Donato’s Bakery History

Donato’s Bakery has its origins in a long standing family tradition of bread makers going back a century to a southern Italian mountain town of Simbario, Calabria. Bread making a century ago was not much different from that of the ancient Romans. The bread itself is a simple recipe of flour, water, salt and yeast and not much more. It was baked in a wood oven that was carefully watched by a skillful eye since thermometers and gages were non existent. Although the recipe is a simple one, the art of making it is anything less than simple. The process involves an intricate knowledge of the ingredients and process along with several hours of laborious kneading, setting, rising, shaping and baking at precise steps and sequence. This tradition can be traced back to the early 1900s through the “Marinara Clan” with the teaching of this skill to Caterina Primerano (di la Marinara). She was the first daughter of Concetta di la Marinara born in 1903. By 1910, young Caterina was already able to make bread on her own. Once she was married to Giuseppe Romano, he was so impressed with the baking skills of his young wife that, as a wedding present to her, he had a commercial oven built for her and she quickly started to make bread for those who asked for her services. Payment for her skills usually came in the form of some of the bread that was made for the respected families or other forms of monetary disbursements. Caterina di la Marinara had four daughters whom she has passed this traditional skill to. They are; Rosaria(†), Concetta(†), Maria(†) and Immacolata. All of whom were active in the bread making process alongside their mother, even after they all got married. Her daughters continued to use the original wood oven for their own personal and commercial baking need as well. Immacolata once remembered, as a young girl, was tasked by her mother to take a basket full of bread to the near by village to sell for some extra cash. It should also be noted that Caterina’s wood oven stayed in use right up until her passing in 2001. The eldest daughter, Rosaria(†) (Married to Bruno Donato(†)), along with her sister Immaculata, brought this tradition over to Canada and specifically to Thunder Bay, Ontario. Rosaria(†) has two daughters, Rosina and Caterina whom also have been taught the traditional skills passed on by mother to daughter. The youngest daughter, Caterina, named in honour of the original matriarch, has in turn passed this skill on to her Sons and specifically to Donato (Donny) who is now the principal bread baker at Donato’s Bakery in Thunder bay. Caterina (Cathy) could not be more pleased with her family’s fervour to continue the tradition of the “Marinara” bread making clan that now stretches back more than a century. Caterina Donato Bruno di la Marinara, Granddaughter of the original matriarch Caterina Primerano di la Marinara(†) of Simbario, Calabria, has herself 3 Sons (James, Donny & David) whom she has passed her skills to and who are, even now, making bread in the traditional manner by hand using only the simplest ingredients with no preservatives and following the original steps and process as set out by their Great Grandmother. Today, although the bread and pizza made in Thunder Bay are no longer baked in a wood fired oven, they are however, baked on stones much like those found in the original wood oven back in the old country.

Donato’s Bakery Life

The origins of Donato’s Bakery in Thunder Bay lie, in the most part, to a father-son-family endeavour leading to its founding in 1994 when Nino Bruno seized an opportunity and helped his Sons in opening the first bakery in the family since that of the original old wood fired oven of their Great Grandmother in Simbario, Calabria. Today Donato’s offers pizza; prepared take-out dishes, traditional bread and sweet products, and is open 24 hours a day. Donato’s Bakery operations are based on passion for the traditional way of doing things and excellence in quality and taste. Caterina Donato Bruno and Nino Bruno together have three Sons, James, Donny and David whom are all committed to creating taste sensations through their pizzas, breads, pies, cheesecake and bite-size tart creations. Donato’s prides themselves in their capacity to offer customers delicious food and tailor-made service solutions, big or small. We have three ovens; the largest of the three has the capacity to cook 30 pizza´s at one time or over 100 traditional Italian loaves. Our Bis-Nonna (Great Grandma) in the old country would have been proud! Services include private and public functions, cafeterias, cafés, restaurants, conference and meeting venues as well as food services for schools and public service organisations. Donato’s also offers sweet trays for catering services for special occasions, catering companies or catered events.