Garlicky guy: The restaurant empire owned by Santa Rosa chef Guy Fieri, of "Diners, Drive-ins and Dives" fame, is expanding. Fieri just opened a new Johnny Garlic's in Brentwood. If you've been to the Johnnys in Dublin or San Jose, then you already know about Fieri's penchant for eclectic flavor collisions -- Sashimi Won Tacos, for example, and Cajun Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo -- and the rotating menu of exotic game entrees, including alligator, wild boar and rattlesnake (which may or may not taste like chicken). They offer burgers, salads and other family-pleasing fare, too, of course. The new place is open from 4:30 p.m. to midnight Mondays through Thursdays, and 11:30 a.m. to midnight Fridays through Sundays at 2505 Sand Creek Road in the Streets of Brentwood shopping center. Details: www.johnnygarlics.com.
Creme de la creme: There's a new personal shopper at Valley Fair in Santa Clara. But instead of scouring the mall for gifts, Michael Freeman travels the world to find the highest-quality chocolate creations. His CocoaBella Chocolates, which first opened on San Francisco's Union Street in 2004, finally has expanded outside the city. This chic shop features lines of chocolates from 18 of the world's finest chocolatiers, including the top names in Belgium, France, Italy and Switzerland. These artisans release spring and fall collections, just as fashion designers do, and their sophisticated sweets wing their way to the Bay Area on temperature-controlled flights. Look for such sublime bites as Thomas Haas' Jamaican Rum Truffle, Michel Cluizel's Champignon Bolet (a "mushroom" with a crunchy almond praline cap), Christopher Elbow's Bananas Foster, and Maglio's Date, Italian-grown dates stuffed with pistachio paste and almond cream. Details: Open daily on Level One, Valley Fair. 408-246-1633; www.cocoabella.com.
Expansion mode: The owners of Half Moon Bay's popular Sam's Chowder House and ChowderMobiles have opened a second bricks-and-mortar version in Palo Alto, at the University Avenue and Emerson Street site that formerly housed Campo 185, Lavanda and, for many years, the Good Earth. Look for the signature chowder, along with lobster rolls, fresh fish entrees, and house-cured sardines and salmon carpaccio. 185 University Ave. 650-614-1177; www.samschowderhousepa.com. Ike's Sandwiches is now slicing Dutch crunch rolls in downtown San Jose for its sauce-enhanced combos with the wild names. Look for the best-selling Menage a Trois (chicken, BBQ sauce, honey mustard, honey, and three cheeses -- cheddar, Swiss and pepper Jack), along with the Patrick Marleau, the Jaymee Sire(wich), the Steve Jobs and dozens more. Details: 75 E. Santa Clara St., near Second Street.
Tapas in Livermore: Longtime catering chef Eduardo Posada has just opened a new bricks-and-mortar restaurant in Livermore. Don't be put off by the strip mall exterior -- although if you need a tattoo, we hear there's an ink parlor nearby. The cozy new Posada gives the Spanish small plates theme a Southwestern twist with tapas and small entrees such as tilapia ceviche ($9) with a red chile jicama salad, barbecued duck and blue corn cakes ($9), and short ribs with blackberry mole poblano ($16), all paired with Livermore Valley wines. Open for lunch and dinner Tuesdays through Saturdays, and for brunch on Sundays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Details: 988 Murrieta Blvd., Livermore; www.posadacatering.com/restaurant.
Berkeley bistro: A while back, we mentioned that Jason Kwon, of Joshu-Ya fame, was working on a new project on Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley. The fast-casual Bleecker Street Bistro just opened with a counter-service menu of classic American comfort food -- buttermilk fried chicken, meatloaf sandwiches and fish tacos, as well as breakfasty fare. Open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily at 2498 Telegraph Ave., just up the street from Joshu-Ya; www.bleeckerbistro.com.