Debra Reuter now lives in Port Colborne, but when she lived in Mississauga for a time after moving from Niagara Falls, she made it a point to return regularly to the honeymoon capital to buy a few loaves of Italian bread. from the Portage Bakery.
“When I was in Mississauga, I took the bus to the falls to get to Port Colborne where my mom is,” she said. “I took six loaves of bread home with me on the bus every month. “
Reuter said that during his childhood, Italian bakery bread was a part of everyday life.
“My grandmother only bought Portage,” she says. “This is where my love for it came from: she took two pieces with jam every morning.” Their is the best.
Rosario Barone knows the iconic reputation of this bread, and he’s not about to start playing with what many consider perfection.
So when he took over the bakery at the corner of Ferry Street and Gladstone Avenue 50 years ago, he made sure to keep the original recipe from when the bakery was founded in 1934.
Barone modernized many operations and expanded the business, expanding the bakery’s offering and adding the Barone Deli and Café, but kept the recipe – perfected by the Mottola family, who established the bakery in a small garage across the street. of the Grand Niagara General Hospital during the Great Depression.
Barone’s Story is the classic success story of an immigrant from a hardworking young man from a former village in Italy who didn’t speak English, jumped on a boat in his twenties with nothing more than two suitcases, and sailed to the new world to forge a new life.
He traveled to Silvertown in Niagara Falls, where a cousin hosted him, and landed a night job at Brights Wines. He walked there in the middle of the night along the train tracks after evening classes, where he learned the notoriously difficult English language.
He then got a job at the bakery, where he became a valuable employee through hard work.
“I delivered the bread to homes in the city,” Barone said. “The bread cost 22 cents a bread or five to the dollar.”
In 1971 he took over the business and soon after met his future wife Jolantha, while they were both at a wedding party in the city. Together, they raised a family while running a busy business.
Barone still uses two massive and original ovens in the bakery, which help give the bread its characteristic taste. “It’s just wheat, yeast, water and salt,” he said of the recipe.
Barone has widened the scope of the bakery over time, selling to restaurants and hotels across the river, where his bread is coveted. He attributes some of that to the wheat it is made from, which he gets from the fields of Manitoba.
Barone said there are many people who have contributed to the bakery’s lasting success.
“We have a great staff and family who help keep things moving, and luckily we also have strong patronage from our customers,” he said.