In the late 19th century, a construction boom brought to Niagara Falls an influx of tens of thousands of European immigrants—including huge numbers of Italians. And thank God for that, because today we can enjoy their delicious legacy in the form of hugely popular and authentic Italian bakeries. Yes, most bakeries in the Falls—including many of the best—are Italian-style, serving up sweet cannolis across from cured meats and crusty loaves of white bread.
If there’s a complaint to be made, it may be that the Italian dominance over our bakery scene has set certain standards and expectations for what a bakery should be. There doesn’t seem to be an appetite for French or Arab sweets, and so you won’t find a great diversity on this list. Alas. On the plus side, at least it makes comparisons between these local institutions a little easier, since we can compare apple tarts to apple tarts, so to speak.
You can’t go wrong with Niagara Falls’ oldest bakery. A huge display of sweets tempts shoppers lining up to checkout, while the cafe area serves up freshly prepped deli sandwiches, hot lasagna, and handmade meatballs. The bread also may be the best in the city, proving that this is one of the rare bakeries that nails everything it offers. Run by generations of a single family since 1934, the institution is so well established that politicans routinely show up: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made it his lone campaign stop in the Falls during the 2019 election, and Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath made an appearance in 2014. With food this good, you can see why.
Queen Street’s signature bakery is the perfect neighbourhood spot: friendly, unpretentious, affordable and delicious. Moodie’s thick-cut loaves of rye, white and semi-sourdough bread are solid and hefty, perfect for avocado toast and open-faced sandwiches, but the pastries and custom cakes are what keep folks coming back. Butter and fruit tarts, chocolate croissants, cheesecakes; if you’ve got a sweet tooth, Moodie’s is a must-visit spot to the city’s old downtown.
Down Lundy’s Lane is La Farina, a relatively young bakery and deli (opened in 2000) that also offers handmade frozen pasta, imported Italian groceries and an array of cafeteria-style hot prepared meals. But since the subject here is bakery, we’d be remiss not to focus on the simple staple that fuels this spot: bread. La Farina rivals Portage for the best Italian loaves in the city, with a soft, chewy crumb and sharp golden crust.
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Criveller is a different kind of bakery. Since 1979, this European-style patisserie focuses on elegant, elaborate custom cakes (especially wedding cakes) that dazzle the eyes. They also describe themselves as a “chocolate craft store,” and one look at their offerings — ice wine truffles, chocolate-dipped strawberries and fine chocolate bites — justifies the label. A great choice for high-end, Instagram-worthy desserts.