A trio of cannoli from the newly opened Dolce Si in the Point Ruston development. Sue Kidd skidd@thenewstribune.com
A trio of cannoli from the newly opened Dolce Si in the Point Ruston development. Sue Kidd skidd@thenewstribune.com

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Now open: Italian bakery and gelateria Dolce Si on the edge of Tacoma

November 17, 2015 06:00 AM

UPDATED November 27, 2015 09:18 AM

Three choices of cannoli.

Let that sink in for a moment.

That’s an offering for which many Tacoma pastry hounds have dutifully waited.

And now it’s available at the edge of Tacoma.

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Dolce Si, a Sicilian-style bakery and gelateria, opened Monday at Point Ruston, the development that spans Tacoma and Ruston, just off Ruston Way.

A first-bite look found a pastry case laden with pastries, including the trio of cannoli choices, another bakery case brimming with cookies and a gelato case displaying 11 styles of the creamy frozen Italian dessert. There were also cut slices of tiramisu, individual fruit tarts and espresso service.

Because the bakery is in its first week of business, expect pastry stock will fluctuate. And expect the crowds to flock.

It’s this paper’s policy to avoid criticism of food and service during a restaurant’s first month of business, which is why I’m focusing on atmosphere, the offerings and the family behind the bakery.

That family is Steve and Elisabetta O’Shea. The two met while Steve was stationed in Italy while serving in the Navy. Elisabetta was born and raised in Sicily. They married and moved to the area in 2003 and now live in Graham.

In 2007, Elisabetta graduated from the culinary arts program at South Seattle Community College and set her sights on opening a bakery. That dream was delayed when Steve was deployed for back-to-back assignments to Iraq and Afghanistan. Meanwhile, Elisabetta stayed home with the children.

Elisabetta said she modeled her bakery after the sort of place she grew up visiting in Sicily. The walls were a wash of vibrant golds and saturated reds. Display shelving held striking Italian ceramics for sale. The same swirls of bold ceramic colors were carried to the tabletops, which were handmade by family friends, Fabio and Alessandra Tangorra, from Caltagirone, Italy. Two- and four-seat tables lined the perimeter of the bakery.

The gelato flavors, all made in house, included forest berry topped with fresh blackberries and a swirl of deep purple syrup. A tray of vivid pink pomegranate gelato was similarly dressed, and a creamy pink strawberry was dotted with fresh sliced strawberries. Torrone and tiramisu were flanked by a creamy-looking orange, a hazelnut and coffee, each topped with a sprinkle of cocoa, nuts or a drizzle of chocolate. Gianduiotto, a Piedmontese chocolate flavor, and stracciatella, flecked with chocolate, were also offered.

In all, about 10 kinds of pastries filled the main case. I spotted three kinds of brioche, one topped with a fan of sugar-glazed sliced peaches and another with chocolate chips. Soft, golf-ball sized pastries were cream filled and topped with a coffee or pistachio glaze, and tasted similar to a cream puff. Powdered sugar decorated a tray of dome-shaped buns. Cannoli, cookie-like tubes filled with cream, came with a choice of chocolate or pastry cream, both coated with chopped nuts; and a ricotta filled-cannoli carried a coating of chopped pistachios.

The cookie case offered chocolate-dipped and sugar-coated cookies alongside tarts laden with fresh kiwi and strawberries. Another tart towered with chocolate custard and whipped cream.

Espresso service included hot and blended coffee drinks, but also something quintessentially Italian – affogato, a merger of coffee and gelato.

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Expect to see the pastry offerings increase with time. A preview menu from the O’Sheas listed pignolata, bigne, profiteroles, cigni, panettone and cannoncini, as well as gelato cakes and other Italian frozen desserts. They also offer Italian beer, wine and spirits, and Italian sodas.

Dolce Si Sicilian Bakery and Cafe

Where: 5005 Main St., Ruston; 253-678-1229; dolcesi.com