In their purest form, cannoli (singular: cannolo) are Italian pastries with tubular fried dough shells packed full of sweetened ricotta cream. Many pastry chefs still make them just as the original Sicilian cooks intended, while others experiment with flavored shells, variations on fillings, and an array of toppings.
If you are looking for Boston's best cannoli, check out these four pastry shops - each has earned Boston Magazine's pick for the best cannoli in the city at least once.
Maria's is an authentic, family-owned-and-operated bakery in Boston's North End serving a variety of cookies, cakes, pastries and breads in addition to their famous cannoli. Maria Merola, the shop's namesake, has been in business for over 30 years and can still be found behind the counter serving her loyal customers. Each fresh cannoli is filled-to-order with your choice of chocolate, vanilla, or traditional ricotta cream. Ask for a sprinkle of powdered sugar to top it off!
Caffe Paradiso has been a North End staple since 1962. Like Maria's, it is family-owned-and-operated, but unlike Maria's they also serve exceptional cappuccino, espresso, gelato and martinis. To try the award-winning cannoli, head straight to the bakery case in the back of the dimly-lit cafe. The light, flaky shells overflow with rich, smooth ricotta. Ask for yours dipped in chocolate or pistachio crumbles.
Another North End favorite, Mike’s Pastry has been delighting guests with their cannoli since 1946. The shop was originally owned by Michael Mercogliano who immigrated from Italy to Boston when he was just 12-years-old. His stepson, Angelo Papa took over years ago and continues to honor Mike's legacy of delicious, authentic cannoli and lobster tail pastries.
Don't live in Boston? Have a taste of Mike's sent right to your door! Mike's Famous Cannoli Kit is just $40 and includes 10 Cannoli shells, your choice of plain or chocolate ricotta cheese filling, chocolate chips, pistachio nuts and confectioners’ sugar.
The family bakers at Modern Pastry claim to draw on "more than 150 years of Old World Italian recipes, methods, and experience" to create their cannoli, cookies, cakes, pies, and pastries. Good news - they also ship their authentic North End goodies!