Monday, May 14, 2012

Modern Pastry: Always the Bridesmaid?

Modern Pastry lives just a block away from Mike's Pastry in the North End, and is often mentioned as the one Italian bakery that might compete with it. Yep, it's named "Modern Pastry" and it's an old-school Italian bakery. Cynics might say it's the bakery people go to when the line at Mike's is just too bloody long to wait in. But as I chatted with a local at the counter today, he said what a lot of Bostonians might find, that it's much less touristy and has the feel of a more personal bakery than Mike's. You will find two small cases of desserts and a wall of cookies in frumpy-but-practical bags.

Rather than 500 cannolis, Modern has about twenty, and they fill it for you there on the spot, so that you can be sure the crunchy stays crunchy.

Presentation doesn't seem to be quite as big a deal at Modern. It's the sort of place that wraps their whoopie pies in plastic bags to make sure they stay fresh. And their selection definitely varies from just traditional Italian goodies. Behind a slightly foggy case I spied some tasty looking fruit tarts.

So what is the cannoli verdict on Modern? I had the audacity to line up one of their cannolis with one of Mike's and do a mano-a-mano cannoli deathmatch. I cannot tell a lie. Modern's was the same price but half as big, the cookie shell was denser and the cream just didn't taste quite as good. It wasn't that it was bad, it just wasn't as dang tasty and impressive as a cannoli from Mike's Pastry. I fear that, yes, Modern Pastry's cannolis may well be the bridesmaid of Little Italy, as much as I was rooting for the underdog to win. But if you want a smaller, possibly less crowded experience (read: you have a chance of scoring a table here), give Modern Pastry a try. It might just charm you.

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