TNT Diner

Gelato cafe and scratch bakery now open in Tacoma’s Proctor neighborhood

A single scoop of pink guava sorbetto, which is dairy free, from Alegre Bakery and Gelato in the Proctor neighborhood.
A single scoop of pink guava sorbetto, which is dairy free, from Alegre Bakery and Gelato in the Proctor neighborhood.

I can think of only one thing better than gelato, the creamy Italian frozen dessert.

And that’s a gelato sandwich built on cookies made by the former pastry chef of Marrow.

Those gelato-cookie sandwiches will be on the menu at some point at Alegre Bakery and Gelato. The cafe opened Saturday in Tacoma’s Proctor neighborhood.

Currently, there are about a dozen flavors of gelato and sorbetto, drop cookies, coffee cake and “brookies” (a combination brownie-cookie) on the menu, but options will expand soon.

It’s a from-scratch establishment where gelato and baked goods are made on site.

The gelato comes from Taraya and Ali Ataman, who opened their Canarino Gelato in Edmonds in 2012.

The baked goods come from Ashley Baird, who used to bake at Tacoma’s Marrow and studied pastry arts at the Western Culinary Institute.

The Atamans began eying Tacoma for an expansion a few years ago.

They were attracted to the Proctor neighborhood. Like Edmonds, the Proctor area is “a cozy, small community,” Taraya said.

She and her husband learned the business from Ali’s uncle and aunt, who operate Fainting Goat Gelato, a Seattle gelateria with two locations.

Here’s a first-bite look at Alegre. It’s this paper’s policy to avoid criticism of food and service in a restaurant’s first month.

Dining room: Industrial meets rustic with concrete softened by layers of wood climbing the walls. Find bench seating at the front entry. High-top tables, each with seating for two, flank the open kitchen. In all, there are 23 seats.

Coffee: Full espresso menu with beans from Caffe Vita. Be sure to try the Turkish coffee ($2.99). There’s also affogato, which is the best invention ever for coffee lovers. It’s espresso poured over your choice of gelato ($5.49).

In the bakery case: A decadent brown-butter cookie laden with oversized chocolate chips and a sprinkle of salt ($1.75). A snappy shortbread infused with maple and topped with a toasted pecan ($1.75). A “brookie,” which is a cookie-brownie hybrid and a must order ($2.25). Also find quiche and coffee cake.

Baked goods coming soon: Fresh-baked pretzels, scones, croissants, baked-to-order molten cakes. Also, savory snacks, including cheese plates and hummus-vegetable plates.

Dairy free? You bet. Three dairy-free sorbettos on my visit.

Gelato and sorbetto pricing: $3.89, 1 scoop; $4.89, 2 scoops; $5.89, 3 scoops. To-go orders can be packed in 8-ounce containers ($5.49) or 16-ounce ($8.75). Want a waffle cone? They’ve got that for 99 cents.

Gelato on now: espresso, chocolate, vanilla, Heath bar, stracciatella, lemon shortbread, pistachio, whiskey cream.

Sorbetto on now: dark chocolate, pink guava, lemon.

Coming soon: About 18 gelatos total will be scooped when the cafe is at full production. New flavors coming include salted caramel, tiramisu and biscotti.

Date night potential: To pair with those snack platters is a lengthy list of beer and wine. Find local micro beers, including Broken Window IPA from Tacoma Brewing Co. and a pilsner from 7 Seas Brewing.

Hours: For now, 6 a.m. to midnight weekends and 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. weekdays.

The opening follows the debut of Top Pot, a long-awaited doughnut bakery that operates nearby. Top Pot opened last week. Opening later this year in Proctor will be Waffle Stop.

Alegre Bakery and Gelato

Where: 3820 N. 27th St., Tacoma;