Maria's, The Locals' Best-Kept Secret In Boston

Everyone knows that Mike's Pastry and Modern Pastry are the places to go for cannolis in Boston's North End. That's precisely the problem. Sure, there's some charm to squeezing into one of the tables between the two massive lines of customers (the chocolate-covered chocolate chip cannoli at Mike's is worth a visit). But there are few things more exhilarating when traveling than finding that no-fuss, authentic joint that locals know as their best-kept secret. That's Maria's Pastry.

As with Modern, Maria's cannolis are filled upon ordering, but with the added benefit of losing most of the tourists. Located off Hanover Street, the North End's main drag, Maria's has all the claims of authenticity (family-run and operated since 1982, traditional Italian recipes), but it possesses a refreshing atmosphere. The place has a take-it-or-leave-it vibe. There's fluorescent lighting, a cat wanders around, and during one visit a customer got chided for complaining about the mini pizzas.

Once you order from behind the counter and sit down, they pretty much forget about you, which is a good thing considering you're not going to want to be distracted. The cannoli has a crunchy, but not overly brittle outer shell filled with a soft, not-too-sweet and incredibly fresh-tasting ricotta cream that rivals anything found at the more populated pastry destinations.