Off the Menu: A New Year Brings New Restaurants to Newport Beach

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Sapori owner and chef Sal Maniaci
Sapori owner and chef Sal Maniaci

By Christopher Trela & Catherine Del Casale.

A new year brings new restaurants to Newport Beach. Several opened last month, more are set to open by the end of January. Here are the ones that get our taste buds excited.

Sapori Pizza

Sapori Restaurant on Bayside Drive is a charming, classy neighborhood restaurant—if your neighborhood includes all of Newport Beach. For more than 25 years, locals have been packing the place every night to savor the authentic dishes served by a friendly and knowledgeable staff.

Last year, a retail space next to Sapori became available, so Sapori owner and chef Sal Maniaci snapped it up to create a separate pizzeria serving Neapolitan-style pizzas.

He ordered a wood-burning oven from Naples, Italy, and started remodeling the space.

Pizzeria Sapori is scheduled to open by the end of January.

“We’ll have an open kitchen, we’re breaking down the wall near the bar so we’ll wrap the bar around from Sapori to the new restaurant,” explained Maniaci. “The interior will have stone walls, glazed brick, pizza counter, banquette, archways in stone. It will look very rustic and Tuscan, like a building that is 200 years old—that’s the feeling we’re shooting for.”

The menu will include a variety of pizzas with either red sauce (pizze rosse) or white with no sauce (pizze bianchi).  Gluten free options will be available. The bar will feature a variety of draft beers.

We dined at Sapori a few days ago and were reminded how good the food is, which whetted our appetite for Pizzeria Sapori.

To see a sample menu and get a few more details, visit the website:


Chef Kent and a Blaze pizza
Chef Kent and a Blaze pizza

Blaze Pizza

Chef Bradford Kent is obsessed with dough. Of course, when you own two successful gourmet pizza restaurants in Los Angeles, the dough takes center stage. In fact, it’s his dough that brought him to Blaze Pizza, one of the more popular custom pizza franchises around.

A Blaze Pizza opened last month in Fashion Island next to Island Cinema, so of course we had to go sample the menu, which is succinct (pizza, salad, dessert) yet offers endless options due to the variety of toppings and sauces. The pizzas, which cook in an 800 degree open for three minutes, are $7.99 each.

We also chatted with Chef Kent about – what else – dough.

Turns out Chef Kent spent five years perfecting his dough recipe. Instead of using an existing recipe, he decided toblaze pizza create his own, although he went around sampling pizzas to see what styles appealed to him.

“I ate a lot of pizza,” he admitted. ”It was difficult to find one that was light and airy, had lots of flavor, had the crispness of a good baguette, the chewiness of New York pizza, and the quick baking attributes of Neapolitan pizza. I played with all the variables—what kind of flour, olive oil, salt, even what kind of fermentation. It took years of development to get the dough to where I liked it.”

With Blaze Pizza, Chef Kent wanted to keep the ingredients simple yet offer plenty of options including sauces and drizzles.

“I love the personalization that comes with building your own pizza,” said Catherine. “There are so many default settings you can move towards when choosing your pizza toppings. ‘Meatzza’ has meats all piled into one pizza, or there’s the ‘Veggie’ for the healthy alternative. I like adding bacon, salami and pepperoni along with mushrooms, minced garlic and a pesto and bbq sauce drizzle for some extra oomph. You won’t get bored building your own preferences and it doesn’t cost more if you want more toppings than your friends.”



Tea service at W Cafe
Tea service at W Cafe

W Café and Tea Lounge

Wais Omar spent many years working at the Balboa Bay Resort and Club, the last few as manager of the Club’s restaurant.

He’s transferred that experience to his latest venture: W Café and Tea Lounge at 1703 Westcliff Dr., which can seat 60 indoors and another two dozen on the patio

W has been open about a month and has already found a following, mostly via word of mouth. The café is open for breakfast and lunch, and afternoon high tea service. They serve a variety of breakfast items (from salmon benedict to low carb omelets) and sandwiches, with prices ranging from $7 to $12.

And then there is tea—some 30 different varieties, from basic Earl Gray to more exotic flavors like chocolate peppermint.

Christopher visited W recently and loved his chicken and spinach Panini ($9), but was most impressed with the tea presentation. His Earl Gray came out in a simple yet classy white pot with matching cup and saucer, along with a special sand timer that, when turned over, had three different time options depending on how strong you want your tea. When sand in the first one ran out, three minutes passed. The middle one contained four minutes of sand, the last five minutes.

We plan to return for breakfast, and also for high tea, so look for more details on W soon.

For more information, call (949) 873-5242.

Waffle Affair

Seems like waffles are the latest food craze (after build-your-own-pizza), so it’s not surprising that a waffle restaurant opened in Newport Beach.

The Waffle Affair opened last month in Bayside Center. According to their press material, The Waffle Affair is “a sophisticated 1,350 square-foot café and coffee bar serving up a modern take on the authentic Liége and Belgian-style waffles with all wholesome ingredients mixed into the batter–no toppings required.”

The menu offers nearly two dozen options, from savory selections to sweet treats like red velvet with cream cheese frosting, which Christopher enjoyed during his initial visit to Waffle Affair last week. They also have a full service coffee bar and a variety of teas.

We’ll be visiting Waffle Affair soon to sample more of the menu.



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