This Refreshed Balboa Restaurant Depicts the Seaside Villages of the Italian Riviera

Perched on the water’s edge sits Balboa Bay Resort’s signature dining destination, A+O Restaurant | Bar. What once served as a casual place for light bites and good views is now a sophisticated, full-service restaurant with fresh decor, live entertainment and a reimagined menu. But guests and Bay Club members can breathe easy, as the “new” A+O has retained its renowned seafood selection and oceanfront views (phew!). 

When it came to creating that waterfront “wow” factor, interior designer Shannon Cook brought her A-game. Drawing inspiration from her travels to Portofino, Italy, her vision for the new space stemmed from her love for the Italian Riviera’s quaint seaside villages. The refreshed A+O reflects the charm of the Riviera with a palette of crisp whites, oceanic blues and playful pops of yellow. “The restaurant is much brighter,” says Marina Dutton, general manager of Balboa Bay Resort. “We’ve brightened up the space with elements like white-washed wood and shades of nautical blues.”

The Balboa Bay Resort team used the pandemic closures and restrictions to execute this design refresh in an effort to come back more refined than ever. “We even refreshed the lobby!” says Dutton. “So when you enter, you get the coastal feel from the time you walk in to the time you sit down to eat.” Step outside and you’ll find an expansive wrap-around patio with striped umbrellas, white resin stone tables, wicker chairs and a smattering of fire pits. “Now more than ever, people gravitate towards outdoor dining, and we are very fortunate to have an abundance of patio seating,” shares Dutton. 

But whatever draws you in, may it be the sweeping bayfront views or the Insta-worthy interior, A+O has truly made its name on its selection of fresh, flavorful seafood. And spearheading the creativity in the kitchen is Executive Chef Octavio Sabado, whose hospitality experience in LA has led him down the coast to beautiful Newport Beach. “Coming down to Orange County is different because it is a culture shock in terms of food. The dining scene is very different here,” says Chef Sabado. “We are kind of experimenting to see what resonates with our A+O guests.”

In terms of menu specifics, diners will find an assortment of scratch-made dishes like Scottish salmon, grilled octopus with pineapple, dry-aged ribeye and a signature, Southwest-inspired cuisine. And while the menu will still feature a selection of shareable plates, it will also include larger entrees like these. “We went more upscale with the menu,” explains Chef Sabado. “It’s not necessarily fine dining, but we are a scratch kitchen.”

To round out the menu, A+O will continue to offer 10 new cocktails every season. Right now, guests can order crafty concoctions like “The Vaccine,” which is smoked with dry ice and served in a beaker glass, or the “Mariposa,” served in a martini glass and has an edible butterfly on it! “They all have a bit of showmanship to them,” says Chef Sabado. “We have a cocktail server that is trained to craft different kinds of smoked cocktails. She offers a variety of whiskies, herbs and flavors, and she will smoke it right in front of you!”

Ready to dine? Us too! The all-new A+O Restaurant | Bar is eager to please your palate. Make your reservation today and experience this refreshed culinary concept for yourself! 

A+O Restaurant | Bar
1221 W Coast Hwy
Newport Beach, CA 92663
949.630.4285
@aokitchenandbar

Photography Provided By: Baldemar Fierro

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