It's been almost 2 years since The Ritz – an iconic power-lunching & special event restaurant from the 70's – closed down. It was a sad occasion, seeing yet another piece of Newport Beach history crumble.
I remember it like it was yesterday. Trying to get a reservation in their final month was like vying for a back-stage pass to the Vanity Fair Oscars party. I had to pull some strings, and maybe tell a few fibs, but it was well worth revisiting one of my favorite childhood restaurants, just outside Fashion Island.
In an attempt to muster up a joyous spirit despite the inevitable, The Ritz decided to keep their Christmas decorations up through March. Being a lover of all things Christmas, and known to enjoy holiday music year-round, I of course had no problem with this. Nor, did I have a problem with the elbow-rubbing packed capacity of my final night.
I ran into old friends at the old fashioned country club-like mahogany bar. And, old acquaintances too at our black pin-tucked leather booth in the red-carpeted, Victorian wall papered dining room.
The crowd was rip-roaring. Bottles of Champagne were free flowing. And, classics like Escargots En Croute and "The Ritz Egg" were being savored down to the last bite.
Having opened just this past October in the former Chart House location on Newport Beach's Mariners Mile, the new Ritz looks nothing like the old restaurant. It's shiny, modern, and new with an incredible bay view, and elements of surf and sand.
Like the interior, the menu is new too, featuring Sushi and Lobster Rolls, a Weekend Happy Hour from 10am-5pm, and a Bottomless Champagne Brunch with Bloody Mary Bar.
- delicate, organic, creamy 'n rich, The Ritz Egg with Smoked Salmon & Caviar $16
- thick cut, greasy goodness, Kurobuta Bacon $8
- smokey yet sweet with a spicy kick, Grilled Shigoku Oysters with Brown Sugar Bourbon Butter MKT
- has it all, tender, buttery 'n toasted to perfection, Lobster Benedict with Thai Basil Bearnaise & Caviar on Brioche $28
- colossal, a must share, Coconut Cake with Rum & Passion Fruit Buttercream Frosting
- toasty crunch and somewhat dry, Sticky Toffee Pudding
The food was phenomenal – pretty much flawless – and, our waiter James was exceptional, attentive, and friendly.
Unlike, the former Ritz restaurant's lively closing party, the opening of the new Ritz Prime Seafood was rather quiet. In fact, I didn't even know they re-opened until I saw they were participating in Newport Beach Restaurant Week.
So, make sure to catch the end of it with The Ritz Prime Seafood's Three Course Prix-Fixe Dinner.
Hopefully, the new Ritz is here to stay.
2801 W. Coast Highway, Newport Beach, CA 92660. 949-720-1800.