Completely deadpan, my close friend Emily posed this question while we were at a red light in Cambridge. I had just told her that earlier that day, Ian and I found ourselves in Boston’s North End and sauntered into both Modern Pastry and Mike’s Pastry, storied bakeries whose lobster tails and cannoli are the stuff of legend. Thanks in part to opinionated Bostonians like Emily, both are also caught in an ongoing turf war for cannoli supremacy.
Let me preface the following assessment of Boston cannoli with the following: This was strictly an unscientific taste study. Firstly, we got different cannoli at each establishment, so already, there wasn’t a control element. As far as *ahem* extraneous factors go, well… I get grumpy waiting in lines. I especially get grumpy waiting in lines with impatient yet completely moronic tourists. Admittedly, I was one, but dear lord, people need to shape up and learn some manners. In the spirit of balance, I’ll have to say that while waiting in line at Modern Pastry, I was seconds away from drawing blood, which may or may not have tarnished my feelings towards the experience.
Modern Pastry [257 Hanover Street, 617.523.3783] was chaos. The poor counter staff wasn’t faring well with the onslaught of pushy out-of-towners, and the small space was overrun with people who you could swear thought the place was the freakin’ DMV. I had so much anger. But that’s not really important; we’re talking pastry here. Modern let’s you pick your fillings and your cannoli shell. For $2.50, you can decide between chocolate dipped or plain shelled, ricotta-cream or regular whipped. For this round, we got a chocolate-dipped shell with ricotta-filling, dusted with powdered sugar, natch. The verdict? It was… fine. Nothing transcendent. The cream was rich, but I was hoping for a little more acidity. The shell was kind of tough, truth be told. It left something to be desired in the way of flakiness. It wasn’t all a wash; we picked up an eclair too, and loved it.
Mike’s Pastry [300 Hanover Street, 617.742.3050] was as much of a shit-show as Modern, but with eight or so staff manning the counters, there was a lot more order. Those people were machines; we were in and out in under five minutes. This time, we ordered a pistachio cannoli with regular cream. Sorry, Modern Pastry fans, but Mike’s delivered in spades: the cream was luxuriously light while the flaky shell tasted fresher and crumbled beautifully. Not to sound like more of a fat-kid than I already am, but it was also bigger than Modern’s cannoli, though cost $3.00.
After giving Emily the above assessment of Boston’s favorite Italian treats, she merely nodded and said, “Alright, we can still be friends.” Phew.
Have you tried either pastry shop’s cannolis? Where do you come down on this turf war?
Modern Pastry awning photo courtesy of timsackton | Flickr Creative Commons