Dolce Sí, the Sicilian bakery at Point Ruston, has been winning over the neighborhood since it opened its doors last fall, alluring residents of the nearby condos with the smell of cappuccinos and freshly baked torciglioni and bringing in customers from all over the city. With a seemingly endless variety of pastries and rich, creamy gelato, Dolce Sí is worth a visit if you’re walking past on the beautiful waterfront path or on the other side of town craving some authentic Italian flavor.
In fact, people come from much farther away than Tacoma to eat at Dolce Sí, but that’s because it has become much more than a café. The pastries, the coffee, the cakes — everything made here is traditional Sicilian, proudly crafted and authenticated by owner Elisabetta O’Shea, who moved to Washington from her homeland 13 years ago with her husband (and Dolce Sí co-owner), Steve. When Elisabetta opened Dolce Sí, she wanted to provide more than just amazing food — she wanted to provide a real taste of her culture.
It’s noticeable in the authentic décor and attention to detail that is infused into every item on the café’s menu — pastries are dusted with powdered sugar, gelato is topped with an edible arrangement of berries, chocolate, or whatever the flavor may be, and the cakes are truly pieces of glistening art.
Food is an important part of Sicilian culture, but Elisabetta wanted to provide more than that to her guests. She knew how hard it was when she first moved here to find a community of people that she could relate to, speak Italian with, and feel at home around. That’s why she decided to make Dolce Sí a local hub of Italian culture and started hosting monthly gatherings.
The first Saturday of every month, Dolce Sí holds an informal Italian gathering, open to all. Italians who have lived in the area for years, those of Italian heritage who haven’t had a good cannoli outside their nonna’s kitchen, people who lived in Italy for a while years ago or even just traveled through when they were in college — all these people and more flock together to revel in one another’s company, the beautiful sound of fluent Italian, and — of course — amazing food and drinks.
These meetings are a boon to those Italians living in the area who, like Elisabetta, had been dearly missing their culture and struggling to recreate some semblance of it. One frequent visitor to the Saturday gatherings, Vanessa Young, told Elisabetta after the first meeting, “Grazie per farci sentire a casa lontano da casa,” which she translates as, “Thank you for making us feel at home away from home.” Just hearing the sounds of her native land, being surrounded by regional art, and smelling and tasting the authentic taste of Italy was, in her words, “therapeutic — for the palate and the soul.”
Elisabetta agrees and couldn’t be happier. “After 13 years of searching for other paesani,” she says, using the Italian word for countrymen, “finally my bakery has its purpose: one destination where everyone can meet and enjoy a cup of coffee and a nice chat in our native speech.”
In addition to providing a nostalgic refuge for immigrants who have been missing Italy since they moved to the US, Elisabetta also wants her café to be a place where second and third generation Italians can come and experience the authentic culture that they never knew. Because while her specialty is delicious pastries and desserts, her real gift to the South Sound area is the cultural community she is creating.
“I hope this will help Italians to come out and make friends with other Italians,” she says.
So whether you were born in Italy, have Italian ancestors, or just love to experience another culture — with all its flavorful sweet and savory delicacies — be sure to stop into Dolce Sí at Point Ruston any day of the week — and mark the first Saturday of every month on your calendar. A warm benvenuti and a hot cappuccino await.
Dolce Si’s monthly Saturday meets start at 10:00 a.m. For more information, visit Dolce Sí online.