Joel Fink can. The candymaker and self-avowed chocolate addict, owner of Lyndhurst's Fantasy Candies (5456 Mayfield Road, 440-461-4511), has been on a three-year quest to find a bittersweet chocolate as mellow and voluptuous as its milk-chocolate counterparts.
After trying and discarding all the most popular brands, he finally stumbled across a keeper: an American-made, European-style dark chocolate boasting a whopping 72-percent measure of antioxidant-rich cocoa solids. Then he set to work blending it with almonds, blueberries, cranberries, orange peel, candied ginger, cashews, and more. The result -- a line of 14 fruit-and-nut-filled barks, bursting with intense yet well-tempered goodness -- may not be exactly health food, but it sure tastes swell. For best results, Fink prescribes taking each dose with a glass of Grand Marnier.
At $19.95 per pound, the ultra-dark chocolates join Fink's other freshly made confections, including chocolate-covered potato chips and cashew-butter crunch. (And at Easter, look for chocolate-covered peeps.) Store hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday. Visit www.fantasycandies.com.
Pastabilities . . . Gateway's Sport & Ale House won't launch in time for the home opener. According to owner Jon Levoy, the ambitious undertaking in and around the former New York Spaghetti House keeps getting bigger; now, a summer opening seems more likely. Complete with pool tables, dartboards, DJs, a VIP room, and an outdoor concert stage, the venue will feature 20 beers on draft and a moderately priced menu of American fare, including the Spaghetti House's famous "brown sauce." Levoy just wishes old-timers would stop griping about changes to the 80-year-old landmark. "It had a good run," he says. "Now let's have a little fun."
New old place . . . Longtime Bainbridge restaurateur Michael Longo reopened his former Firefly Seafood & Steak (16725 Chillicothe Road) on February 1 with a new name (ML the Restaurant), a new concept (elegantly upscale), and a new chef-driven menu featuring seasonal, sustainable ingredients. "It's not an in-and-out place anymore," he promises. "It's a dining experience." Dinner is served Monday through Saturday; call 440-543-6567 for reservations.