Located along Newport’s scenic Mariner’s Mile, The Ritz Prime Seafood offers a fine dining experience harbor side with pristine luxury boats as eye candy and a premium globally influenced menu featuring sustainable fish and seafood flown in daily, as well as dry-aged steaks, chops and Jidori chicken.
This past fall, The Ritz Prime Seafood welcomed a new team in operators Ben Sabouri and Young Lee and brought in Executive Chef George Neyra to helm the kitchen. The chic, upscale restaurant has its own thoroughly modern look with a distinctive personality and vibe to distinguish itself on its journey to becoming a legend in its own right. Dinner and weekend brunch service are offered in a visually stunning glass-walled dining room with contrasting light and dark finishes set off by a gleaming art-deco style ceiling and sophisticated armchairs that encourage intimate conversation while enjoying a leisurely repast.
Claude’s Buffalo Wings are addictive and the lollipop presentation makes them suitable for fine dining.
Guests are treated to a team service approach that was orchestrated quietly and efficiently with no confusion, which is often not the case. Our hosts, Managing Partner Young Lee and Executive Chef George Neyra graciously introduced themselves and Lee periodically stopped by our table to make sure all was well.
First off, selecting a cocktail from the well curated signature craft cocktail list featuring appealing libations such as the Boulevardier composed of Buffalo Trace bourbon,Campari, vermouth Cynar and orange peel – a spirited bold and bitter drink. We were in the mood for something a little more subtle, so Mr. went with an Old Fashioned and I selected the Smoked Paloma with Casamigos Reposado, Mezcal, and grapefruit juice.
Contemplating the massive luxury boat docked before us, our daydreaming was interrupted by the swift arrival of four of the most requested appetizers. The list of starters leans toward seafood, which you will surely appreciate once you feast your eyes on the vivid interplay of colors and textures in their presentation and taste the wonderful array of flavors.
The Hamachi Crudo ($18) of fresh hamachi, avocado, and crisp slices of green apple and radishes bathed in yuzu koshu and sweet apple vinegar is citrusy, light, and bright. The incredibly tender Grilled Octopus ($19), baby potatoes, slivers of asparagus and Marcona almonds is emboldened with smoked paprika and Romesco sauce. My photo does not do The Ahi Tuna Poppers ($12, bottom R) justice because you can barely see the golden brown, crispy sushi rice base beneath the creamy ahi tuna-sriracha aioli mixture. I have been dreaming of sinking my teeth into those poppers since seeing pics of them circulating on Instagram. Highly recommend!
Wine List selections complement the chef’s menu and offer both celebratory bottles, as well as reasonably priced wines and wines by the glass. The waitstaff is well versed in the wine offerings and can assist you with your choice – with cocktails already imbibed and an after dinner drink in my future, we did not want to order a bottle and were very pleased with our lead waiter’s recommendation of the Whetstone Pinot Noir served by the glass. It was an excellent pairing for the exquisite Foie Gras Torchon ($24) presented with a sprinkling of rhubarb and strawberries drizzled with sassafrass root balsamic on a bed of crunchy granola. This sweetly unique flavor combination works to balance the richness of the foie and add textural interest, but all together it was a tad too sweet for my taste.
We reveled in the ambiance and exemplary service as the evening’s entertainers began performing from their roster of pop favorites and requests from two boisterous men seated at the piano bar, adding to the clubby Las Vegas’y vibe. Our two entrees arrived with a flourish and we wondered how we were going to finish them, which we did not, but Tank the Corgi was a happy fur baby later that evening! Both the Pan Seared Sea Bass ($38) and the 16 oz. Bone-in Ribeye ($65) were perfectly executed, generously portioned, beautifully presented, and bursting with flavor.
Pan Seared Sea Bass | English peas, Vichyssoise, Espelette pepper, Meyer lemon
16 oz. Bone-in Ribeye | bone marrow butter, broccoli potato au gratin, marsala jus
Chef brought out a trio of desserts for us to try and even though we were at the point of full satiation, we couldn’t resist a few bites of each. Don always goes for the chocolate and I prefer citrus, so we were both happy campers!
Figs and Financier | Brûléed Figs, Financier, Vanilla Ice Cream
Chocolate Molten Cake | Vanilla Ice Cream+ Raspberry Coulis
Powdered Sugar Donuts with Bailey’s Caramel
The Ritz 55 Signature Cocktail | craft cocktail and whiskey lovers – don’t leave without trying it!
We had a truly gracious evening from start to finish, and vowed to make a return visit soon. I’ve heard fabulous things about this dish, so I already know what I’m ordering!
Butterfish | udon noodles, mushroom dashi
Then again, the Lamb Rack with zucchini mint puree and Israeli couscous looked amazing on my friend’s Instagram…
The Ritz Prime Seafood also hosts a Sunday Brunch with sweet starts like Bananas Foster Waffle, Chocolate Chip Pancakes and Strawberries and Cream. Full Plates include Chuck’s Huevos with with salsa verde lasagna and refried beans; Crab Hash; Chicken and Waffle; Steak and Egg; and Hangover Burger. Other brunch favorites are Breakfast Melt, Chorizo and Egg Burrito, and their fabulous version of Avocado Toast.
Happy Hour is enjoyed in the bar, lounge and on the patio, Tuesday through Friday from 5 to 7 p.m.; Saturday from 4 to 7 p.m.; and Sunday from 3 to 6 p.m. The perfect place to end a hectic workday or to languish on the patio during the weekend.
2801 W Coast Highway, Newport Beach, CA