If you’re a cannoli lover, or just turn into one every time you set foot in the North End, you probably get in the same line every time.
But on my last adventure to this mecca of pasta, pastries, and absolutely no street parking, when I finally located the end of the Mike’s line (practically in Everett) I had plenty of time to wonder. Is one of these places really that much better than the other? Do people just get in the shorter line? Have they ever even tried the other? Or is that a certain kind of Boston no no, like rooting for the Yankees?
When I finally made it to the front of that mob–not an easy task on a warm Sunday night in June–I waved my crumpled wad of sweaty cash, clasped my white cardboard box of sesame cookies and amaretto cannoli, and savored my victory for a moment. And I decided I had to know.
“We have 20 minutes until dinner,” I told my boyfriend. “Let’s go to Modern.” And we raced down the street. I felt kind of like I was crossing the picket line, or something. I was the only person at Modern already clutching a giant box busting with pastries. A group of women waiting ahead of me tittered to each other, and finally commented that I was very persistent. “I need to know which is better,” I explained. They nodded to one another, considering this.
Somehow we managed to score another cannoli (Modern has fewer choices, so it was a plain one, no frills) and still make our reservation. And later that night, after multiple courses of pasta, it was finally time. I opened box number one in the light of the refrigerator. Then box number two. Then box number one. Be brutal, I told myself. But there was no need.
The next morning as I dripped coffee down the front of myself and searched frantically for my keys, one shoe missing, hair soaking wet–I remembered the half eaten cannolis and turned back to the kitchen. I couldn’t stop myself from standing there with my purse in my hand, watching the clock, and polishing off those two, heavenly last bites.
It was the Modern cannoli that left me with no choice but to sneak into my cube 20 minutes late in a sugar coma. Really, the perfect breakfast, I marveled as I sat there wanting more–temporarily forgetting the Olympic ordeal that it took to get them. Side by side, the Modern cannoli just tasted lighter. It was delicate, flaky, crisp. And the ricotta wasn’t too sweet. I wouldn’t turn down an amaretto cannoli from Mike’s, don’t get me wrong. Especially with a nice strong espresso, after say some all’amatriciana and a bottle of Italian wine.
But for now, I can ponder a new question. And next time I’ll be getting in the Modern line first.