NIAGARA FALLS – Whether you’re hankering for a homemade breakfast or in the mood for a light lunch, there’s a tasty new option in the LaSalle area.
Actually, there are a couple of outstanding options, and the good news is that they’re within blocks of each other: Macoretta’s, 6926 Buffalo Ave., and Confetti Cottage, 7917 Buffalo Ave., are delightful doppelgangers that are also diametrically different. Macoretta’s is a purebred bakery/cafe. Confetti Cottage is also a bakery/cafe, but with traces of gift boutique and coffee bar mixed in.
If you’re looking for fresh, tasty bakery treats, you can’t go wrong at either place.
For now I’m going to focus on Macoretta’s.
First, a bit of history: The Macoretta name first showed up in the food business all the way back in the 1920s, when the Macoretta Bros. grocery opened in Thorold, Ont. Some time later, a new generation of Macorettas took things a step further, opening a general store on Cleveland Avenue in Niagara Falls. The newest incarnation of the family business is a spiffy new storefront cafe/coffee shop along the shores of the upper Niagara River.
Owner Angie Ciraolo promises “a remarkable experience of authentic tastes and surroundings,” and that is exactly what she delivers.
Now, the place is nothing fancy, residing in a converted storefront, but it does serve nicely as a neighborhood gathering place, with a few tables, homey decor and a streetside view. Angie dishes chatty conversation right alongside her delightful delicacies.
As it turns out, over the course of several occasions, I have managed to sample a large portion of the menu, and I can honestly say that I have never had anything less than totally enjoyable, with some escalating to outright outrageous. For instance, the $2 scones and cinnamon rolls have a buttery, flaky essence that sets them apart from any I’ve had anywhere else.
My only real complaint, if you want to call it that, is that the menu is not that extensive. Granted, it’s only a breakfast and lunch place – at least for now – and a small operation at that. But with food this good, you just want to be able to sample more and more. Hopefully, that will be the case somewhere down the road.
Now, I’ve never been a quiche or frittata “fan,” but after trying the quiche at Macoretta’s, that may just change. The spinach, red pepper and cheese quiche was fluffy and moist and extremely flavorful, with each of the major ingredients coming through in equal measure. It had a very nice consistency, and although the cheese was quite evident, it did not override the other flavors. Well done!
Selections tend to vary by season, as ingredients go in and out of availability. One of my favorite dishes during the summer was the Greek salad ($6). It was atypical in that it focused not so much on salad greens as on cubed cucumber, blended with diced tomato, black olives, red onion and feta cheese. Lightly dressed with a tasty sauce, it was marvelous in its simplicity, yet deliciously satisfying. I’m not certain whether it will be available during the cold months, but if not, it was great while it lasted – and it will be back soon enough.
If you’re looking for a big meal, this probably isn’t your place – unless it’s breakfast, and then you will probably be just fine (as long as you like pastries and the like). For lunch, Macoretta’s offers homemade soup and assorted sandwiches, along with all those tempting baked goods.
The meatball sandwich ($6 for a full sandwich, $3.50 for a half) was like an old friend; as comfortable as a pair of well broken-in slippers on a bitter winter night, as familiar as a family get-together. Consisting of a crusty soft roll topped with a meatloaf-like slice of pure heaven, it was finished with melted cheese and a light tomato sauce. If you were to make it yourself at home, you would hope that it would turn out as well. Definitely like mom’s.
An egg salad sandwich was set apart with slices of ripe avocado, giving it a fresh perspective. I also enjoyed the BLT macaroni salad, a light and breezy affair that had a unique flavor. The blueberry muffins ($2) were very moist and very, very berry-y.
The orange creamsicle scone was flaky and buttery and not at all dry or heavy, as many scones tend to be. I frequently approach with caution, but have absolutely no hesitation in recommending this tasty little concoction. Ditto for the cinnamon roll, which lacked the heavy icing of many of its genre (are you listening, Cinnamonster?), but more than made up for it with a tangy, aromatic cinnamon sensation that wasn’t the least overpowering.
The best news? Nothing here is going to break the bank – even if it is a piggy bank.
On the sweet and savory side, you can get anything from a big cookie ($2) to a biscotti ($1). For those looking for a little something more, you can get soup ($3/$4.50) during the cold months, a half or whole sandwich ($3.50/$6), a slice of frittata or quiche ($4), salad ($6) or a yogurt parfait ($4.50).
Stop in for a bit of respite and a bite of baked bliss.
6926 Buffalo Ave., Niagara Falls, 371-0503
3.5 stars (out of four)
Favorite dish: The meatball sandwich
Needs work: Menu expansion
Healthy choice: The quiche
Price range: Very reasonable
Service: Very good
Noise level: Easy on the ears
Wheelchair access: Yes
Kid appeal: Not a problem
Hours: 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday through Friday; 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday; Closed Sunday and Monday.