To a Boston resident, the blue and white pastry box neatly tied with a piece of string is as familiar as the Prudential Tower or the Citgo sign. No matter where you are in the city, it’s practically impossible to escape the sight of Mike’s Pastry. Few feelings rival the excitement of untying the string that separates you from a coveted cannoli and, more importantly, that heavenly first bite.
Home to 18 cannoli flavors ranging from Hazelnut to Mint Chip, people line up in the bakery, out the door, and spill onto Hanover Street for all kinds of pastries, but let’s be honest, mostly the cannoli. And so, for the greater good, we took it upon ourselves to taste and subjectively rank all 18 Mike’s Pastry cannoli to find out which one reigns supreme.
Keep in mind the following:
- This subjective list is based on the tastebuds of three cannoli fans: myself, and BDCwire’s Jamie Loftus and Kevin Slane.
- Each cannoli was evaluated on a scale from 1-10, with 1 being the worst and 10 being the best. Decimals were allowed.
- Scoring was based on filling, overall taste, and cannoli-ness (did it stay true to the cannoli flavor, or stray too far?)
With that, let the ranking begin…
18. Pecan Caramel
Total Score: 11
The thought of nuts within the pastry seems unappealing right off the bat, which could explain why Pecan Caramel sits at the bottom of this list. The name is also slightly misleading, as the taste of caramel is so subtle, it’s almost absent.
Total Score: 11.5
The only purely fruit-based cannoli at Mike’s, it is everything you would expect from something strawberry flavored. Loftus describes the taste to be reminiscent of Strawberry Pocky. In addition to the notable color, this particular pastry is among the few that prompted a wide spectrum of opinions among tasters, ranging from disgust to delight.
Total Score: 12
For those unaware, Limoncello is an Italian lemon liqueur, but the citrus taste doesn’t come through in a significant enough way. Instead, a faint but present ‘whipped-egg’ taste quickly becomes apparent after your first bite.
Total Score: 12.5
Amaretto is another Italian liqueur and is almond-y and extremely sweet. It undeniably deserves points for originality and creativity, but as Loftus says, “it tastes like your first hangover.”
Total Score: 14
This cannoli takes you back to your childhood, when you’d refuse to ingest anything and everything green. The intense pistachio taste is a stark contrast to the sweet filling.
13. Peanut Butter
Total Score: 14.5
Everyone loves peanut butter, so the concept is undoubtedly promising. Similar to the strawberry cannoli, it tastes exactly as you’d expect. Slane said, however, that he enjoys “peanut butter in complement with other things” but not necessarily in a cannoli.
12. Chocolate Ricotta
Total Score: 18
The Chocolate Ricotta is one of many chocolate variations on offer. The filling is both rich and thick. It seems to lack one particular satisfying element—as if something is missing to tie up the dessert in a neat, little bow.
Total Score: 20.5
There is no doubt that one bite of this monster cannoli is more than enough to dose up on sugar. From the chocolate coating to the chocolate chips, every bite is as rich as you’d imagine. You deserve a gold medal if you’re able to finish this one on your own, but that shouldn’t detract from its spot-on taste.
10. Yellow Cream
Total Score: 21
While the Yellow Cream is very similar to Plain Ricotta Cheese, the two differ in consistency and taste. There’s a vanilla essence in the filling—something that’s omitted in the original cannoli. Although it is rather delicious, it doesn’t necessarily stack up with the classic.
Total Score: 21.5
This one is a pleasant surprise. What separated this pastry from the rest of the nut-based family is that the hazelnut isn’t overwhelming. It almost tastes like a Ferrero Rocher truffle without the chocolate.
Total Score: 22
The Oreo cannoli is as faithful to the original snack as possible. The crumbs are a nice touch as well as a fun twist on the usual chocolate chips. Even the filling is an Oreo color.
7. Mint Chip
Total Score: 22.5
The color was indicative of what the flavor would be and is probably the perfect cannoli to eat on St. Patrick’s Day. Whether you like mint or not, the chocolate chips counteract the cool, breezy flavor, creating an all-around, even taste.
6. Chocolate Chip
Total Score: 23
Chocolate Chip is one of the bakery’s two most popular flavors. That should come as no surprise, since adding chocolate chips will make almost anything better. It may seem like a small detail, but it adds a crunch and a good juxtaposition to the soft filling.
Total Score: 23.5
The Chocolate-Dipped edged out the Chocolate Chip by a slither as there is very minimal difference between the two. It wasn’t as crunchy, so it worked the mouth a little less.
4. Chocolate Mousse
Total Score: 24
The Chocolate Mousse is undoubtedly the best in Mike’s chocolate series, and is very similar to Chocolate Ricotta. The small difference is that the filling has a lighter consistency and comes drizzled with chocolate, too.
3. Plain Ricotta Cheese
Total Score: 24.5
There should be no surprise that the original claims a bronze medal. The plain ricotta cheese is the perfect balance of shell and filling. It epitomizes the mantra of “less is more.” Slane says the standard filling allows you to appreciate how good the shell is, describing it as “flaky and crunchy.”
Total Score: 25
Florentine is not only one of the shop’s best sellers but it is also the only one with an unique shell. The shell is thicker and darker in color, a standout feature that gives this cannoli a competitive bump over the rest. It is undeniably the star for this pastry.
Total Score: 27
The Espresso is perfect for any and all coffee-lovers. Powdered with cinnamon, it offers a creamy satisfaction that tastes less like an espresso and probably more of a latte. Regardless, we deem it as the best cannoli from Mike’s. It is unbelievably delicious.
All photos courtesy of GuruAmar Khalsa.