There's a reason the lines for the Italian bakeries around Hanover St stretch out the doors nightly: the bakeries' pastries, specifically the cannoli, are f--king good. Nobody does stuffed tubes of fried dough better than people in Boston. And no place in Boston does them better than these eight spots in the Hub's cannoli capital: the North End.
46 Cross St
Reputed to have some of the best cannoli outside of Italy, Maria’s is our top pick for the classic version in the North End. Its filling is thick and smooth with plenty of ricotta, and the golden shells have just the right amount of crunch. Unfortunately, the shop is tiny and closes early, so you’re best off taking your cannoli to go.
210 Hanover St
They're on the steeper side price-wise, but Taranta’s guava and ricotta mini cannoli -- each coated with a generous helping of pistachio brittle -- are well-worth the Alexander Hamilton. Nowhere else in the North End will you find such an unexpected (and delicious) take on the classic Italian pastry.
257 Hanover Street
Modern’s cannoli have more ricotta than your average North End filling, which we personally think is a good thing. They’re thick, crunchy, and an all-around stupendous example of what a cannolo should be. Plus, Modern will even make you a custom cannoli cake! Because cake is good, and cannoli are good, so why not eat both at the SAME TIME?
241 Hanover Street
The Sicilian cannoli at Bricco feature candied fruit and raspberry coulis with a huge scoop of vanilla gelato… ‘nuf said.
134 Salem St
Bova’s main merit is that it’s open 24 hours, so if you need a Nutella cannolo at 4am, it’ll be there for you. Nutella cannoli, guys. Whenever you damn well please! Pair that with cappuccino cannoli, and you’ll have hazelnut mocha-noli, which is pretty much exactly what you’ll want when Saus closes and you need a chaser for your beer float.
255 Hanover St
For those who like a thinner filling, Paradiso is the way to go. It's also open until 2am every day, which is a huge perk.
296 Hanover St
Vittoria was the first Italian café in Boston, and while it’s not our No. 1 cannoli pick, it's better than average and the ambiance is well worth a visit. Snag an espresso or a grappa to complement your pastry, and you’ll be happy hanging out all night.
300 Hanover St
Mike’s cannoli are crispy, thick, and on the sweeter side, which is probably why they’re so universally popular. The North End institution offers a bazillion filling options, including Italian flavors like amaretto and limoncello, as well as novelty flavors like Oreo and peanut butter. It’s a great place to go with a crowd that doesn’t mind battling tourists for a spot at the counter.
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1. Maria's Pastry Shop46 Cross St, Boston
2. Taranta210 Hanover St, Boston
3. Modern Pastry Shop263 Hanover St, Boston
4. Bricco241 Hanover St, Boston
5. Bova's Bakery134 Salem St, Boston
6. Caffè Paradiso255 Hanover St, Boston
7. Caffe Vittoria296 Hanover St, Boston
8. Mike's Pastry300 Hanover St, Boston
This pastry spot allegedly has one of the best cannolis outside of Italy, and has been given the honor of best cannoli in Boston before. They have all the other classics too, like lobster tails, torrone, and marzipan treats. The tiny spot isn't great for sitting, but the waterfront is only a short walk away.
This restaurant blends together Italian and Peruvian flavors and meals to bring something different to the North End. The meal will be incredible, but make sure you save room for one of their decadent desserts.
Though there's always hoards of people buzzing outside rival pastry shop Mike's just down the block, real Bostonians know that generations-old Modern is the real winner of the city's best cannoli. At any given time, there's a sizable line for its flaky, deep-fried pastry tubes hugging velvety ricotta, which you can customize with add-ons like chocolate chips, pistachios, and chocolate-dipped shells. Despite the line, this cash-only spot isn't nearly as crazed as Mike's, because guests here form an orderly queue (instead of a swarming crowd) as they ogle at tons of treats like handmade Italian cookies, lobster tails, and cakes in display cases. Pro tip: if you're pressed for time, skip the line and slip inside Modern's next-door cafe that's oft-overlooked -- it serves the same cannoli without the wait.
This Italian restaurant is nothing unique in the North End, but that doesn't mean it's not special. Between a menu with dishes like Ricotta Pillows with truffle butter and wild mushroom, a killer late night & pizza menu, and one of the better cannolis in the city, we can easily recommend a visit.
If you’re craving a cannoli at 4am, this tiny North End bakery, which is open 24-hours, is the only place to go. Grab one of several flavors (and bring cash!) or make yourself a to-go box of assorted cookies and pastries from the giant glass display cases up front. In need of something more savory? Bova's also makes calzones, Sicilian-style pizza, subs, and spuckies. It’s a little cramped, so you’ll probably want to head outside to eat.
This authentic, family run, Italian caffe has a few very important features. It's open 7am-2am seven days a week, they serve Italian pastries, gelato, & coffees, and they have a cocktail menu. Yes, that's right: cannolis and martinis in the same place.
Sprawling is a very seriously used word in the case of this North End spot. It was the first Italian café in Boston, and covers four floors, between which is has three bars. They serve Italian classics like gelato, cannolis, coffees, and cocktails.
Mike’s Pastry, the Hanover St. mainstay, has been drawing crowds of cannoli-craving hopefuls (read: lines down the block, at all times) to its North End storefront since 1946. Mike’s features nearly 20 different flavors of il cannolo, as they call it, piped into crunchy, fried pastry shells (that somehow don’t crumble at first bite), and dusted with powdered sugar. The options are vast, but when you hit the pastry case, time is of the essence: pick your poison, fill your iconic white and blue pastry box, and move along -- there are dozens of others waiting to do the same.