Holy cannoli: Montreal bakery celebrates 50 years in the making

If you're in Montreal's Little Italy neighbourhood walking along Dante Street, you may be serenaded by live music and be handed a free slice of pizza, cannoli or coffee.

'We want to say thanks,' says Alati-Caserta's Linda Savoca as bakery celebrates 50 years

Alati-Caserta was founded by Vittorio Caldarone, left, and is run today by his son Marco Caldarone, centre, and Marco's wife Linda Savoca. (Submitted by Linda Savoca)

If you're in Montreal's Little Italy walking along Dante Street today, you'll be serenaded by live music and be handed a free pizza, cannoli or coffee.

A neighbourhood institution, Alati-Caserta bakery, turns 50 — and the owners are throwing a party to show appreciation for their clients.

"We want to say thanks for the business for the past 50 years," said Linda Savoca, who has been working at the bakery for more than two decades.

"When people walk in and they're ordering a cake or bringing home pastries, they're bringing it home to celebrate something to get together with friends and families. I just love that idea."

Alati-Caserta bakery first opened in Montreal in 1968. Staff have been making Italian sweets and desserts for the last 50 years. (Submitted by Linda Savoca)
​Savoca's been working alongside her husband Marco Caldarone, who is the son of the original founders.

"I fell in love with the place right away," Savoca told CBC's Daybreak.

Now a fixture in Little Italy, the shop originally opened in 1968 on St. Viateur and Clarke streets. Back then it was just called Caserta, the name of the Italian province from which founder Vittorio Caldarone was born.

Caldarone and his wife, Maria Di Meo, added "Alati" in the 1970s when they moved to their current location on Dante Street — a spot they purchased from another bakery owner named Mr. Alati.

Over the last five decades, the bakery has offered an array of desserts. Some recipes have evolved over time, now featuring gluten-free options. Other recipes have never been modified, such as their amaretti cookies.
Cannoli fillings include flavours such as custard, pistachio and the traditional ricotta with chocolate chips. (Facebook/Alati-Caserta)

Cannoli flavour fillings include ricotta, pistachio, tiramisu, limoncello, chocolate and custard. Of course, Alati-Caserta also offer the most traditional filling: ricotta with chocolate chips.

The latest trend includes many custom cakes. According to Savoca, ever since television shows like Cake Boss have emerged, they receive more elaborate and unusual requests, including some marijuana-themed cakes in recent weeks.

Now Savoca and the Caldarone family are gearing up for the approaching holiday season.

The shop stays open on Christmas day to feed the crowds who attend mass across the street at Notre-Dame-de-la-Défense church — and the worshippers know it.

"We can't not open now," said Savoca.

Until then, cannoli are half-price for the entire month of November and people are invited to stop by Sunday.

"We will be serving pizza, cannoli, coffee — everything out on the street."

With files from CBC Daybreak