Venezia Bakery has been an institution for delicious baked goods on Ossington Avenue since 1979. Maria Caetano and her husband João have owned it since 1984. Caetano first arrived in Toronto in 1972 from Braga, a Northern city of Portugal with her parents, her three brothers and her sister. Back in Braga, Caetano first started baking at home since her parents often baked their own bread and pastries. In her 20’s she worked for many years at local Portuguese bakeries before her family immigrated to Toronto.
In Toronto, Caetano found work at Venezia Bakery, which was originally an Italian owned bakery. She has fond memories of the Italian community welcoming her in her first years in Toronto and helping her with her English. When Caetano and her husband bought Venezia bakery they wanted to showcase the traditional Portuguese breads they grew up with and they decided to keep the name as to pay homage to her past.
Venezia bakery is open seven days a week and each day, the Caetanos start baking at 4am. On Saturdays, it’s common to bake over 1000 pastel de natas, Portuguese custard tarts. Aside from their signature tarts, they also bake a variety of traditional Portuguese breads and sweet pastries. Savoury items like bolinhos de bacalhau, fritters made with potato and salt cod and sandwiches on their homemade bread are popular during lunch hours. However, Caetano has a sweet tooth and their pastel de natas and their almond pastries are her favourites items.
Caetano is now in her 70’s and admits the work is hard but very rewarding at the same time. Since the bakery has been open for decades, strong relationships have been built with their regular customers. Special requests for cakes for baptisms and weddings mean a great deal to Caetano. Relationships with the staff of Venezia are worth noting as well – one of the bakers at Venezia has been there for over 30 years. Despite the evolving neighborhood and the occasional inquiry for selling the bakery, Caetano loves all the people who are part of Venezia and does not see that changing.