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Oct 5, 2010 11:00 AM

Has Mike's Pastry gone downhill?

When I was in my 20s living in Boston, I used to go to Mike's Pasty frequently for cannolis and later for sfogliatelle, which were pretty tasty. Now that I'm two decades older and out in the burbs, I don't get to the North End that often, but each time I go, it seems that the quality from Mike's gets worse. This past summer, I had a sfogliatelle from there that had a very artificial cinnamon taste. Last night, my husband stopped by Mike's on the way back from the airport and bought macaroons (the almond kind, which were okay), a plain cream puff, which was filled with an artificially flavored custard, a wax-chocolate covered cream puff, filled with the same artificial custard, and nastiest of all, a rhum baba, which was clearly dyed a fake yellow and soaked in vile, bitter fake rum syrup. Moreover, every single pastry tasted as if it contained sodium benzoate, the vilest non-food substance ever added to food, but that's a topic for another day.

So were cannolis the only thing that was ever decent there or has something happened? I don't intend to get anything from Mike's ever again, but I do need a new North End pastry shop, so would appreciate your recommendations. (And yes, I know the cannolis at Modern are decent, or at least they were the last time I was there.)

Oh, and why do bakeries ever use artificial anything? If you're going to the trouble of baking, why not use actual food?

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  1. Mike's reminds me of the European resto on that used to be next door on Hanover St.
    un-remarkable, shoulda gone to Modern.

    1 Reply
    1. re: treb

      Oh, this was worse than unremarkable. I will remember how bad these pastries were for a long time!

    2. Modern or Maria's. There's a cookie my wife likes at Mike's, but that's just about the only thing I'll get there. The sfogliatelle is especially good at Maria's, which is my preferred bakery, mainly because if you have more than 3 people in line in front of you at Modern, you might be there for 30+ minutes waiting..

      1. Also, honestly, I've never been a fan of Mike's cannoli either, mostly because they prefill them.

        1. My monthly trip to the North End for pastry is the following:

          Mike's for marzipan. My brother prefers the larger softer pieces. I did try one of their cannoli cupcakes last week and it was too bad. Way to much cannoli filling and not enough cake, but price wise it was good (I think $2.5). I plan to try a different flavor next time. But I tend to find Mike's too sweet and the servings too large. And I don't like having to wade through the tourists snapping pictures (both inside and outside of the restaurant).

          If the line isn't too long Modern for cookies. Sometimes I'll pick up my cannoli.

          Maria's for cannoli, black and whites, marzipan. I prefer the fill to order cannolis. I prefer the B&Ws at Marias (when they aren't stale) over the too sweet half moons @ Lyndells. My mother prefers the small and harder marzipan at Maria's. In the fridge @ Maria's they have single serve tiramisu. It makes a snack to eat while walking around (or while waiting for the T @ Haymarket).

          My roommate swears by the cookies at Bova's, but I regularly doubt his food/restaurant preferences.

          134 Salem St, Boston, MA

          1 Reply
          1. re: viperlush

            Bova's is good in a pinch (and I love that they're open 24 hours), but Maria's pastries and cookies are better. I was never a big fan of Mike's.

            134 Salem St, Boston, MA

          2. They must have gone from bad to terrible. I don't remember Mike's ever being good. I went once 23 years ago and the cannoli I had tasted like a weatabix wafer stuffed with slightly sweetend vream cheese. Yeah, pretty nasty.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Guinness02122

              Yeah, a part of me wondered if my taste had improved over the years.

              1. re: Isolda

                It's entirely possible that Mike's is as mediocre to bad as it's always been (to be fair, the sesame cookies are pretty good), but your tastes have changed. That's as likely a scenario as anything.