The New Year brings new dining opportunities to Newport Beach. Two high profile restaurants – Red O and Fig & Olive – just opened in Fashion Island, while two more – The Winery and Provenance – open in February. Others arrive later in the year, further proving that Newport Beach has become an important part of OC’s dining scene.
A sad note: One of our favorite restaurants, Brasserie Pascal in Fashion Island, has closed. It was our go-to place for stylish and affordable French cuisine. At least Pascal still has his Pascal Epicerie and his Café Jardin in Sherman Gardens. We hear he’s working on a new concept, so we look forward to see what Pascal has in store in 2014.
THE WINERY RESTAURANT
We’ve been dining at The Winery’s flagship Tustin location to sample the cuisine in anticipation of the new Coast Highway restaurant opening, and have loved everything we’ve tried.
We won’t have to wait much longer to enjoy the Newport restaurant. Co-owner JC Clow tells us they’re planning to open just before Valentine’s Day, a little over 10 months after purchasing the old Villa Nova restaurant, where The Winery will soon stand.
“We dismantled the old building from the ground up,” Clow told us last week. “We spent a long time on the demo process, it was more extensive than we expected. We’re in a liquefaction zone, so we had several issues to deal with, but the last three months have all been construction.”
Clow said the menu created by Chef Yvon Goetz will be similar to what they have in Tustin, although he suggests that “we may scale it back a little when we first open so we can properly service our guests and make the dining experience a wow factor. The core menu will be the same, with lots of wild game but more seafood.”
The Winery is renowned for its impressive wine list (650 different options), which sommelier William Lewis has been building since The Winery opened nearly six years ago. Clow said the Newport location will start with about 500 wines on its list, all housed in a glass-enclosed wine cellar. There will also be 105 wine lockers available to frequent diners.
“The wine lockers are all enclosed in glass. I saw a mock up—it’s breathtaking,” said Clow. “Our outdoor patio on the second floor is also breathtaking. We’ll have two fireplaces, and a cigar patio overlooking the marina.”
The Winery has garnered numerous accolades over the years. The most recent is Restaurant of the Year from the OC Concierge Association, the third time in six years they’ve won the award. We have no doubt the accolades will continue once the Newport location opens.
For more information, visit TheWineryRestaurant.net.
Chef Cathy Pavlos, a longtime resident of Corona del Mar, has been creating extraordinary Mediterranean cuisine at her Irvine restaurant, Lucca.
Soon, Chef Pavlos will be splitting her time between Lucca and her new restaurant, Provenance, a California cuisine restaurant located where Sage Restaurant used to be in Eastbluff.
“We’re working frantically so we can open in February,” Chef Pavlos told us last week. “The design elements are coming together, the menu is done. It’s what I call ‘garden
centric.’ We’ll have our own garden there, and focus on pickling, caning, smoking, curing—things you would normally see in a farm kitchen.”
Chef Pavlos told us the kitchen is larger than the one at Lucca, and will have a chef’s table for eight diners to enjoy an exceptional culinary experience.
Among the new menu items: diver scallops smoked over hickory wood and then seared.
“That’s our signature items,” said Chef Pavlos. “We’ll also have smoked duck breast, and we’ll be grinding our own pork.”
“For lunch we’ll have a signature spa item, such as a fish of the day with garden vegetables and quinoa, prepared simply like in a world class spa,” she added. “Signature dinner options will always be a large plate, such as a porterhouse steak for two or a whole fish, carved and served tableside.”
The Provenance managers will all be sommeliers, and the wine list, which focuses on domestic labels, will be deeper than the one at Lucca. They’ll also have vintage cocktails, some of which date back to the 19th century, and they’ll be infusing their own spirits.
“We want to be a neighborhood restaurant,” said Chef Pavlos. “Whether you come in and spend $10 or $100, we want you to feel like you’re at home.”
For more info on Chef Pavlos and her restaurants, visit LuccaCafe.com.
MORE NEW RESTAURANTS
We’ve been to Red O in Fashion Island for cocktails and for lunch (the trio of tacos is delicious), and so far have been impressed with the décor and the menu.
“I have a new favorite place to frequent for chips and salsa, and margaritas,” noted Catherine after her first visit. “Red O’s tortilla chips come out warm and lightly salted and are not only tasty but also gluten-free. You can choose from a selection of guacamole or stick with their green and red salsas.”
We attended the VIP reception for Fig & Olive, and while the event gave us a chance to explore the gorgeous interior, we didn’t get to sample the cuisine. Even so, Catherine is ready to dine next to the four-sided fireplace in the lounge when we do go back to try the food.
Also coming up in 2014: Sweet Lady Jane bakery arrives in Corona del Mar this spring, and Cucina Enoteca opens a Fashion Island location this summer.