Mario's By The Sea serves a menu of Italian specialties including more than 20 pasta options and a long list of entrees starring chicken, veal, seafood, and veggies. A combination of chilled melon cloaked in imported Italian prosciutto ($10) and a hot, crispy calamaretti fritti ($13) combines cool and warm fronts to prepare stomachs for a pasta downpour. The veal tortellini champagne pasta ($14–$19) employs a bubbly infused cream sauce to help diners celebrate recent purchases of full-sized yachts constructed carefully in bottles.
Cannons Seafood Grill, perched atop a picturesque cliff overlooking the Dana Point Marina, has delighted diners since 1972 with its menu of fresh, savory seafood. Dive into meals such as the signature lobster bruschetta, a layer of melted blue cheese covering fresh tomato, tarragon bruschetta, and pieces of lobster clinging to one another atop a grilled-sourdough-bread dance floor ($12.95). The grilled swordfish steak Mediterranean brandishes red and yellow tomatoes, sweet red peppers, and artichoke hearts ($25.95), and the sizzling New York sirloin arrives tableside ready to be seared and sporting a rakish derby (29.95). A wide selection of cocktails, such as the Thin Mint, made with Absolut Vanilla, Bailey's Irish Cream, and DeKuper Green Crème de Menthe ($11.50), helps ease first-date jitters.
For nearly 80 years, Gemmell's Garden Centre has fortified and ornamented lawns with plants, garden decor, and accessories. Undernourished noses can feast on the fruits of Gemmell's 24 lush greenhouses, where more than 48 combinations of colourful, fragrant Victorian hanging baskets ($39.95) originate. Customers can conceal a lawn’s bald spots with photosynthesizing toupees such as vegetable plants, including more than 30 varieties of plump tomatoes ($1.99–$4.29). Trees and shrubs ($10+), meanwhile, lavish lawns with a leafy canopy in the summer and shelter for hibernating garden gnomes in the winter. The nursery’s friendly, knowledgeable staff provides helpful advice on gardening and landscape design, gladly assisting customers in selecting plants for filling flower beds, pots, or piñatas.