Founded in Toronto in 1991
Having fresh bread at home, drinking your coffee in the morning, either in Portugal or here in Toronto. The bakery is part of the daily life of a Portuguese – Alex Dias.
Founded in 1991 by Joe Dias in Toronto’s Little Portugal neighbourhood, Nova Era is today one of the largest chains of Portuguese bakeries and cafés in Ontario, with multiple locations across the province. This family business employs over a hundred workers, many of them Portuguese immigrants. One of its most popular products is the pastel de nata (custard tart), which it sells in large quantities to grocery stores and other food stores.
Founded by Joe Dias in 1991 in the heart of Toronto’s Little Portugal neighbourhood, Nova Era bakeries has become one of the most recognizable Portuguese-Canadian brands among Torontonians. While there had been other Portuguese bakeries – the first, Lisbon Bakery, was founded in 1958 and a rival chain Caldense Bakeries opened in 1968 – Nova Era helped cement European coffeehouse culture in the city. Unlike the traditional grab-and-go coffee culture of North America, Nova Era’s neighbourhood bakeries were inspired by Portuguese cafés, as places for socializing with locals, watching Portuguese television (usually RTPi), and spending time in. Nova Era’s bakeries, where the staff speaks Portuguese, are especially important social spaces for older Portuguese immigrants and newcomers who have difficulties speaking English.
Nova Era’s volume of sales grows during the Christmas holidays, when Portuguese immigrants seek traditional seasonal foods, like bolo rei (King’s bread), sonhos (dreams), filhoses (similar to beaver tails), and malassadas (similar to doughnuts). In addition to baked goods, pastries, and coffee-based drinks, Nova Era, like other Portuguese bakeries and cafés, also serves snack foods, like soups, salads, and sandwiches – the most popular being bifanas (pork cutlet or steak sandwiches) and tostas mistas (grilled ham and cheese sandwiches).
Since the first bakery opened on 1172 Dundas St. West, Nova Era opened eight other locations in Toronto, Mississauga, Kitchener, London, and Ajax. This family business employs over one hundred workers, many of them Portuguese immigrants; including bakers, who have introduced new bread and pastry styles typical of their regions of origin. The company has also become a wholesale producer of the popular pasteis de nata (custard tarts), supplying grocery stores and other food vendors in Ontario and Quebec.
Hora dos Portugueses
Short description: Custard Tart (Pastel de Nata)
Materials: Puff pastry filled with custard made of cream, egg yolks, sugar, flour, and lemon zest, sprinkled with cinnamon powder
Dimensions: Diameter 7 cm x Height 3.5 cm
Creator: Nova Era
Place of origin: Toronto (Lisbon)
Description: Custard tart made at one of Toronto’s Nova Era bakeries and topped with cinnamon powder. Custard tarts (or “natas”) are arguably one of the most well-known and appreciated Portuguese foods in Canada and around the world.