Orange County, CA Restaurant News
NEW RESTAURANTS IN ORANGE COUNTY
Mezzet Mediterranean Cuisine has opened in the South Coast Plaza in the Crate and Barrel/Macy’s Home Store Wing. The concept offers East Mediterranean fare like kebabs and couscous dishes, plus Neapolitan pizzas and flatbreads. Mezzet Mediterranean Cuisine, South Coast Plaza, 3333 S. Bear St., Costa Mesa, CA 92704, 714-540-3365.
EMC Seafood & Raw Bar has opened in Irvine, joining the ever-growing number of Los Angeles-based restaurants drawn to Orange County. This sleek venue is staying true to its Koreatown roots by offering a range of seafood items, includung raw oysters, congee and whole branzino. Elegant, contemporary meat dishes juxtapose these options. Lunch & Dinner daily. EMC Seafood & Raw Bar, 14346 Culver Dr., Irvine, CA 92604, 949-748-3979.
Filipino restaurant Irenia has opened in downtown Santa Ana. Set in the space formerly operated by North Left, the new restaurant is an extension of Irenia Supper Club, a pop-up concept hatched by owner/executive chef Ryan Garlitos. The venue showcases authentic Filipino lunch and dinner items like lumpia, dilis (fried anchovies) and adobo carefully crafted by Garlitos, who honed his craft in the kitchen of Taco Maria. Lunch & Dinner Tue.-Sat. Irenia, 400 N. Broadway, Santa Ana, CA 92701, 657-245-3466.
The team behind Huntington Beach’s popular SeaLegs Wine Bar has opened their second restaurant concept, SeaSalt Woodfire Grill. The new restaurant is a stone’s throw from SeaLegs and features a unique spin on California cuisine, built around grilling meat Santa Maria-style. SeaLegs’ executive chef Alexander Dale oversees the menu, and he also created several house-made flavored sea salts to season the grilled meats. SeaSalt Woodfire Grill, 21214 Beach Blvd., Huntington Beach, CA 92648, 714-804-5545.
Kona Grill has launched its first California location in Orange County, located in the Irvine Spectrum. Guests can expect an array of sushi and Pacific Rim-inspired contemporary entrées. Pair your meal with wine, beer, cocktails or saké. Kona Grill, Irvine Spectrum, 71 Spectrum Center Dr., Irvine, CA 92618, 949-535-1010.
Contemporary seafood restaurant Anchor Hitch has opened in South Orange County retail and restaurant space Union Market Mission Viejo. The restaurant features a raw bar and modern handcrafted seafood fare such as green curried scallop risotto and uni pasta with a dashi poached egg, served up family style. Patrons might pair dishes with craft cocktails. Anchor Hitch, Union Market Mission Viejo, 27741 Crown Valley Pkwy., Mission Viejo, CA 92691, 626-757-3471.
The team behind the popular San Clemente restaurant Vine has launched their latest dining concept, Ironwood, located in Laguna Hills. Vine’s executive chef, Jared Cook, oversees the kitchen, which features farm-to-table cuisine made from locally sourced ingredients. The venue also offers craft cocktails and beers, as well as more than 25 wine selections by the glass. Ironwood, 25250 La Paz Rd., Ste. 100, Laguna Hills, CA 92653, 949-446-8772.
Angelina’s Pizzeria Napoletana has opened its second location in Orange County. The new venue can be found in Irvine's Los Olivos Marketplace, across the way from Verizon Amphitheater. In addition to crafting wood-fired Neapolitan-style pizza, the eatery serves up a variety of salads, sandwiches, pasta and traditional Italian dishes, which can be paired with a selection from their wine list. Lunch & Dinner daily. Angelina's Pizzeria Napoletana, Los Olivos Marketplace, 8573 Irvine Center Dr., Irvine, CA 92618, 949-536-5200.
Executive chef Matthew Briggs has launched Public Steak in Santa Ana. Briggs earned his stripes at Mastro’s and The Loft in the Montage Laguna Beach, among other venues. At Steak, Briggs has crafted a chef-driven, fine-dining establishment specializing in contemporary steakhouse fare with a few adventurous touches. Steaks, chops and seafood offerings can be accompanied by a selection from the restaurant’s wine list. Public Steak, 3751 S. Harbor Blvd. Ste. C, Santa Ana, CA 92704, 714-557-2987.
The build-your-own-slider concept Hatch is located in the Union Market Tustin retail complex within The District shopping center. It provides patrons the opportunity to mix and match different proteins, cheeses and buns to create an array of hand-held combinations. Guests can also indulge in small bites and sides such as fries and wings to accompany their sliders. The venue also serves craft beers and Tiki drinks. Hatch, Union Market Tustin, 2493 Park Ave., Tustin, CA 92782, 657-208-2088.
The Los Angeles-based seafood restaurant Water Grill is coming to Orange County. The new eatery is slated to open in August 2016. Like its sister restaurants in downtown Los Angeles, Santa Monica and San Diego’s Gaslamp District, the restaurant will present a rotating menu of upscale seafood dishes, emphasizing sustainable ingredients. Water Grill, 3300 Bristol St., Costa Mesa, CA 92626, no phone.
The high-end Japanese eatery Nobu is making its way to Orange County. The restaurant, which has locations dotted all over the globe, is slated to open in late 2016 as part of the radical redesign of Newport Beach’s Lido Marina Village. Like the other locations, it will feature sushi, izakaya fare and signature dishes inspired by chef and restaurant namesake Nobu Matsuhisa. Nobu, Lido Marina Village, Newport Beach, CA 92663, no phone.
ARC Food & Libations executive chef Noah Blom had announced he would launch a duo of different culinary concepts in Costa Mesa’s perpetually hot shopping and dining center South Coast Collection. Now open is Restaurant Marin, a fast-casual eatery patterned after a modern diner. The Guild Club, which will be reminiscent of a classic supper club, complete with 19th-century design motifs, is set to debut soon. The two restaurants will be managed by DirtySexyHappiness Hospitality Group, the business Blom co-owns with his wife, Marin Howarth. Restaurant Marin and The Guild Club, South Coast Collection, 3321 Hyland Ave., Ste. G, Costa Mesa, CA 92626, 949-500-5561.
Vince Ferragamo’s Wine Dinner Meet & Greet at Back Bay Bistro
Back Bay Bistro, the flagship dining venue at Newport Beach’s Newport Dunes resort, is celebrating the return of the Los Angeles Rams by hosting Vince Ferragamo’s Wine Dinner Meet & Greet. The former Rams quarterback and current local vintner will pair up with a former or current player from the storied NFL franchise to present an educational evening of food and drink on the third Thursday of the month. The event includes a five-course dinner, and each course will be accompanied by Italian and regional wines. The evenings kick off with a welcome reception at 6 p.m. For more information, please visit the event website. Back Bay Bistro, Newport Dunes Resort, 1131 Back Bay Dr., Newport Beach, CA 92660, 949-729-1144.
Slow Smoked Sundaze at Oak Grill
Oak Grill, the flagship restaurant at Island Hotel Newport Beach, hosts Slow Smoked Sundaze, a family-friendly barbecue Sunday supper designed to capture the essence of the classic summertime cookout. Executive chef Marc Johnson taps into his Southern culinary roots for the weekly event, offering a menu loaded with exquisitely smoked meats and traditional sides. Fare can be enjoyed in the dining room or on the venue’s relaxed outdoor deck. Entrees and sides include baby back ribs, fried chicken, cedar-planked salmon, corn on the cob, mac ’n' cheese, sautéed greens and pecan pie. Guests might complement their meal with a glass of basil- and strawberry-infused lemonade. Oak Grill, Island Hotel Newport Beach, 690 Newport Center Dr., Newport Beach, CA 92660, 949-760-4920.
California Wine Nights at EATS Kitchen + Bar
EATS Kitchen & Bar, Hotel Irvine’s flagship restaurant, is hosting California Wine Nights. Guests will enjoy an interactive wine pairing dinner showcasing a different top-notch winery from the Golden State each evening. EATS executive chef Jason Montelibano will craft a five-course meal to go with the wines, and winemakers will be on hand to discuss each glass that’s poured. Cost is $75 per person, excluding tax and gratuity. Seating is limited. For more information, please visit the restaurant’s website. EATS Kitchen + Bar, Hotel Irvine, 17900 Jamboree Rd., Irvine, CA 92614, 949-230-4452.
Montage Laguna Beach has announced Michael Campbell as the new chef de cuisine of oceanview restaurant The Loft. Campbell joins the luxury resort's staff with impressive experience under his belt. In addition to opening popular Costa Mesa restaurant Pueblo, Campbell has worked as executive sous chef for San Francisco restaurant RN74; French eatery Numero 75; and Barcelona venue Arrel Del Bom. The Loft, Montage Laguna Beach, 30801 Coast Hwy., Laguna Beach, CA 92651, 949-715-6000.
Jeffrey Boullt has parted ways with SOCIAL Costa Mesa. No reason was given for the executive chef's departure. Boullt held the position when the restaurant made its debut in late 2014. SOCIAL Costa Mesa, 512 W. 19th St., Costa Mesa, CA 92627, 949-642-2425.
Chris Tzorin has parted ways with Kutsi Cocina in Santa Ana. The downtown Santa Ana eatery has announced that Luis Fernandez will take the reins of the kitchen. A native of Uruapan in Michoacan, Mexico, Fernandez aims to craft a menu of traditional and modern regional Mexican cuisine with a touch of American and Spanish influence. Chef Tzorin has moved on to become executive chef at Brea’s Tempo Urban Kitchen. Kutsi Cocina, Santora Building, 201 N. Broadway, Santa Ana, CA 92701, 714-564-1616.
ORANGE COUNTY RESTAURANT CLOSINGS
Café Zoolu shut its doors after serving downtown Laguna Beach for 22 years. The venue, known for its unique mélange of Hawaiian, Cajun, Mexican and Asian cuisines, closed due to the retirement of chef/co-owner Michael Leech and his wife. There is no word on what will take over the space. Cafe Zoolu, 860 Glenneyre St., Laguna Beach, CA 92651, no phone.
Downtown Santa Ana bistro Little Sparrow has closed its doors. The popular eatery, which was one of the anchors of the city’s burgeoning dining scene, served its final plates on April 16. The venue’s owners are planning to launch a new dining concept, Black Box, in the same space. The opening date has not yet been revealed. Little Sparrow, 300 N. Main St., Santa Ana, CA 92701, no phone.
View GAYOT's calendar of Wine Dinners & Tastings in Orange County