It’s 8 pm on a Friday, and you’ve just finished dinner with bae in the North End. You skipped dessert because there’s only two real options when you go to Boston’s version of little Italy: Mike’s or Modern.
Choosing between the two of them can be difficult. Just down the street from each other, both are family owned businesses with employees as sweet as their treats. Both are famous for their cannoli, and various pastries such as biscotti and macaroons. Yet, both stores are their own experience. How to decide?
The Cannoli: Sitting pretty at number 14 of Boston’s Best 50 Bites, a cannoli from Mike’s is no joke. With more than 15 different types ranging from hazelnut to strawberry to limoncello, there are so many different types to try. But with those, one must always get the classic plain ricotta. All of their shells are handmade and the filling is the perfect sweetness. It is a true Italian classic.
The other pastries: Mike’s also has other classic Italian pastries like pasticciotto, a small cream cheese pie, bonconnotto, a chocolate covered creme puff, and la sfogliatella, also known as a lobster tail. Each dessert can be shared due to their large size or enjoyed alone – no one who knows how good they are will judge. Mike’s definitely is not worth skipping.
To complement the Italian pastries, Mike’s also has 50+ types of cookies. From butter cookies, to chocolate leaves, to M&M, to raspberry frosted and even white champagne, there’s no way to go wrong. This is your opportunity to get a box full and try a bunch. While they have the classic chocolate chip, we reccomend trying something new.
Extra delights: For your cold sweet tooth, they also have gelato, which they claim may make you “never go back to plain old ice cream.” Know first what is the difference between ice cream and gelato and then decide which flavor combo are you, or feel free to sample every kind. The sweet, creamy flavor will transport you to the gelato shops of Italy. Whether or not it wins your heart over ice cream is completely personal.
So, whether or not you are just stopping by in Boston, or you are a burnt out college student in need of a treat, go visit Mike’s Pastry. Get a cannoli for sure, as well as one of everything else for the road.
The cannoli: Just as large as Mike’s and filled with just as much flavor. The classic ricotta swifts you to Sicily with the outer shell being the perfect crunch between your teeth. If still trying to save room for more of their pastries, they also have a mini cannoli that packs just as much flavor just in a smaller shell.
The other pastries: Modern Pastry has amaretto, creme brûlée, chocolate mousse slices, eclairs, napoleons, cakes, cupcakes, and more. It will be hard to choose because they are also all massive. But feel free to get a couple and share or save them for later. By how good they are though, they probably will not last.
Another thing to try and compare to Mike’s are their creme puffs. Since they are larger than a fist, you will have to try and figure out how to fit your mouth over it all. But once you do it is worth it because of the flakes of pastry, loads of cream, and a drizzle of chocolate and chocolate chips on top. It is questionable how to pack so much into something so simple.
Lastly, if you have ever wondered what a macaroon is and what the difference between a macaroon and a macron is, Modern Pastry is the place to try both and find out. Your eyes will be drawn to the colorful display of macarons but if you like coconut, do not skip out on the macaroons either.
Other delights: If looking for a gift to go, their pizzelle and chocolate truffles are both crowd pleasers. The pizzelle are the perfect shape and crispiness, so you can have a waffle-tasting cookie at any time of the day. Meanwhile, their truffles are mind blowing. They are not your ordinary Godiva truffles. They are truffles on steroids, taken to a whole new level. About the size of an egg, the chocolate is decadent and the fillings, just enhance their goodness. Find out which truffle you are and melt into chocolate heaven.
It might seem an unsatisfactory answer, but the only way to truly experience the North End is to visit both. Their cannoli are excellent, and you will be satisfied with either choice. The biggest field in which they differ are the other, extra sweets that they offer. And don’t you want to try them all?
If anything, we recommend that you make your choice based on which storefront has a shorter line. Those waits can be brutal. Save yourself some time.