A couple months ago ago, I visited Mike's Pastry in the North End and enjoyed a taste of their delicious cannolis. Soon after I wrote the post, I started receiving various comments that ranged all over the map. Many loved it. Some thought it was a tourist trap, and several thought that Modern was better.
On a quiet Monday evening, we sauntered into a Modern Pastry that was almost empty. Unlike the weekends, where the line goes out the door, this dark, rainy Monday evening was relatively calm. Apparently we had just missed Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, who had visited Modern the Saturday before.
According to fans of Modern Pastry, Modern's big selling point is that they make the cannolis fresh on the spot. In other words, the shells are not pre-filled, unlike those at Mike's, and therefore the cannolis are arguably less soggy. Also, at Modern, the cannolis come in two different sizes. You can get a mini cannoli or a larger one. Neither one is as large as the one from Mike's.
So what's the best way to test them? We purchased a cannoli at Mike's, and then walked down the street to Modern and bought a mini cannoli and also a normal sized one. Monday night is a good night to do an experiment like this because you don't have to wait in line at either establishment to get the cannolis, thus both are pretty fresh!
The verdict? I think what people say is generally true. The Mike's shell is just naturally harder and crispier - more cookie-like. The modern shell is delicate, more refined, more pastry-like. It's by no means soft, but definitely more delicate. The cream inside the Mike's cannoli is sweeter, although neither struck me as being too sweet or not sweet enough.
In the end, I think it's a matter of personal preference. I don't think the Mike's cannoli tastes at all soggy. I think the stronger, more durable shell withstands moisture pretty well, and I found that the Mike's cannolis actually last longer than the Modern cannolis, which get soggy pretty fast (definitely within 24 hours) since the shell is more delicate.
Bryan and I both preferred the Mike's cannoli a bit, although I appreciate the fact that Modern has two sizes from which to choose.
Like I mentioned last time, you can't go wrong going to either one. In fact, you really can't go wrong just by visiting the North End while you are in Boston. It's such a vibrant neighborhood, the food is fantastic, and the cannolis are unbeatable.
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