Off the Menu: Newport Restaurants Lauded at Golden Foodie Awards

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William Lewis of The Winery Restaurant accepts the award for Best Wine List
William Lewis of The Winery Restaurant accepts the award for Best Wine List

By Christopher Trela & Catherine Del Casale | NB Indy

Which restaurant has the best wine list in Orange County? How about the best happy hour, or the best hamburger?

We learned the answers to those questions and more last Sunday when we attended the Third Annual Golden Foodie Awards, presented by the OC Restaurant Association at the Fairmont Newport Beach.

Hundreds of people from Orange County’s restaurant community came together to honor chefs, bartenders and restaurateurs. Golden statuettes were handed out in 26 categories, from Best Chef and Best New Restaurant to Best Bartender and Best Taco.

The evening started with a pre-awards gathering featuring cuisine from 20 restaurants (including many of the

Marin and Noah Blom of Arc, ARC bartender Koire Rogers
Marin and Noah Blom of Arc, ARC bartender Koire Rogers

nominees), plus libations from Patron, Ketel One, Celebrity Cruises, and more.

Among those we spotted at the reception: Chef Pascal Olhats (Café Jardin at Sherman Gardens), Chef Cathy Pavlos (Provenance in Eastbluff) serving signature dishes, Chef Deborah Schneider (SOL Cocina) cooking up a mess of stuffed peppers, Chef Yvon Goetz (The Winery Restaurant in Newport Beach) sipping wine with a bevy of beautiful ladies), Wing Lam (Wahoo’s Fish Tacos), and other local culinary celebs.

Once seated inside the packed ballroom, attendees enjoyed gold-themed desserts, champagne, and Chambord.

Wing Lam and Ed Lee of Wahoo's present an award
Wing Lam and Ed Lee of Wahoo’s present an award

Awards presenters included Heather Dubrow (“Real Housewives of Orange County”) and Scott Dunlop, creator of the “Real Housewives” franchise, former LA Rams Quarterback Vince Ferragamo, Dennis Kuhl (Chairman of Angel’s Baseball), ex-Sugar Ray drummer Stan Frazier (co-owner of Sgt. Pepperoni’s Pizza), Wing Lam and Ed Lee (Wahoo’s), Master Sommelier Michael Jordan, and many other notable names.

Many Newport Beach restaurants were nominated, and many of them took home a statuette.

Among the local winners:

ARC won for Best American Cuisine, and while the restaurant is in Costa Mesa, owner Noah Blom

Chef Yvon Goetz of The Winery, and friends
Chef Yvon Goetz of The Winery, and friends

and his wife Marin live in Newport Beach. Their sensational cuisine is cooked in a wood-fired oven. Oh—and ARC bartender Koire Rogers won for Best Bartender (his cocktails are creative and sophisticated).

SOL Cocina on Coast Highway was nominated for Best Mexican Restaurant and Best Taco, and won for Best Taco. We can vouch for that!

Bluefin in Crystal Cove Shopping Center won for Best Sushi—their dishes are art on a plate, and pleasing to the palate.

Golden Cupcakes from Casey's Cupcakes
Golden Cupcakes from Casey’s Cupcakes

Mare Culinary Lounge won for Best Italian. That’s Alessandro Pirozzi’s Laguna Beach restaurant, but fans of his latest venture, Pirozzi’s in Corona del Mar, would cast their vote locally.

Best Wine List was almost a shoe-in: The Winery Restaurant and Wine Bar. Again, we agree, and that’s due to the skill of Sommelier William Lewis.

Best Indian Cuisine went to Tamarind of London in Crystal Cove Shopping Center. The restaurant has been gaining notoriety lately, and this seals the accolades.

Best Seafood went to Bluewater Grill. Accepting the award was owner Jim Ulcickas, who paid tribute to his late chef Brian Hirsty, who passed away earlier this year.

“I’m looking forward to checking out all of the winning restaurants, but a few stand out for me,” said Catherine. “It’s been awhile since I’ve been to ARC and since they won both best American cuisine and best bartender I’m going to have to see what’s new on the food and libations menu. Also, with the Newport location of The Winery now open, it makes it easier to make my way through their extensive and exceptional wine list one glass at a time.”

“Speaking of which, lets raise a glass and toast not only the winners and nominees, but all the restaurants that help make Newport Beach, and Orange County, a true dining mecca,” said Christopher.


Golden Chef Award

​1. Chef Alan Greeley – The Golden Truffle

  1. Chef Andrew Sutton – Napa Rose and Club 33
  2. Chef Michael Rossi – The Ranch Restaurant

Golden Pastry Chef Award

  1. Chef Dave Rossi – The Ranch Restaurant
  2. Chef Heather Fisher – Selanne Steak Tavern
  3. Chef Shelly Register- A Restaurant

Best New Restaurant

  1. Little Sparrow
  2.  Selanne Steak Tavern
  3. The Winery Restaurant & Wine Bar Newport Beach

Best Food Talk Radio:

  1.  The Fork Report with Neil Saavedra
  2. Food & Wine with Chef Jamie Gwen
  3. SoCal Restaurant Show


Best Cocktails in Orange County:

  1. 320 Main
  2. Broadway
  3. Arc Food and Libations


Best Burgers in Orange County:

  1. Blk Burgrz
  2. Mick’s Karma Bar
  3. Slater’s 50 / 50


Best American Cuisine in Orange County:

  1. Arc Food and Libations
  2. Playground
  3. Paul Martin’s American Grill

Best Beer:

  1. Provisions
  2. Hopscotch
  3. Slater’s 50 / 50

Best Mexican Cuisine:

  1. Anepalco’s Café
  2. Sol Cocina
  3. The Matador

Best Pizza:

  1. Il Dolce
  2. Mozza
  3. Pizzeria Ortica


Best Vegetarian Cuisine:

  1. Zinc Café
  2. 118 Degrees
  3. Seabirds


Best Happy Hour:

  1. Wildfish Seafood Grille
  2. Anqi Gourmet Bistro and Noodle Bar
  3. Chapter One: The Modern Local​


Best Tacos:

  1. Mi Casa Mexican Restaurant
  2. Taco Rosa
  3. Sol Cocina​


Best Sushi:

  1. Bluefin Fine Japanese Cuisine
  2. Sushi Noguchi

​3. Riptide Sushi


Mediterranean Cuisine:

  1. Rosine’s Mediterranean Café
  2. Zov’s Restaurant
  3. LUCCA


Best Italian Cuisine:

  1. Antonello Ristorante
  2. Cucina enoteca
  3. Mare Culinary Lounge


Best Wine List:

  1. The Winery Restaurant and Wine Bar
  2. The Hobbit
  3. Cucina enoteca


Best French Cuisine:

  1. The Cellar
  2. Marché Moderne
  3. Pinot Provence


​Best Steak:

  1.  Selanne Steak Tavern
  2. The Ranch Restaurant
  3. Steakhouse 55


​Best Bartender:

  1. Rich Ohtsuka
  2.  Koire Rogers
  3. Michelle Bearden


Best Food Writer:

  1. Cathy Thomas
  2. Dave Lieberman
  3. Anita Lau


Best Indian Cuisine:

  1. ADYA
  2. The Clay Oven
  3. Tamarind of London


Best California Cuisine:

  1. 370 Common
  2.  Sealegs
  3. Andrei’s Conscious Cuisine


Most Delicious Dessert:

  1. Vitaly Café
  2. Maro Wood Grill
  3. Waterline Restaurant


Best Seafood:

  1. Bluewater Grill
  2. Slapfish
  3. Scott’s Restaurant and Bar


Best Asian Cuisine:

  1. Hamamori
  2.  AnQi Gourmet Bistro & Noodle Bar
  3. Ten Asian Bistro


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    • Hi Ruth: It depends on what kind of experience you want. We love The Winery Restaurant on Coast Highway, it’s upscale with terrific food and ambiance, it can get loud on the weekends but it’s a fun place, and the dining room is quieter than the lounge area. If you’re looking for something more romantic, we suggest either Il Barone (in Newport but near John Wayne airport), or a restaurant like Amelia’s on Balboa Island. The Island has a handful of charming restaurants, and you can wander the island, enjoying the shops on Marine Avenue or strolling the walkway around the island that takes you past some impressive homes. From there, you could take the ferry across to the fun zone and ride the ferris wheel and play skeeball, and enjoy a balboa bar for dessert. If you want more suggestions, email me at [email protected], I am the editor and I co-write the dining column.