Off the Menu: Beloved Balboa Island Dining Icon Amelia’s Prepares to Bid Adieu

Share this:
Amelia in the kitchen
Amelia in the kitchen

By Christopher Trela & Catherine Del Casale | NB Indy

Restaurants come and go. Some last a year or two, others manage to hang on a bit longer. They seldom last long enough to celebrate 20 years, let alone 50, but there are a handful of local dining icons that have hit the five decade mark.

One of those, Amelia’s on Balboa Island, opened in 1961, and became a culinary institution (the cozy table for two on the tiny patio is a coveted dining spot).

Word came to us this week from Alexandra Robinson, granddaughter of founder (and the restaurant’s namesake) Amelia Seton, that after 54 years, Amelia’s is up for sale.

“I couldn’t be more proud of my parents, John & Hetty Robinson, for taking over a legacy that my grandmother, Amelia

Amelia in front of her restaurant
Amelia in front of her restaurant

Seton, opened with her husband, Greg, in 1961,” Alexandra told us in an email. “They have run it for the last 40 years and continued the vision that my grandmother originally created; a warm setting for locals and tourists to enjoy fresh fish, other quality foods and a welcoming atmosphere much like a family kitchen with photos on the wall, employees that have been there for decades and recipes that never change.”

She noted that while her family has had many ventures over the years, the Amelia’s location on Marina Avenue is “the first and the last for us.”

Selling the restaurant has been a topic of conversation with her parents for several years, and with their 45th wedding anniversary approaching, she supports their decision to retire and enjoy life “without the scheduling, payroll, reservations, food orders, wine stocking and general maintenance that has been the standard day to day for them.”

Amelias“I have seen the emotion behind their choice to walk away and hope everybody knows that they have truly loved serving the community and keeping my grandmother’s spirit alive,” said Alexandra, who has been active in helping her family run the restaurant.

“We thank everyone for allowing us years of your patronage and will forever hold on to the memories of the countless engagements, anniversaries, rehearsals, birthdays and all other special celebrations that have taken place at Amelia’s. We don’t know what will come of the restaurant and its future, but we hope that it remains very similar to what it is now.”

Alexandra said they will be serving through the holidays, and until a buyer is found and Escrow closes, “we will be

A signature pasta dish at Amelia's
A signature pasta dish at Amelia’s

cooking and welcoming each and every guest. We will not be selling overnight and promise to announce our departure when we do see it on the horizon.”

We’ve been to Amelia’s and love the warm ambiance, friendly staff, and of course the cuisine with prices that are hard to beat. We’ll be going back soon to enjoy this treasured restaurant while we can.


Fleming’s Serves 100 Wines

We love a good glass of wine, and so does Fleming’s in Fashion Island. The restaurant just launched its 100 Wines by the Glass program for 2016, and it’s a good one.

Curated each year by Maeve Pesquera, Fleming’s National Director of Wine, the Fleming’s 100 (as it’s known) encourages guests “to explore and complement their dining experience through guided discovery.”

flemings wineWe’re told that the list takes a full year to create. Pesquera travels to wine growing regions to discover new wines, connect with winemakers to experience what they are working on, see what they are excited about, and bring it back to Fleming’s patrons.

We went to a recent tasting of selections from the Fleming’s 100 list, and were indeed impressed with the variety of wines. Selections this year include Ca’ del Bosco Brut Franciacorta Cuvee, Prestige Italy (a beautiful bubbly), “The Whip” white blend from Livermore Valley (an up and coming wine region), Complicated Chardonnay from Sonoma County, Paraduxx Proprietary Red from Napa Valley, and Educated Guess Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley.

We were particularly impressed with the Italian varietals and intrigued to learn about the specific wine regions of Italy, and Sicily.

Guests can enjoy the Fleming’s 100 by the glass, Big Pour, bottle or as part of a customizable flight. Amazingly, more than 30 wines are priced at $10 or under by the glass.

To learn more about the Fleming’s 100, please visit

Back Bay Bistro Wine Education Series

The Newport Beach-based OC Wine School is holding a Thanksgiving Wine Pairing class at Back Bay Bistro on Thursday, Nov. 5 from 6 to 8 p.m.

Discover the perfect pairing for Thanksgiving dinner while sampling recipe ideas to bump up a traditional holiday dinner. Also discussed: myths, traditions and rules about wine and food pairings.

OC Wine School owners Peter and Holy Smith are specialists in wine, travel and hospitality, and own the world’s largest wine travel company, Avalon Wine Tours. They host monthly Wine Education classes at Back Bay Bistro the first Thursday of every month.

Cost to attend the Thanksgiving Wine Pairing Class is $75 per person and includes a selection of six to eight wines, complimentary hors d’oeuvres selections, and an informative tasting booklet

Visit to register for classes and for more details.

Halloween at Fig & Olive

Fig & Olive in Fashion Island is getting into the Halloween spirit with a special prix-fixe dinner on Oct. 31 that sounds frightfully tasty.

Start with a crostini tasting followed by choice of butternut squash and chestnut soup, insalata di fregolo, burrata and heirloom beet salad, or salmon crudo. Main course choices are fig and gorgonzola risotto, chicken pailard, riviera salmon, paella, or rosemary lamb choips. Finish your dinner with choice of chestnut mousse with amarena cherry or chocolate pot de crème. Cost is $45 per person. For a festive touch, add a pumpkin martini for $12.

Visit for more information.

Share this: