Saturday, September 13, 2008

The Great Cannoli Challenge

For a very long time, Mike's Pastry has been known to have the absolute best cannoli in Boston. Well, today Mike's cannoli was put to the test. A group of our Gourmands decided to challenge the claim that Mike's is the best. Bryan, Adam, Marco, Jeremy, and I made our way to the North End this afternoon to scout out the best pastry shops the North End had to offer. We decided on three different shops to use in our challenge. The first was (of course) Mike's Pastry Shop. No matter what time of year, there is always a huge line outside of Mike's. It's noted in tourism books and most Bostonians have gone here at some point in their life. Mike's cannoli are hailed as "the gold standard". In our other corner, challenging Mike's Pastry Shop, were two contenders: Modern Pastry (just a few doors down from Mike's) and Bova's Bakery . Bova's is famous for their Italian Bread but Marco had distinct memories of this shop from his childhood so we decided to let them be the other contender in the Great Cannoli Challenge. All of our purchases equaled exactly the same amount: 5 bucks for two cannoli (one regular, one with chocolate chips).

We first judged the Cannoli on appearance. We selected the same types of cannoli from each shop. One regular cannolo (ricotta filling) and one with chocolate chips. Below is a picture of all three sets:

Based on appearance alone, Mike's Pastry Shop won out. It was definitely the largest of the cannoli and looked the most rustic and homemade which appealed to our Gourmands. Second place was taken by Modern and third, Bova's.

For the tasting section of our challenge, I made everyone close their eyes as I dished out the cannoli so the appearance wouldn't affect the way they judged the taste. Most people had preconceived notions as to which cannoli would win out (Marco thought Bova's would, Adam didn't think Mike's would live up to it's name). After almost an hour of tasting the cannoli we had a clear winner: Modern Pastry.

The Modern Pastry cannoli won out on texture and taste. 3 out of 4 Gourmands agreed that it had the best filling and crispy shell and they all enjoyed the smaller chocolate chips. (Bryan had Mike's as his favorite in all categories.) Mike's Pastry came in second place overall with the sweetest filling and Bova came in third with a runnier filling that didn't satisfy our Gourmands.

Everyone was quite shocked by the blind-taste test. Although Mike's may have the best marketing and publicity in the city, Modern Pastry can be proud to carry the title of Best Cannoli in our books. So next time, skip the long line at Mike's and head on over to the Modern Pastry Shop where you'll taste the best cannoli in town.

Mike's Pastry
Mike's Pastry on Urbanspoon

Modern Pastry
Modern Pastry on Urbanspoon

Bova's Bakery
Bova's Bakery on Urbanspoon


  1. I'm pretty sure Bova is known more for their bread than for their desserts, so I am interested in going back there for that.

    Also, they had HUGE arancini that were the size of softballs...I'm so going to get one or two next time I'm there!

  2. i once met a girl named maria, and her chocolate-covered cannoli shell with chocolate chips was really good