Maria’s Pastry Shop
46 Cross Street
Boston, MA 02113-2201
I’ve always wondered if there actually exists a gender-based predisposition towards sweets, and if there is, whether it is environmental, or genetic. Most huge sweet fans I know are mostly women. Now I have guy friends who love their sweets too, but they are few and far between. All this really means to me is when a member of the fairer sex tells me there’s a great bakery I *MUST* try, because they have the best cannoli ever, I don’t question it, I just go.
Located in Boston’s North End right off of Haymarket Station, Maria’s Pastry Shop is in an area that boasts a lot of pastry shops of reputation. Both Mike’s, and Modern are in the same vicinity, making for a great selection of pastry goodness.
The interior is a mildly disorganized mess of gastronomic treats. Maria bakes every day, and the shop is loaded with a wide random assortment of baked goods. In what became several visits, they would often sell out of various baked goods. What they are best known for, are their cannoli, and their sfogiatella.
Cannoli and I have quite the past. Well, nothing so dramatic, but I do remember my first cannoli on my very first visit to Italy. It was amazing. Light, crisp, flaky exterior, with the smoothest rich custard filling in perfect proportion. Im a big fan of custard, so this was up there in terms of ideal.
Back in North America, I was having trouble finding the same thing. Cannoli’s were chunky, too doughy, and often filled with cream and not custard. Even when you found a nice custard filling, the shell usually tasted off. Sometimes with a bit of fridge taint. Most one’s i’d had were out of proportion in their ratio of shell to custard.
These cannolis are different. The cannoli come in many different varieties – for my own purposes, i chose a chocolate dipped shell and a regular shell. Baked fresh every day, so they’ve never been sitting around. They are also filled when you order them, not pre-filled, with a fresh rich, creamy ricotta filling.
The fill to order really does do the trick. The shell remains flaky, light and crispy, the inside is rich, custardy, and smooth. A delectable balance with just slightly too much filling. Can there really be such a thing? Well, maybe. They are, however, extremely tasty.
While Mike’s Pastry and Modern Pastry are more popular, I feel like Maria’s is the authentic Italian bakery experience in Boston’s North End, complete with friendly, unrushed service. Her cannoli’s are sublime – and for a person who prefers salty foods, that says a lot.