And the Winner is… North End’s Best Cannoli: Maria’s Pastry

The argument has been waged for years now: who has the best cannoli in Boston’s North End? Ask a tourist, ask a local and you may come up with varying answers, it can be confusing. Of course the resounding vote always seems to be for Mike’s, at least it was always that way for me, especially after my last cannoli throwdown last spring with Mike’s taking the prize. But after a few tweets and comments coming it with more opinions and votes as well as a few more names added to the list of “must tries,” I decided to do it all over again. This time the cannoli challenge had four players, Mike’s, Modern’s, Maria’s, and Bova’s.


I parked myself at a cafe table outside the gelato shop on Hanover St. and lined up my beautiful contestants. You can see Mike’s gal is a biggin’. Here are my results…

RICOTTA CREAM
Sweetness– 1-5, 5 being the sweetest
Bova’s- 4
Maria’s- 4
Modern’s- 5
Mike’s- 5

Density of Cream– 1-5, 5 most dense
Bova’s- 3
Maria’s- 3
Modern’s- 4
Mike’s- 5

Ricotta Flavor– 1-5, 5 best
Bova’s- 3
Maria’s- 5
Modern’s- 3
Mike’s- 4

Vanilla Flavor– 1-5, 5 strongest
Bova’s- 3
Maria’s- 4
Modern’s- 5
Mike’s- 3

Smoothness of Cream– 1-5, 5 smoothest
Bova’s- 1
Maria’s- 3
Modern’s- 3
Mike’s- 5

Overall Cream Winner- Maria’s! Maria proved to put out a light and creamy ricotta cream with a rich milk flavor, perfectly sweetened with just enough essence of vanilla. While comparing the four together, Maria’s filling really stood out as the freshest, best tasting, and most homemade flavor. The texture had enough ricotta curd to prove ricotta existed in the cream without gagging one as did the large curds of Bova’s cream which lead me to think, “did they use cottage cheese?” 2nd- Mike’s, 3rd- Modern’s, 4th- Bova’s, don’t bother.

SHELL
Freshness– 1-5, 5 most fresh
Bova’s- 4
Maria’s- 5
Modern’s- 5
Mike’s- 4

Crispiness– 1-5, 5 most crispy
Bova’s- 4
Maria’s- 5
Modern’s- 4
Mike’s- 3 Pre-filled too early!

Flavor– 1-5, 5 best
Bova’s- 1
Maria’s- 5
Modern’s- 1
Mike’s- 3

Overall Shell Winner– Maria’s! Her shell was not only crispy, it was flaky and delicate. I detected no grease flavor. She fills her cannoli as you order them so that the cannoli shells are at their freshest, unlike Mike’s this time who produced a soggy shell. One will note a tiny hint of anise in Maria’s cannoli shells, but when asked if she puts anise in her shells, Maria said, “No!” We both concluded that since the aroma of anise is so strong in her shop from all of the Italian cookies that her shells naturally absorb the delicate essence. Just like putting peppermint cookies in your tin with other Christmas cookies, making them all taste minty after a short time.


OVERALL CANNOLI WINNER- Maria’s! I am so pleased someone pointed me in the direction of Maria’s Pastry. What you get? A low key, off the beaten path, no frills pastry shop with the most authentic Italian cookies and pastries.

And you get Maria, a down to earth, hard working woman who not only pipes out cookies faster than a machine but blesses her patrons with great conversation and service.


The next day, Himself wanted to go to Maria’s to have an espresso and a few of her cookies and pastry. He was very pleased and has now asked me to make my pizzelle cookies just like Maria, two placed together and dipped halfway in chocolate. The cat? That’s Cookie, the shop protector, most shops in the North End keep kitties because you know what kitties keep away.


In the North End looking for the best cannoli? Maria’s will not disappoint, with her authentic Italian treats and little old men sipping espresso, chatting the morning away. If you want to be in the hub-bub of the North End with tourists, tons of pastry and cookie choices, and long lines, try Mike’s, it is a very lively and fun place.

11 Comments

  1. Kelly
    Posted November 3, 2010 at 8:17 AM | Permalink

    OMG, I want a cannoli so bad right now, it's not even funny. Well, I know where I'M going if I ever manage to get back to Boston! Thanks for taking one for the team to find the best cannoli. It must have been grueling. 😉

  2. Fallon
    Posted November 3, 2010 at 11:50 AM | Permalink

    I'm drooling over the cannoli.. I must go to Boston. LOL

  3. FOODalogue
    Posted November 3, 2010 at 4:46 PM | Permalink

    When I was in Boston we did the cannoli test — but just between Modern and Mike's. We didn't know about the other two. Sounds like another trip is in order.

  4. Sabrina
    Posted November 4, 2010 at 7:56 AM | Permalink

    thanks for taking one for the team to test these. I can't wait to hear about the cookie.

  5. Ingrid
    Posted November 4, 2010 at 12:03 PM | Permalink

    Robin Sue! Get the recipe! So that people such as myself can have yummy cannolis at home.

    Hope you guys had a spookilicious Halloween! 🙂
    ~ingrid

  6. Velva
    Posted November 4, 2010 at 6:04 PM | Permalink

    God, that looks good. Cheers to Maria's!

  7. Lisa
    Posted November 25, 2010 at 11:43 AM | Permalink

    I love this post…I think I should take my husband on a mystery date night and have a cannoli throwdown at these 4 places! Now I wish I got cannolis for Thanksgiving!

  8. Robin Sue
    Posted November 25, 2010 at 1:51 PM | Permalink

    Lisa, save your money and forget Bova's. Ick. It would be a fun date! I would love to do the North end food tour sometime!

  9. Posted August 31, 2013 at 4:27 PM | Permalink

    I agree I love Maria’s for a fresh cannoli. Although, my all time favorite is Parziales bakery, on prince an Salem! You must try theirs and include them in your next taste test!

    • Robin Sue
      Posted September 1, 2013 at 10:22 PM | Permalink

      Thanks! I am always looking for new places to try out

  10. Madaketgal
    Posted June 24, 2015 at 5:27 PM | Permalink

    Mike’s will make you a fresh cannoli if you just ask – not a problem. My husband and I just did the Mike’s vs. Maria’s yesterday and Mike’s won, hands down. Much more ricotta taste in its denser filling. I’m personally looking to taste the cheese, not vanilla, in my cannoli. And Mike’s had a nice, very subtle lemony tang.

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