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By Andrea Stach
The Bruno Family (L to R): Caterina (the matriarch), her youngest son David (holding the original bakery key from Simbario, Italy), daughter-in-law
Francesca and her husband, middle-son Donato (aka Donny). Missing are Caterina's husband, Nino and her eldest son, James.
The loaves were baked all day long
in a wood fired oven that lacked any
type of gauge to measure temperature.
As it was imperative to keep the oven
door closed to maintain a consistent
temperature, Primerano used an inge-
nious system of lining the seam of the
door with dough so she could track
the bread’s progress. When the seam
was golden brown, so was her bread.
Primerano shared her gift with many
families in her village as a means to
support her family.
Fast forward 80 years and Donato’s
Bakery was born. Primerano’s eldest
daughter moved to Thunder Bay with
her sister, and the art has been passed
down to each generation. Donato
Bruno, the oldest great-great grandson
of Primerano, and his brother James
opened the bakery 20 years ago. Though
the wood oven has been replaced, they
still use the original recipe, free of preser-
vatives and made by hand. The Brunos
are also well-known for their homemade
pizza, with sauce made fresh daily.
The bakery still has its roots in fam-
ily, with all five members of the Donato
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clan contributing to its success. You can
try a crostoli, a delectable pastry coated in
icing sugar made by Donato’s mom, or a
taralli, a specially-made breadstick made
with black anise seeds that David Bruno
(the youngest brother) brings back him-
self from Calabria every couple of years.
The cinnamon buns, black velvet cake,
and cheesecake are equally tempting.
Later this month, the family plans to
invite everyone to the bakery for a week
of baking celebrations to commemorate
their great-great grandmother’s 100-
year legacy, and 20 years of success for
Donato’s Bakery. Plan to visit to sample
some baked nostalgia and taste a deli-
cious piece of history.
Find Donato’s Bakery at 161 Court
Street South, open 24 hours a day, Monday
through Saturday, 345-7273.
M any great recipes get
passed through a family.
Yet few have gone the dis-
tance and have the longevity of those
of Caterina Primerano, the matriarch
and inspiration of Donato’s Bakery in
Thunder Bay. Born in 1903 in Simbario,
Calabria (a mountainous area of central
Italy), Primerano began baking bread
under the guidance of her own mother
when she was seven years old. Using
only unrefined flour, yeast, salt, and
water, the bread was considered to be a
“poor man’s bread,” as it used the wheat
they grew themselves.
Bay and area,
in the new and
market for over
thirty five years.
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807-346-9099 • 16 S. Court St.
Thunder Bay, ON
www.perfectfitlingerie.ca The Walleye