If you have a sweet tooth, head for Sudbury, where we’ve got the scoop on three of the city’s classic sweet shops.
Sweet Nothings Bakery
When Carol Pugliese and her husband Ted first opened Sweet Nothings Bakery back in 1996, Carol suggested painting the walls hot bubblegum pink to draw attention to their fledgling business. She’ll tell you she meant it as a joke, but many coats of pink paint later, this family-owned bakeshop at 619 Kathleen Street has kept its rose-colored theme.
You’ll usually find Carol behind the counter, where the display cases are filled with pastries, pies, and cookies that, according to Carol, are “all old family favorites, made from scratch.” She’s the one wearing bright pink clothing.
Both Carol and Ted grew up in Sudbury and, after stints in Toronto—she trained in an Italian pastry shop, he worked as a chef—they returned home to raise their son and daughter and cater to Sudbury’s pastry-loving population.
Carol says that they typically sell more than 30 dozen butter tarts every week, along with shortbread, rum balls, and French-Canadian sugar pies. They make ready-to-eat meals, too, including lasagna, quiche, and meat pies, as well as a homemade antipasto from Ted’s grandmother’s recipe.
Carol and Ted have decorated the homey shop’s pink walls with family photos and their kids’ sports trophies. But the fuchsia theme turns up in unexpected ways, too. Carol recalls that a friend once made matching pink T-shirts for her and Ted.
Hers said, “Sweet.” His said, “Nothing.”
“People don’t make traditional foods anymore,” says Max Massimiliano, owner of Sudbury’s Regency Bakery at 1355 Regent Street. “But they still want them.”
Started more than 30 years ago by his father, who immigrated to Sudbury from Italy, Regency continues to draw both the older and younger generations with their traditional Italian fare.
Originally an Italian bakeshop, Regency Bakery has branched out. You can still buy authentic ricotta-filled Sicilian cannoli, as well as Italian breads and other classic pastries, but the shop is at least as well known for its porchetta, made fresh daily and served in lunchtime sandwiches.
There’s a long, well-stocked deli counter, homemade pastas, and prepared meals made from old-school recipes. As Max says, “we make lasagna like your Mom’s lasagna.” There’s a separate café now, too, serving coffee, gelato, and what Max calls “fancier pastries for the new generation,” like chocolate-dipped éclairs.
Yet some things don’t change. “A lot of customers we know by their first name,” Max says, and he estimates that 40 percent of their clients are native Italian speakers. And why not, when the breads, pastries, meats, and meals at Regency Bakery are just like nonna used to make?
Sudbury has one of the largest Finnish communities in Canada, according to Erika Carrion, who manages the Finnish bakery that her grandparents, Arvi and Elli Leinala, established in the 1960s after emigrating from Finland.
Leinala’s Bakery remains a gathering place for Sudbury’s Finnish residents. “They meet here, they leave their mail here,” Erika says. Beyond this sense of community, the traditional baked goods, imported cheeses, Finnish-made dishes and glassware, and even supplies for the sauna, draw them to this shop and café at 272 Caswell Drive.
Of course, you don’t have to be Finnish to appreciate Leinala’s signature items. Customers come from miles around for the “jelly pigs” (jam-filled donuts) and the pulla, a bread that resembles a cinnamon loaf, but flavored instead with cardamom, a spice frequently used in Scandinavian baked goods. The bakery also makes a savory moccasin-shaped pie filled with rice, called karjalanpiirakka.
“We have a word, sisu, that means perseverance,” Erika says, when she talks about maintaining her grandparents’ legacy. It’s important that the next generation remains proud to be Finnish and keeps the community traditions alive, she adds, jelly pigs and all.
Where are your favorite bakeries in the region? Let us know in the comments!