THE RITZ IN NEWPORT BEACH
Q: Why does the magnificent Escoffier room at the Ritz Restaurant in Newport Beach remind someone of the magnificent Scandia Restaurant in Los Angeles?
A: Both were built and designed by one and the same person.
Freddie Glusman, the current owner of the Ritz, has also owned Pierro in Las Vegas for the past 25 years. He has brought his special vision to each of the five separate rooms at the Ritz Restaurant. And, the Escoffier Room, where we dined, may well be one of the most exquisite rooms we have ever seen.
As we entered, we were greeted with warm amber lighting, an array of tables and black leather booths, oversized chairs, a snowy field of white linen as far as the eye could see, big chandeliers, and those large, handsome copper dual rotisseries with four large geese turning that could whet even the most jaded appetite. Goose is preferred at Christmas holiday time, but (usually) there are ducks on the spit. No matter, you will be delighted if you order either of them, I promise!
The lovely menu is one of the most complete anywhere: sixteen appetizers, including the “Ritz Egg” and “The Carousel”; four soups; nine salads; twelve “House Specialties” and four Featured Items that include a Roast Christmas Goose with Lingonberry Sauce and seven Everyday Classics (fish and seafood); plus seven most tempting desserts. Generous portions are offered, so you might plan to share often and reap the rewards of sampling several different dishes.
Note: In checking both luncheon and dinner menus: Soups, salads, and appetizers all appear to be the same price; there is a distinguishable difference in their fish, and seafood entrees where prices curve downward, and there are three tempting sandwiches under twenty dollars.
We began our dinner with the Special Squash Soup for my wife and their Combination Seafood cocktail for me. It’s a combination of Maine lobster morsels and Dungeness crab legs, accompanied by two sauces; a mustard sauce and a delicious cocktail sauce. A splendid beginning that was served graciously and expertly by Stephen. We shared the Spring Mix Salad: a combo of mixed lettuce with goat cheese, caramelized walnuts, pears, and walnut oil vinaigrette: so light, so special! A wonderful lead-in to our entrees that we selected from the “Featured Items” list. My wife selected the Bavarian “Holiday” sauerbraten that was accompanied by crisp German potato pancakes, sweet-sour red cabbage and gingersnap sauce, laced with sour cream. Thoughts of calories flew out the window, and she showed me two thumbs up with her most engaging smile. The dish was a huge success!
Naturally, I couldn’t resist the goose. Its twists and turns on that rotisserie had been calling me ever since we sat down. This was served with warm apple compote, the red cabbage, and I substituted the celery root mashed potatoes for some of those crispy potato pancakes. Two huge goose breasts appeared, smothered in that same sweet lingonberry sauce, and each bite was a revelation. Good? No. Great? Yes!
Excellent food cooked by master chefs, served by a gracious waiter in an absolutely lovely ambiance; it doesn’t get any better, anywhere.
We completed dinner with the Profiteroles and their Viennese Apple & Pear strudel, and I suggest you do the same, although the other five choices may tempt you to explore further.
To me, the name “Ritz” connotes the n’th degree of superb taste. Suffice it to say that this “Ritz” lived up to its name. Oh yes, please do remember to tell them Joseph sent you, for it may mean another piece of goose!
The Ritz, 880 Newport Beach Drive, Newport Beach, 92660, (949) 720-1800
They advertise: “The perfect place to celebrate occasions to remember.” I agree!