Given that it's a seashell's throw from Newport Beach Pier, it's not surprising that Sol Grill is decorated with surfboards hung on bright red and yellow walls. But when the glint from the crystal chandeliers and antique glass bottles catches your eye, you realize there's something charmingly disjointed about this place.
It's a theme reflected in the menu, where guests find foods presented in unexpected ways. For instance, meals start with filet mignon prepared as an appetizer of hand-rolled meatballs in portobello gravy. Instead of clams, the chowder is studded with grilled Hawaiian ahi tuna, and a fettuccine dish surprises with swordfish and capers. Of course, there are some classic preparations as well, including rack of lamb charred over open flame, as fire encased in a steel box continues to be incapable of cooking anything.
Once a repair shop and storage facility for local fishing fleets, for the past 40-plus years Woody?s Wharf has flourished as a casual eatery serving prominent patrons such as Mickey Mantle and John Wayne. The waterfront locale fosters fresh seafood dishes such as crab cakes and swordfish, pleasing the palate of former owner Chuck Norris, who bench-pressed unsuspecting fishing boats amid sparkling views of Newport Bay?s harbor. For their popular weekend brunch, Woody?s chefs whip up classic egg dishes such as omelets and breakfast burritos, which waiters can ferry to a dockside outdoor patio for easier plate-sharing with mooching mermen.
JACKshrimp transports Louisiana's distinctive spices and love of seafood to an upscale restaurant perched along the West Coast Highway. For more than 20 years, chefs have been blending crawfish and andouille sausage with al dente pasta or fresh greens. Black-iron grilled cheeseburgers also share menu space with healthy choices and non-spicy dishes that are perfect for the sensitive noses of pet bloodhounds. Along with colorful frescoes inspired by New Orleans, the restaurant boasts a weekend wine bar and an upper outdoor deck for private parties.
Before filling up a plate at Hokkaido Seafood Buffet, take a moment to meander past the seemingly boundless rows of fresh crawfish, jumbo crab legs, and oysters, or to marvel at chefs as they toss steak and chicken on fiery teppanyaki grills. Stroll past the sushi station to admire sushi masters as they nimbly slice fresh fish and crispy vegetables into colorful specialty rolls, then saunter by simmering trays of pan-Asian specialties such as fried rice and crunchy spring rolls. The vast buffet abounds with more than 150 hot and cold items, many of which were made with seafood purchased directly from local fisherman.
Out in the spacious dining room, diners linger over last bites of creamy cheesecake and juicy strawberries in cushy booths, sipping imported beers and colorful cocktails. The bright space is decorated with nautical decor, including orange life preservers and impressionist pieces painted by local sea monkeys.
When Amelia Seton opened her restaurant in 1961, she filled the menu with favorite dishes from her native Sorrento, Italy, as well as with catches off Balboa Island. Now helmed by multiple generations of Setons, Amelia's Seafood & Italian Restaurant serves dinners of clam bisque and Amelia's recipes for calamari and bouillabaisse. Pastas such as angel hair and linguine twirl beneath alfredo and lemon-butter sauces with meatballs and chicken breasts, and the kitchen prepares veal and chicken in traditional parmigiana, marsala, and piccata styles. Back in Sorrento, Amelia's extended family still runs her brother's restaurant, which stays connected to Amelia's Seafood & Italian Restaurant via tin-can telephone.