Where there’s a market, there’s a way — or so it seems when it comes to the rise of gourmet gluten-free food products in the East Bay. The past two years alone have seen the arrival of amazingly crisp-battered gluten-free fried chicken, a panoply of gluten-free pastas and pizza crusts, and gluten-free bagels that were so good I immediately declared them the best gluten-free bread I’d ever eaten.
Now, Bacano Bakery, whose breads and pastries are a fixture at a handful of local farmers’ markets, is poised to open a gluten-free brick-and-mortar bakery and cafe in Emeryville, at 1298 65th Street. Once it opens, Bacano will be at least the third dedicated gluten-free retail bakery in the East Bay, joining Temescal stalwart Mariposa Baking Company and the Danville-based Miglet’s.
- Bacano Bakery
“The gluten-free thing for us is, ‘Oh by the way,’ as opposed to the centerpiece,” said LaLonde, who doesn’t have a gluten allergy himself, though he said he has mostly eliminated wheat gluten from his diet. The idea was to create baked treats that anyone would enjoy, with none of the stigma of “Mommy’s weird bread or Tommy’s icky cookies” that typically gets associated with gluten-free baked goods.
According to LaLonde, there are certain products in Bacano’s repertoire that are meant to serve as stand-ins for traditional wheat-based baked goods. Their cinnamon bread, for instance, is designed to fool you — to make the texture and taste close enough to the “real” thing that most customers shouldn’t be able to tell the difference. On the other hand, Bacano also sells a vegan seeded bread, made with no refined sugars or xanthan gum, that stands on its own merits. “We’re not trying to make it like anything else,” LaLonde said.
- Bacano Bakery
- The former Cafe Aquarius space
The Emeryville location is the former home of Cafe Aquarius, a popular bakery cafe that closed in January after the owner of the building decided not to extend the restaurant’s lease. According to LaLonde, Bacano is slated to softly open in mid- to late-August.