4 minute read

You Gotta Eat Here!

By Martine Mackenzie

Four Brothers Cucina Restaurant has been a Niagara Falls institution since 1964. Giacinto and Laura Marinelli along with their four sons established the Four Brothers Restaurant that year. They brought with them from Italy, their traditions, old-world recipes and techniques and introduced them to their new community of Niagara. “When Four Brothers was established, it became part of the ‘Big Three’ Italian restaurants here in Niagara,” said Christine Smylski, Front of House Manager. “There was us, the Capri and Casa d’Oro. We are the only ones left.” Christine is a true testament to what a great establishment Four Brothers is. She’s been there for 16 years! “My parents had their first date here long ago, and just kept coming back. I grew up on this food!”

In 2014, the next generation of the Marinelli family rebranded the Four Brothers Restaurant to Four Brothers Cucina. The goal was to stay up to date with current dining trends but continue to prepare Italian cuisine with the same recipes and dedication as generations before.

Michael Marinelli, the son of one of the original four brothers, Ugo, is now at the helm of this Niagara landmark. He’s grown up in the restaurant and was a busser while his late mother Michelle was in the kitchen with her friends, Mabel and Mary. “These women came together every day, cooked together, talked – a real family atmosphere – you could actually taste the love in Michelle’s sauce,” Christine reminisces. Under Michael’s leadership, the quality of the food has remained the same. “Same recipes, same sauce, same higher-grade ingredients imported from Italy,” adds Christine. “Almost everything that comes out of our kitchen is made in-house. We have a great team and great chef who make all of the pasta, our famous Mezzaluna (housemade ravioli, short-rib and ricotta stuffing in a brown butter sage sauce), gnocchi, lasagna…”

Four Brothers Cucina isn’t just buzzing during the summer months with tourists looking for something other than a chain restaurant. It’s buzzing all year long, filled with locals from the Niagara Region, and of course, the biggest critics of Italian food, the Italians themselves. “We cater to tourists during the season, but locals are still our staple,” says Christine. “We have regular customers that we see once a week that have been coming for years. That’s a testament to just how good our food is. We have people come in to buy litres of our salad dressing and tomato sauce because they want to bring the flavors home.”

Christine goes on to explain just how steeped in tradition this restaurant is. “The Marinelli family is so great to work for! After our shifts, we all sit down to eat together – we are all treated like family, and we are hoping that the tradition of this place continues to be passed down through the generations.”

This writer is Italian, and Nonny-trained in the kitchen. I know my food! I can attest to the fact that the menu at Four Brothers is as authentic and true to taste. Although limited to traditional great dishes, it’s easy to see why everything tastes so good – the focus is on what they do well here, using the freshest and best quality ingredients.

“You know good food – and when an Italian says our food is good, then it is,” smiles Christine.

When asked what her favorite dish on the menu is, Christine doesn’t hesitate. “The gnocchi! It’s the gnocchi! It’s so pillowy and light and pairs so well with the sauce!” fourbrotherscucina.com