Another one bites the torta 

East Bay food-biz gossip à la carte.

First, the bad news: Mazzini Trattoria, one of the East Bay's most noted -- and most romantic -- Italian restaurants, closed up shop on Monday, March 25. Sources in the restaurant industry say that business never picked up after September 11, and turnover in the kitchen was high since chef Dija Amer left last year. Owner Jim Maser says that he is refocusing his energies on opening two new branches of his popular Picante Cucina Mexicana later this summer, one in Alameda's South Shore Shopping Center and another in downtown Oakland. No word yet on what will happen to the South Berkeley space.

Eat ice cream and lose weight: On April 22, Ben and Jerry's is kicking off "One Sweet World," an initiative to fight global warming with free ice cream cones. Teaming up with strange bedfellows Saveourenvironment.org (an awareness and advocacy Web site) and the Dave Matthews Band (because rock stars are our planet's only hope), Ben & Jerry's will offer a new ice cream flavor whose proceeds will benefit anti-global-warming campaigns. One Sweet Whirled swirls together caramel and coffee ice creams, caramel, marshmallows, and coffee-fudge chips. To do your part on April 22, all you have to do is drive to the Berkeley store at 2130 Oxford, fill out some little form pledging to reduce your CO2 emissions by 2,000 pounds, and then you get a free ice cream cone. Here's a tip: If you eat it in the car with the air conditioning on, the ice cream won't melt quite as quickly.

Drink wine and feed the arts: Another upcoming do-gooder activity with a caloric payoff is the "Wine and Food Classic," which will be held at the Lafayette Park Hotel on Sunday, May 5, starting at 1:00 p.m. Contra Costa's California Symphony is sponsoring -- and benefiting from -- this annual wine tasting and live auction. Sip wines from Grgich Hills, Jordan, and Ferrari-Carano while you nibble bits from such A-list restaurants as Prima, Left Bank, Massimo, and the Lark Creek Inn. The eminent Narsai David emcees the event, while wine auctioneer David Reynolds will tempt patrons to spend the big bucks on vintages and other gastronomic splurges. Tickets are $75; an extra $75 will get you into the prix-fixe dinner with David at the hotel's restaurant afterward. For more information, contact the symphony at (925) 280-2490 or info@californiasymphony.org.

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