Candies, Cookies and Cuban CuisineBEFORE TONY DOUMITT JOINED HIS PARENTS' RETAIL SHOE BUSINESS, HE WORKED AT RESTAURANTS—cooking, bar tending and managing a Chevys in San Leandro. He was therefore well qualified not only to manage Fudgelato (2353 Santa Clara Ave., 510-748-9697) but also to make the fudge ($11.95 a pound) when his folks, Robert and Shirley Doumitt, decided to transform storage space adjoining their eponymous shoe shop into a fudge, candy and gelato store. It was mom Shirley’s idea to line the shelves with glass apothecary jars, giving the pristine, modern place a delightfully old-time feel. The jars are filled with a kaleidoscope of colorful candies that range from top-of-the-line silver-coated Amorini hearts ($29.95 a pound) to a fantastical range of gummi treats including worms, bears and more options than we thought existed ($4.95 a pound). Cookies look like they’ve been chosen for their decorative appeal. Doumitt buys his all-natural-ingredient, Italian-style ice cream from Gelato Classico in Concord (priced from $2.85 for a small cup). Italian music adds to the ambience. Looks like the shoes the Doumitts sell are made for walking—right into the candy store.
SINCE AUGUST 2002 THE WALNUT CREEK BRANCH OF THE DOWNTOWN CUBAN-THEMED restaurant Havana (1516 Bonanza St., 925-939-4555) has attracted the young and the hip with its extensive mojito cocktail menu ($6 and up) as well as with its food. When you have a winning formula, why change it? That is what owner Zachary Scott thought when he decided to open a second Havana in Alameda at the former location of Emerald Garden (1518 Park St., 510-521-0130). He offers the same food selection with such proven favorites as his Cuban sandwich ($9 on the tapas menu), ropa vieja (a shredded beef dish served with black beans and sofrito rice; $16 on the entree menu) and mango gazpacho ($5) among other soups. These days there’s no need to leave our Island to enjoy exotic island options.