taste Buds

Newport Beach’s Bluewater Grill Got a Million-Dollar Facelift; Here’s What It Looks Like Now

Dockside Dining, Fresh Seafood and a Renovated Look—See You at Bluewater Grill!

With over 25 years in business, Bluewater Grill has been providing fresh, wild-caught seafood to the Newport Beach community. This locally owned and operated gem prides itself on serving sustainable seafood as well as dishes that cater to everyone. Located in the heart of Newport Beach, this waterfront seafood haven is home to some of Orange County’s best sea-to-table plates, ranging from New Orleans gumbo to oysters on the half shell. Whether it’s family night or you’re in need of a date out with your beau, here are five reasons to head to the newly remodeled Bluewater Grill in Newport Beach. Jim Ulcickas and Rick Staunton


Rooted in History

Co-founders Rick Staunton and Jim Ulcickas

Founded in 1996 by partners Jim Ulcickas and Rick Staunton, Bluewater Grill has been a local hotspot serving fan favorites like their famous New England clam chowder and beer-battered fish and chips. “Growing up in Massachusetts, I’ve always been a seafood lover. That’s why Bluewater Grill specializes in quality ingredients and fresh fish,” co-owner Ulcickas says. The restaurant now has eight locations with six residing on the water. “Our mission is really to serve fantastic food to our community and be a place where you can sit back, relax and enjoy the craft we put into our dishes,” Ulcickas says.

Dock and Dine

Credit: Palm + Ocean

To sweeten the deal even more, Bluewater Grill caters to boaters as well. Guests can dock their boats at their private restaurant dock—and if that’s full, there’s a public dock only a few feet from the restaurant—making Bluewater Grill the perfect spot for a fun afternoon on the bay. And if you don’t feel like leaving the comfort of your own boat, don’t fret; you’ve heard of curbside delivery, but Bluewater Grill offers dockside delivery, meaning they’ll bring your food directly to your boat. Serving your boat party a seafood spread or a chocolate lava cake is only a phone call or online order away! 

Jim Ulcickas and Rick Staunton

Refreshed Dining Room and Bar

The reopened and recently remodeled dining room and bar are sites to see. This freshed venue still retains some of Bluewater Grill’s original charm but now has a more modern twist. “Since we renewed our lease for another 20 years, we decided to update our Newport Beach location without changing the casual vibe we’re known for.” They’ve added some fun features to their bar, including now tapping their own draft beers. High Spot Blonde, Pale Ale and Amber Ale are now all brewed exclusively at their eight locations. With a heated patio and waterfront view, you couldn’t ask for a better spot to hang out with the gang no matter what time of year. 

Their Own Fishing Boat

PILIKIA, meaning “trouble” in Hawaiian, is Bluewater Grill’s custom-built fishing boat that’s equipped with its own swordfish harpoon and deep drop buoy. “You can usually find our PILIKIA floating around anywhere from the Gulf of Mexico to north of the Channel Islands fishing for swordfish in the height of the summer season,” Ulcickas says. “Everything else we source comes from other companies that obtain our standards of freshness.” While their fishing boat doesn’t capture all fish served at their eight locations, this method of gaining supply truly exemplifies the meaning of “boat-to-plate” freshness. With the PILIKIA and longstanding partnerships with local fishermen, Bluewater Grill’s commitment to sustainability is unmatched and worthy of reverence.

Jim Ulcickas and Rick Staunton

Sustainability is Key

We mentioned that PILIKIA specializes in sustainable fishing, but here’s what makes Bluewater Grill stand out amongst other seafood restaurants. Most fishing boats use nets that are highly destructive to the environment because they capture not only endangered species but large mammals too. What makes Bluewater Grill more sustainable than other seafood restaurants is their method of using harpoons and deep-water buoys instead. The fisherman of Bluewater Grill selectively hunts and harvests mature swordfish and processes them immediately. The fish is then placed in onboard refrigerators and rapidly sent to the restaurants the same day. This method is not only highly sustainable but also presents the freshest fish on the market, which demonstrates their dedication to eco-conscious practices. 

Jim Ulcickas and Rick Staunton

Bluewater Grill
630 Lido Park Dr
Newport Beach, CA 92663

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Noelle Dahl graduated from Sonoma State University in 2020 with a BA in English. Currently living in Huntington Beach, Noelle spends her days throwing pottery, combing the beach for seashells or planning her next adventure.
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