On a recent trip to Boston I stopped off at Hanover Street in the city’s North End for my italian fix. The area is a bustling mix of past and present – rich history told in the red brick of its narrow streets, coloured by the lively Italian culture that draws the awe of so many people today.
Past the windows jewelled with ornate wheels of cheese, bottles of vino or satisfied diners’ faces you’ll find one thing that brings queues of people back day after day. Heeding the advice of the iconic Italian, whenever I am in Boston, I do as the Godfather says: I may forget everything else, but I always take the cannolis.
The one stop shop for all your cannoli needs? Mike’s Pastry. It could be said that the bakery, which has a history of nearly 70 years, has an almost religious following. Devout cannoli-lovers crowd the store shoulder-to-shoulder everyday, nudging anxiously forward to get their hands on the golden goods.
This place really is a gold mine for a sweet tooth – beyond the cannoli there are whoopie pies the size of your outstretched hand, slices of cake standing sickeningly tall, glistening cream puffs about to burst with whipped goodness.
But the cannoli…it’s all about il canolo. They are one thing for which I am willing to risk serious damage to healthy arterial flow. Amaretto, chocolate cream, yellow cream, hazelnut, florentine, chocolate-dipped, chocolate-chip – they have it all – but for me, you can’t go past the creamy simplicity of the ricotta cheese.
The wait in line will give you time to mull over what – and how many – you want, because when you get to the front of the queue, you better be ready to yell out your order quick-smart. Boxed and wrapped in string, the cannolis are a little present to unwrap and feast on whenever you can find the first free spot – I suggest the sun-baked park over the 93 at the southern entrance to Hanover Street.
The lavishness of this treat is such a testament to Boston’s melting pot of cultures. The bubbly and crisp shell, a meal in itself, holds a bounty of smooth, sweet ricotta pouring out at each end. In taste and texture, it is truly Italian. In unrestrained size, it is all-American.
This place is worth a visit, no matter how sweet or salty your palette may be. Simply order one ricotta, find a quiet spot and watch the world slip away as you consume each sumptuous bite…and the taste consumes you.
And don’t fret, out-of-towners, you can order a cannoli kit and build your own cannoli at home!
300 Hanover Street
Boston, MA 02113
(617) 742 3050
Nearest T station: Haymarket
Open Daily from 8am