Taste-Testing the Best Cannolis in Boston

modern pastry cannoli, the-alyst.com

Cannolis are the ultimate Italian dessert, and in Boston, the North End is the place to find the best cannolis. In fact, it was there that I had my first cannoli EVER!

Visiting Boston as a child, I remember waiting in a long and rambling line at Mike’s Pastry to order a cannoli. It seemed a dinner in the North End was never complete without a bite into that crunchy cannoli shell and oh-so-sweet ricotta filling. Every time I walk past the bakery’s neon yellow sign, I think back to my first taste of that sweet Italian pastry, and recall those early trips to the city that I now call home.

As much as I love cannolis, they are too decadent to enjoy on a regular basis, so I typically limit my consumption to special occasions only. For example, they are one of my favorite things to pick-up as quick dessert when we’re hosting a dinner party or as a hostess gift when we are visiting a friend’s place. Trust me, every guest always “ooo’s” and “ahh’s” when cannolis grace a dessert platter!

From traditional ricotta filling to chocolate dipped shells, when you head to our city’s “Little Italy,” the cannoli options are endless and delicious! Not sure where to start? Over the years, I’ve tried all of the best cannolis in the North End, and have rounded up my top picks for you to enjoy on your next visit to Hanover Street.

Insider tips: For a less hectic experience, try to visit the North End on a weekday or at an off time. The bakery lines on the weekends and after dinner can be very long and hectic! Also, bring cash, as many of the bakeries do not accept credit cards.

modern pastry cannoli, the-alyst.com
modern pastry cannoli, the-alyst.com
modern pastry cannoli, the-alyst.com
modern pastry cannoli, the-alyst.com
modern pastry cannoli, the-alyst.com
modern pastry cannoli, the-alyst.com

The A-Lyst for the Best Cannolis in Boston’s North End

modern pastry cannoli, the-alyst.comModern Pastry

Modern Pastry is one of the largest and well-known bakeries in the North End. In fact, it supplies many of the area’s cafes and restaurants with the sweets on their dessert menus. For cannolis, I love how Modern Pastry allows you to customize your treat exactly the way that you want it. You can choose the type of shell, filling, and toppings to create your idea of the perfect cannoli. My go-to combinations are the traditional ricotta in a chocolate shell topped with chocolate chips and the chocolate custard in a chocolate covered shell topped with chocolate chips. If you prefer to sit and enjoy your cannoli, Modern Pastry has a great cafe area that offers the perfect place for an espresso and pastry date. 257 Hanover Street, Boston, MA 02113

Mike’s Pastry

This is by far the most famous bakery in Boston! Since 1946, Mike’s has been a staple in the North End, so if a line out the door doesn’t deter you, it’s worth a try! Countless U.S. presidents and celebrities have enjoyed the Italian delights at this Hanover Street institution, and on a summer day in the North End, it seems like everyone on the street is holding a blue and white Mike’s Pastry box. There are various cannoli flavors to choose from (think amaretto, espresso, and pecan caramel!) and trust me, you can’t go wrong with any of them! 300 Hanover Street, Boston, MA 02113

Maria’s Pastry Shop

A bit off the beaten path, Maria’s Pastry Shop, which is located on Cross Street, has been family-run and operated since 1982. While much smaller than Modern and Mike’s, Maria’s cannolis are just as delicious, and because of the location, there is usually not a crazy long line! Think of it as a hidden pastry gem! Personally, I love the small town vibe that you feel when you enter the shop and every time I enjoy one of their cannolis, my adoration for this bakery is reaffirmed. 46 Cross Street, Boston, MA 02113

Bova’s Bakery

When the bars close at 2 a.m., Bova’s Bakery is where it’s at. In Boston, we don’t have many late night dining options, but any dessert lover will tell you that if hunger pains come over you in the wee hours of the morning, you should head to the corner of Salem Street and Prince Street. Open 24 hours, Bova’s serves up an array of Italian pastries, including several varieties of cannolis (nutella and creme brûlée are two of the more unique filling flavors). If you visit Bova’s during the day, it will also have less of a line than Mike’s & Modern, which is a huge time saver, especially if you are visiting Boston and have a lot to see and do in a limited time frame. 134 Salem Street, Boston, MA 02113

Caffe Paradiso

If your idea of a perfect Saturday afternoon is sipping a cappuccino and enjoying a cannoli in a quaint cafe, Caffe Paradiso serves a delicious version of this Italian treat in a charming setting. While this cafe doesn’t offer as many filling flavors or toppings as its Hanover Street bakery neighbors, you can’t beat Caffe Paradiso’s European feel and amazing coffee, which are the perfect to match for enjoying this scrumptious treat. Oh, and if you want to take things up a  notch, don’t miss their Espresso Martini! 255 Hanover Street, Boston, MA 02113

Outfit Details:

Sweater: J.Crew Marled Italian Wool Blend Turtleneck Sweater in Marled Oatmeal

Bracelets: J.Crew Gold Bangles (similar here)

Nail Polish: OPI Ring the Buzzer Again

Lipstick: BITE High Pigment Pencil in Petal

Photos by @CarolynTakesPics