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Cold Comfort

That's a lotta gelato.

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If you haven't yet indulged in a scoop of freshly made Italian gelato, don't blame restaurateurs Valerio Iorio or Al Cefaretti: Thanks to them, gelaterias are popping up all over.

Iorio, owner of Valerio's in Little Italy and Cefaretti's partner in the intimate Osteria de Valerio and Al, in the Warehouse District, opened the region's first La Gelateria in Cleveland Heights two years ago. This summer, he launched a second location in Lyndhurst's Legacy Village, and now there is a third -- the first of a planned statewide network of franchises -- in Chagrin Falls, just off Main Street in the former Baskin-Robbins space. Meantime, Cefaretti recently opened Al's Gelateria in Macedonia (9828 Valley View Road, in the former Subway location), where he'll be serving 16 flavors of gelato, 12 sorbets, and espresso from 1 p.m. to 10 p.m. daily. He plans to expand into Fairlawn and Cuyahoga Falls, too.

Bridging the gap . . . Speaking of Italian food, Marco Rossi has left his little ristorante, Aroma, in Avon Lake, to launch a new spot on the old Superior Viaduct. Ponte Vecchio, or "old bridge," is scheduled to open around the end of the month, with 75 seats, a fabulous view, and executive chef Fabio Danzo, who arrives here straight from Florence. Dinner reservations can be made at 216-556-4025.

As for Aroma, Rossi sold his interest in the spot to his chef and partner Mario Marotta. The two parted on good terms. "It was just too tight a space for two of us," Rossi says philosophically. "One of us had to go -- and that was me."

"Bad news and better news" . . . is how chef and would-be restaurateur Patrick McNamara sums up his recent falling-out with his former bosses at the Hyde Park Restaurant Group. McNamara, former chef at Blake's Seafood Grill in Chagrin Falls, was planning to lease the old Sal & Angelo's location on Coventry from HPG for his own restaurant, Noble Fare. But the two parties couldn't see eye to eye on the lease agreement. Joe Saccone of HPG confirms that the property is back on the market. Still, McNamara vows he hasn't given up. "We're looking at new East Side locations right now," he says. "I've learned a lot. It's been a big learning curve."

Smokin' . . . Add Johnny Mango (3120 Bridge Avenue) to the growing list of restaurants that have voluntarily banned all smoking. The nonsmoking policy goes into effect August 16. The sassy Caribbean/ Asian/veggie-friendly spot joins Tommy's, The Diner on Clifton, Fat Cats, and Great Lakes Brewing Company in prohibiting guests from lighting up.

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