2001 Westcliff Dr.soft Newport Beach, CA 92660 | www.oleanewportbeach.com
“Our menu features exceptionally fresh & seasonal ingredients of the highest quality prepared daily from scratch.”
alifornia is blessed with the Napa and Sonoma Valleys that produce not only world-famous wine selections but also breathtaking rolling plains and unsurpassed beauty. So, it comes as no surprise that restaurant entrepreneur Russ Bendel would want to bring yet another Wine Country inspired establishment to Orange County. Olea in Newport Beach is the third concept in Bendel’s restaurant group, completing an impressive hat-trick with Vine in San Clemente and Ironwood in Laguna Hills.
Upon entering Olea through a flank of two olive trees, guests are blown away by the natural beauty of timeless French white oak doors, clean, soft lines, and a warm, effortless color palette. The Los Angeles based Bitton Design Group crafted an atmosphere that is both upscale and mellow, lending itself to patrons feeling relaxed and at ease.
While all three spots are known for their eclectic seasonal menus and comprehensive, global wine lists, Olea reveals more Mediterranean inspiration, suggested by its name, meaning olive. Like Vine and Ironwood, Olea opens at 5 p.m. daily for dinner, and this summer, their seasonal menu is vibrant with crisp vegetables, indulgent flavors and unique recipes.
Executive Chef and Partner, Jared Cook, reports that with a more substantial kitchen than its sister concepts, and one that was custom designed for the restaurant, he can experiment with and discover new dishes. As a result, Olea has the means to offer signature items that were unable to be executed at Vine and Ironwood due to the limited kitchen space. Specifically, a Pacific Northwest Filet Mignon accompanied by summer truffle & crème fraîche potatoes, farmer’s market vegetables, and crispy langoustine béarnaise is an item that Chef is especially excited to introduce on Olea’s menu.
When guests dine at Olea, they are immersed in the flavors and atmosphere of Wine Country. Chef Jared described this notable profile in one word – fresh. Everything at Olea is made from scratch with only the freshest ingredients. However, what sets these wine bars apart, and makes their ingredients truly fresh, is a bountiful and homegrown garden at Vine that Chef tends himself. A great deal of the produce and spices showcased on the menu are harvested in this garden and brought to the three restaurants for use.
In summer, this prolific garden is likely to be flourishing with anything from Italian parsley, thyme, sage and other spices, to blood orange trees, pink lemons and kumquats. However, the most prominent yield in the summertime is tomatoes. Chef Jared and his green thumb raise a variety of heirloom tomatoes, many with peculiar names like Green Zebras and Buffalo Heart. When ripened, they will add vivid color to the seasonal summer dishes, including a Tuscan-inspired Heirloom Tomato & Watermelon Panzanella paired with sheep’s milk ricotta salata, olive oil croutons and sweet basil pesto. By using homegrown ingredients, Chef focuses on, “… not overcomplicating and overdoing the dishes, but instead, letting them stand out on their own.”
Look beyond the plate when it comes to these herbs, fruits and spices. Gabe Whorley, Beverage Director and Managing Partner, and what we like to call the mastermind behind the bar, also garnishes cocktails with fresh ingredients from the garden. Olea boasts several new signature cocktails including Rich Girl, which is a light, yet complex, blend of rosé wine, vodka, lime, yuzu, basil and St. Elder. Also on the list is the Last One cocktail, which delicately infuses vanilla and orange bitters with bourbon, Drambuie, Lillet Blanc, and a garnish of orange and lemon peel.
A picture-perfect California summer night would include one of these libations in hand, along with a house-made Castroville Artichoke Agnolotti or Kurobuta Short Rib on the way from the kitchen. Whorley also has the task of choosing which wines are featured on their noteworthy wine list. With an excellent balance of both California produced wines and worldwide varieties from Italy, France and Spain, there will be something that every wine connoisseur, sommelier, mom needing to chill, and all other patrons of Olea will enjoy.
Check out their other concepts on Instagram! Vine Restaurant & Bar @vinesanclemente. Ironwood Cellar. Craft. Cook. @ironwoodlagunahills.