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Crivellers - The Sweetest Place in Niagara

In his uncluttered chocolate-making work area, Leonardo (Leo) Priore holds up a large plastic mould of a Christmas tree. "In the old days, we used to place a small toy inside the hollow there, but now it's a $100 bill or a gift certificate," he jokes. Along with partner, Giovanni Del Priore, Leo is co-owner of Criveller Cakes , "The Sweetest Place in Niagara," and after sampling a few delicious creations in their Niagara Falls patisserie near Five Corners, I readily agree.

Criveller Cakes They specialize in European-style wedding cakes (650 per year), custom specialty cakes, gourmet chocolates (all hand-dipped) truffles, pastries, delectable cookies and tasty favours for all occasions. I also notice specialty items displayed such as chocolate business cards and sport and business logos, including that of the Toronto Sun!

I watch employee Joe Marchio expertly work from a trade secret machine (I'm not allowed to photograph) to fashion the unique ruffled "tissue-paper" design to their signature white chocolate wedding-cake. "Desserts should be delectable to both palate and eye," observes Giovanni who specializes in the cake department while Leonardo oversees chocolates. They credit both family and their 12 employees for their success, and Giovanni observes, "It's all about attention to details," which explains their popularity in the Niagara-Toronto corridor along with die-hard customers from as far away as Rochester, New York and London in southwestern Ontario.

Despite similar surnames, Giovanni hails from Guardia Dei Lombardi near Naples and Leonardo from Montevideo, Uruguay. They co-owned three pizzerias in St. Catharines and Niagara Falls before purchasing Criveller.

Giovanni with signature cake, photo by Mike Keenan   Leonardo Priore with chocolates, photo by Mike Keenan   Two happy partners, photo by Mike Keenan

The raw chocolate product comes from Belgium, and the recipes are European. There are no preservatives or additives. "Everything is fresh," exclaims Giovanni. "The shelf life is short." However, as Leo cheerfully points out, "There are never any leftovers!" They crank out 160 unique fresh items per week. I try Leo's "Icewine truffle" and a "Chocolate Chantilly" with caramel that melts in my mouth. Yum! The cakes have a particular alcoholic base except those destined for their many Mediterranean customers.

Criveller is a favourite at Niagara banquet halls. I watch Giovanni artistically place the finishing touches on a hazel nut and white chocolate cake ordered three hours ago. Their multi-tiered wedding cakes might employ different flavours and ingredients per tier, but generally work out to $6 per person, some fetching up to $2,000! "We make every conceivable kind of cake," says Giovanni, "weddings, baptism, first communion, even 'good riddance' cakes for amicable divorces!"

After working together for over 21 years, Giovanni and Leo often finish each other's sentences. "We are precise," begins Giovanni; "and particular," adds Leo. Their easy camaraderie and expertise has been captured on TV programs, and that medium might be an exciting new venture to explore.

Most of Criveller's delectable products are displayed on their website at: http://crivellercakes.ca/ Take a look, and you will understand why they are known far and wide as the Chocolate Craft Store.

To Visit
Criveller Cakes: 4435 Portage Rd., Niagara Falls, ON, L2E 6A7, ph: (905) 356-9441

Criveller Cakes - Gio:

Criveller Cakes - Leo:

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