Creating fine chocolates requires dedication, passion and perfect timing. At Romolo Chocolates, these qualities span four generations beginning in 1906 when a teenage Romolo Stefanelli emigrated from Italy to New York City to apprentice in the Big Apple’s top candy factories, including Bunn and Loft’s, and later, in Chicago, Tootsie Roll and Brachs.
In 1926, Romolo continued to develop and refine the art of confections, starting his own business with his wife Elizabeth in Erie, Pa. As their reputation as candy makers grew, so did the demand for their hand-made array of chocolate-draped crèmes and caramels, nut-infused barks, solid chocolates and hard candy.
After being raised as a young child in his family’s candy shop, Tony Stefanelli apprenticed under his grandfather Romolo, his father Tony Sr., and his uncle Art for nearly 20 years. In 1994, Tony opened Romolo Chocolates in Erie, where today, joined by his sons and fourth-generation chocolatiers Anthony and Roman Stefanelli, Grandpa Romolo’s artisanal craft thrives and evolves to meet customers’ increasingly diverse and sophisticated tastes. In 2004, Tony was named one of only 26 master confectioners in the U.S.
Today, Romolo Chocolates is a must-stop destination for Erie natives and visitors alike, including celebrities and entertainers traveling through the region. Just off the northern-most point of Interstate 79 where it meets Lake Erie (and close to Presque Isle State Park), the 27,000-square-foot destination spot includes not only the chocolate shop, but also Mercato, a gift shop, the Cocoa Cafe and a beautiful outdoor piazza. The cafe offers cookies and desserts unique to Romolo Chocolates and made from scratch by Tony’s wife and pastry chef Jennie Stefanelli. The Cocoa Cafe offers barista-style espresso, coffee, tea, signature hot chocolate and decadent Romolo ice creams.