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A zig-zag pattern of cannoli from Mike’s Pastry and Modern Pastry, arranged on a white background. Some are garnished with chocolate chips or pistachios.
A spread of cannoli from both Mike’s Pastry and Modern Pastry, but don’t eat them all: Save room for sfogliatella
Chris Coe for Eater

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North End Dessert Crawl: Cannoli, Sfogliatella, Biscotti, and Cappuccino

Mike’s and Modern are the obvious choices, but don’t sleep on Bova’s

Welcome back to Food Crawls, a series in which Eater Boston staffers guide you (virtually) on various food crawls in the Boston area.

When we go out, we often find ourselves wanting to try more than one restaurant at a time — a drink and a snack here, another drink and perhaps a dessert there — and want to share our favorite multi-stop combinations with you. These crawls are meant to be relatively walkable, and the amount of food and drink is meant to correspond roughly to a couple of average appetites (so bring a friend), although your mileage may vary. Email us if there’s a particular theme, specific dish or drink, or neighborhood you’d like to see covered in a future installment.

So you’ve eaten your North End lunch (and maybe you’re a little drunk too), and now it’s time for your North End dessert. It’s maybe a bit of a cliché, but an eater in the North End could do worse than stopping at Mike’s Pastry, Modern Pastry, Bova Bakery, and Caffé Vittoria.

Forget the cannoli wars, though: Get your cannoli at Mike’s — it’s good for the ‘gram — and go for sfogliatella at Modern. Hit Bova for biscotti — and maybe even an M&M cookie even though it’s decidedly not Italian — and finish up at Vittoria for a cappuccino.

Stats for this food crawl:

  • Total stops: 4
  • Total mileage: Like, 450 steps
  • Total streets: Just the two. The best two (Salem and Hanover).
  • Cannoli eaten: Just one (cannolo, if you want to be pedantic)
  • Difficult-to-pronounce Italian pastries eaten: Again, just one
  • Instagram likes: How many “friends” you got?

Cannoli at Mike’s Pastry

300 Hanover St, Boston, MA 02113

The exterior of Mike’s Pastry’s North End location features a large gray sign above the entrance with “Mike’s Pastry” written twice in yellow cursive
Mike’s is the ultimate North End institution
Terrence B. Doyle/Eater Boston

The North End cannoli debate is long and contentious: Mike’s or Modern? Truth is, one can’t go wrong with either. But those boxes at Mike’s, with their pretty little ties and their cerulean blue on bright white, are hard to beat, and they’ll just look so good on social media. Hit Mike’s for cannoli — there’s something better waiting at Modern anyway.

Sfogliatella at Modern Pastry

257 Hanover St, Boston, MA 02113

The exterior of Modern Pastry Shop in Boston’s North End features a red and green sign and a green and white striped awning. Large Christmas wreaths hang above the sign in this photo.
The sfogliatella — or, lobster tails — at Modern are about as good as they are in Campania, the region of their provenance
Terrence B. Doyle/Eater Boston

Okay, so Modern has sublime cannoli, but you just ate one at Mike’s, and it’s time for something else. Which is to say, it’s time for sfogliatella. Known to some Americans (erroneously) as lobster tails, these flaky, incredibly difficult-to-make pastries are filled with orange-flavored ricotta, and Modern does the best version outside of Napoli, the city of their provenance. (Honestly, the version at Modern might actually be better than any in Napoli.)

Biscotti at Bova’s Bakery

134 Salem St, Boston, MA 02113

Bova’s North End
Bova’s is as off the beaten path as can be in the North End (which isn’t much), but it’s open 24 hours
Terrence B. Doyle for Eater

The amount of late night square slices I’ve eaten at Bova’s is...well, it’s embarrassing. This North End haunt — which, like Pizzeria Regina, has been slinging food since 1926 — is open 24 hours, which means it’s a magnet for the less-than-sober crowd come 2 a.m. The square slice is good; the M&M cookie is good; the Italian wedding cookies are as good as Italian wedding cookies can be. But the biscotti is the star of the show. Get a stick or two to go, and immediately walk toward Caffé Vittoria on Hanover Street.

Cappuccino at Caffé Vittoria

290-296 Hanover St, Boston, MA 02113

Caffé Vittoria North End
Go to Vittoria; feel like you’re in Italy
Terrence B. Doyle for Eater

The interior of Caffé Vittoria looks like the interior of a cafe in a Fellini film. It’s full of fancy Italian espresso machines and marble, and it does a fantastic cappuccino. And that cappuccino is best served with those biscotti from Bova’s. Dip away, folks.

Caffe Vittoria

290-296 Hanover Street, , MA 02113 (617) 227-7606 Visit Website

Bova's Bakery

134 Salem Street, , MA 02113 (617) 523-5601 Visit Website

Mike's Pastry

300 Hanover Street, , MA 02113 (617) 742-3050 Visit Website

Modern Pastry Shop

263 Hanover St, Boston, MA 02113 (617) 523-3783 Visit Website