: a deep-fried tube of pastry filled with sweetened and flavored ricotta cheese
That is the official Webster definition of a Cannoli
This is Tripping Vittles definition a superb dessert of fried pastry in a long hollow tube filled with Ricotta that has been sweetened and filled, capped with a delectable treat on either end from the traditional Pistachios to the Americanized chocolate chips.
You may or may not be aware of The North End of Boston. It is by far my favorite place in Boston. An Italian working class neighborhood now, it was originally settled by the Irish. The history of our nation is very rich in this neighborhood. Paul Raveres house stands in the North End as does the The Old North Church “one if by land two if by sea”.
In the late 1800’s early 1900’s the Irish and Jewish Immigrants gave way to the Italian immigrants who are still settled there today. You still hear Italian spoke on the streets of the North End. You can tell the many different parts of Italy people came from by the food they serve in the many restaurants that line the streets.
I could eat at each restaurant and gorge myself on pasta and sausages, seafood and sauce. In fact we did eat one night at a place on the North Square, the oldest public square in America. established in 1634. Mamma Maria’s was an absolutely wonderful meal. From Osso Buco to Rabbit Pappardelle and Frutti di Mare. It is at this restaurant I came up with the idea to taste and name my favorite cannoli in Boston.
The criteria to taste as many cannoli as I could between that meal and my leaving Boston. The goal to pick my favorite Boston Cannoli. I am not a review page so I have no intention of naming the bad ones I tasted. Just know the best was chosen because of a few criteria. The shell did not taste of grease, especially old dirty grease. The filling was stiff and had the flavor of Ricotta with the touch of sweetness you want from a dessert. For flavoring there was nothing beyond sugar, chocolate,pistachio and almond. No mango, mint,macerated fruits, strawberry, banana. Though you maybe able to get some of that at the places I loved it was not the only thing you could get and I based everything on traditional choices. The place should be clean and friendly. The quickness at how you could package them and tie the string around the box for traveling did not go into this decision but I must say that is damn impressive at the ease of which that is accomplished!!
My favorite Cannoli was the one(or three) I found at Mike’s Pastry at 300 Hanover St. in Boston’s North End. I started with the selection of traditional pistachio and it was perfect!! Just the right crunch of the nuts pressed into a stiff fairly sweet Ricotta stuffing. In a shell that was crisp and did not have a heavy taste of grease. It was just delicious. Mikes has been serving Cannoli and other baked goods since 1946. In 2012 Michael Mercogliano the “mike” of the shop passed away at the age of 90. He was always active in the business but at the time of his death a step son was running the day to day operations. He immigrated to America from Italy when he was 12. I do not know anything about him other than the tidbit above that I found online but my guess is he loved what he did and he loved cannoli because it comes thru in what Mike’s produces.
It has been said Mike’s is a tourist mecca and that locals do not go there as often as other places. I am sure this is the case as the lines are long and they will package cannoli to travel in cardboard boxes. Tourists make up a large number of their customers but it does not diminish the fact it is an awesome cannoli and if I were a local and wanted a cannoli I would get there early and make my purchase. I searched out some of the places the locals called their favorites and I just did not find one I liked more than Mikes. If you get to Boston be sure to make The North End a destination and stop at Mike’s Pastry for a cannoli!! In my opinion its the best. Share your favorite cannoli below from Boston or anywhere else. I am always looking for places to try!!