We searched for the best cannoli in Boston

  • INSIDER’s Herrine Ro and Emily Christian visited Boston in search of the best cannoli.
  • They visited three popular shops: Mike’s Pastry, Modern Pastry, and Bova’s Bakery.
  • The two hosts see how a few cannoli are made and try the most popular flavours at each location.
  • Both Herrine and Emily declared Bova’s Bakery as their favourite.

Following is a transcript of the video.

Herrine: Ohhh. That flavour is so nice. I’m in trouble. I don’t think…I don’t think I’ll be able to pick a favourite.

Herrine: We just arrived in Boston.

Emily: It’s cold.Herrine: It’s so cold. We are going to talk about what we think makes a great cannoli.Emily: Neither of us are cannoli experts or Boston natives, but we’ve done some research, and we’ve taken some polls, and what we’ve found is that there are three elements we should be looking for in a perfect cannoli.

Herrine: The filling should be smooth and creamy and not lumpy.Emily: Mm hmm. And furthermore, it shouldn’t be too sweet.Herrine: Yes. And for the shell, it should not be soggy, which means that the ricotta should ideally be freshly piped.

Emily: So to recap, the three are crunchy shell, not too sweet, and smooth filling.Herrine: And we’re going to pick the top three flavours at each place.

Emily: Mm hmm.

Herrine: It will be a good representation of what the bakery or dessert shop offers.

Emily: Yep.

Herrine: All right.

Emily: Let’s go eat some cannoli.Herrine: Our first stop is Mike’s Pastry.

Herrine: Tell us your favourite cannoli spot in the area.

Customer: Oh, my God, Mike’s Pastry. It’s the North End. You really can’t go wrong. It’s homemade. It’s rich. It’s creamy. It’s sweet. Like I said, you know, the character alone is worth it. You just gotta deal with the calories.

Herrine: Reviews are just by the thousands. It is me and Emily’s first time at Mike’s Pastry, and we’re very curious to see what all the hype is about.

Emily: In order to beat the lines, we decide to head in bright and early.

Herrine: There’s no one in there. I’m scared to go in now.

Herrine: Can I get the strawberry, limoncello, and hazelnut?

Herrine: There are so many different flavours here. I truly do not know what to pick. Two, two, four, six, eight, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, 19? Nineteen. I think I counted that right. Can we also get one Florentine, one chocolate chip.

Emily: After ordering, customers have the option to get powdered sugar dusted on top of their cannoli.

Herrine: She, like, tied this so fast and so easily, but I’m having so much trouble, like, undoing this thing. Don’t mind me. OK, I got it. Mike’s Pastry is arguably probably the most popular one of the three that we are reviewing. I know that Mike’s Pastry and Modern Pastry have this rivalry that’s like unofficially official. This is the one that I have hyped up the most mentally, so let’s dig in to see if it’s worth the hype in my opinion. We just ordered six different cannoli, but the top three sellers are the pecan caramel, the Florentine, and the chocolate chip.

Emily: My jaw dropped. They’re huge. I’ve never seen a dessert, like, that is massive. Mass-ive.

Herrine: The moment you walk in here, the cannolis are already out in display, which means that they didn’t pipe it fresh, which is something to note.

Emily: I was wondering, does the taste of it live up to this incredible presentation?

Herrine: I really appreciate the fact that the chocolate chips are super-duper mini, and I believe that they make their shells in-house here.

Emily: Right, moment of truth. Oh no. Not graceful.

Herrine: The shell here is a lot less crunchy, but it’s still super flaky. The ricotta, not too sweet. I do wanna say though that the cannoli cream isn’t as rich as it is at other places.

Emily: The filling is pillowy. It’s beautiful. It’s light. It’s delicious. It’s clearly something that has been perfected over years and years and decades. It tastes more like a whipped cream cheese.

Herrine: I think overall, the cannoli here are like really delicious, but the flavours aren’t as distinct.

Emily: I agree with Herrine that the flavoring isn’t as strong of the nut taste, but I actually like that. I really appreciate a nice, fluffy, delicate flavour.

Herrine: The ricotta filling here, sweet, not too sweet. Out of the Florentine, pecan caramel, and the chocolate chip, I like the chocolate chip the best. Overall, yeah, I can see why it’s worth the hype. These cannolis are something to write home about.

Emily: Just down the street is our second stop: Modern Pastry.

Herrine: Modern Pastry has been around for about 70 years.

Herrine: I don’t see the cannoli. So I just asked the lady who works here what the top three flavours are, and she was like, she pointed at the menu and said it’s basically build your own cannoli, but the most popular ones are the plain shell with the traditional ricotta, and that’s it.

Toni, Modern Pastry: So we fill our cannolis fresh for every customer. Per order. And the reason why we do that is we don’t want anybody to get a soggy cannoli because if you get a soggy cannoli, that means it was not filled fresh. When our customers come in to have one of our cannolis, they know that we definitely made them with a lot of TLC.

Herrine: Again with the struggle. I don’t know how they do it. I appreciate how the cannoli here are piped fresh to order and you can customise your cannoli by shell, topping, and filling. First, let’s start with the classic.

Emily: Oh, my God.

Herrine: Great job.

Emily: I don’t know.

Herrine: The ricotta looks a lot more wet. And again, love the mini chocolate chips.

Emily: This is definitely… Woo. Sorry. This is definitely my favourite shell of the day because it is that perfect balance in between flaky and crunchy.

Herrine: The ricotta filling is sweeter here than any other place.

Emily: It has the graininess of a fresh ricotta. I think it tastes great, and it definitely to me tastes like a real, honest, sweet cheese.

Emily: Next up, the chocolate-dipped cannoli with vanilla custard.

Emily: I f—— love custard.

Herrine: Wow, that was so sweet.

Emily: Whoa. That is really sweet. I could not ever in a million years eat this whole thing.

Herrine: The chocolate dipped with the vanilla custard makes it really, really sweet. If I had to reorder this, I would probably get the vanilla custard on a regular shell.

Emily: If you’re not a ricotta person, this is a great alternative, and I like the dense creaminess of it.

Herrine: Finally, the regular cannoli with chocolate custard and almonds.

Emily: If you like chocolate, you would love this.

Herrine: The chocolate custard honestly tastes like chocolate pudding, but like good, homemade chocolate pudding. Overall, I love the crunch here at Modern Pastry.

Emily: I think at the end of the day, you’ve gotta go traditional ricotta. Of the three that we had in here, this is by far my favourite.

Emily: Our third and final stop: Bova’s Bakery.

Customer: Between Mike’s, Modern, and Bova’s, hands down Bova’s is definitely my favourite.

Herrine: Breakfast, lunch, and dinner, this is what I would want. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

John, Manager: We’re in a unique location. We’re not on Hanover Street. We’re on Salem Street where a lot of people that have been in the area for a while still come back to. It’s not the exact tourist location.

George, customer: It’s not as busy as the place up the road, which is a lot more famous and not as good. That’s all I’m gonna say.

Customer: Everyone goes to Mike’s. Everyone goes to Modern. Bova’s is where it’s at.

Herrine: Bova’s Bakery was founded in 1926 by Italian immigrant Antonio Bova. Since its opening, the bakery has been owned and operated by Mr. Bova’s family members.

Dominic: My name’s Dominic. I’m a great-grandson of Antonio Bova.

John: I’m John Kluse, great-grandson of Antonio Bova as well. So what makes our cannolis the best is it comes from the heart, and we’re constantly filling our cannolis. So no matter when you come, our cannolis are always fresh. The three most popular cannolis are the Florentine, chocolate chip, and crème brûlée. Well, a different, unique cannoli would be the Florentine. Ours is 100% from scratch. Hand-rolled. You’re not gonna find that anywhere else other than Bova’s Bakery.

Emily: Now it’s our turn to try all three.

Herrine: Very overwhelming.

Emily: Mmm.

Customer: Here. No, no, no, no, no. Mmm. Oh, my God.

Emily: It’s good, right?

Customer: It’s so good.

Emily: You want the rest of it?

Herrine: Everything that I said that I wanted to look for in the perfect cannoli, like, everything is checked. The shell’s super crunchy. Ricotta filling is super smooth and light and fluffy. Not too sweet, not too grainy.

Emily: Mmm. They know what they’re doing here.

Herrine: Hopefully this time around I can eat it a little more dainty than the last time. Oh, yeah. Yeah, this is it. This is it.

Emily: This tastes like a legendary dessert.

Herrine: The ricotta filling has this, like, vanilla and salted-caramel taste. And then the Heath crunchy bits add like an extra texture to the crunchy shell. And it’s just like this explosion in your mouth, and I’m like, my mouth is watering. She does not mess around. This thing has some weight to it. I don’t know what a Florentine shell is. I assume that it’s from Florence. Maybe. It’s French. It’s from France. This whole time, I’ve been taken on a journey. The regular cannoli shells are quite, they’re more of like a vessel to hold the filling and don’t really give any additional flavour profile other than the crunchy factor texturally. This crust, it’s sweet. It’s nutty.

Emily: That is phenomenal. I’m not kidding. Please come here and eat this.

Herrine: Boston really knows how to make their cannolis. I can tell you that much.

Emily: I want everyone in the world to experience this. It’s so good.

Emily: All right, so we’ve been back in New York City for a while now. Spring has obviously sprung. So we’ve had some time to think about what our favourite cannoli place is in Boston.

Herrine: The flavours are still very fresh in our minds..Oh, my goodness. ’cause they were such great cannolis.

Emily: So good! We actually tried to order cannoli in New York City since…

Herrine: Nothing here compares.

Emily: And it has not turned out well.

Herrine: We haven’t really talked about which one is our favourite, so it’s gonna be a little bit of a surprise when we reveal which one is our favourite to each other. Shall we?

Emily: We shall. Let’s do it.

Herrine: None of them were that difficult to spell.

Emily and Herrine: Three, two, one.

Herrine: Bova’s.

Emily: Bova’s!

Herrine: Same!

Emily: Oh, my goodness. Without a doubt, this was the best cannoli place. And I wonder! I wonder if it’s because of the same cannoli.

Herrine: Yeah, I wonder. Oh, that’s a good idea. Let’s write down our favourite cannoli at Bova’s.

Emily: OK, perfect. We should have brought something to wipe this off. I don’t know how to spell at all.

Emily and Herrine: Three, two, one. Yes!

Emily: Oh, you guys! This was the best dessert I’ve ever eaten in my life.

Herrine: I dream about it almost at least once a day.

Emily: And I do think this is gonna be a hot take because it seems like Bostonians love their Mike’s Pastry, love their Modern Pastry.

Herrine: Bova’s is kinda like the underdog. It’s not on Hanover Street, but the reason why Bova’s is my favourite is because not only is it family-owned and operated still and they’re piping it fresh daily, but that filling, man…

Emily: Ooooh.

Herrine: Was next to none.

Emily: Oh, my gosh. I’ve considered taking a road trip to Boston just to have that again.

Herrine: I know, I know. We’ve had the Florentine at Mike’s Pastry, and it just didn’t compare because the shell was so fresh. It was crispy. It was sweet. It was nutty. It was so fun making this video, but I think the only downside to making this video was the fact that it’s so far away.

Emily: I know. Now that we have had a taste of quite possibly the best dessert on planet Earth, we now are too far away from it to have it on a day-to-day basis.

Herrine: I know.

Emily: Maybe it’s for the best.

Herrine: I know.

Emily: Maybe it’s for the best.

Herrine: I ate too much filling. I don’t feel good.

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