The year started off with a bang with Dine Newport Beach kicking off yesterday and running for two weeks, ending on February 1st. I decided to choose a restaurant I’d never been to, let alone heard of. When I saw Nesai on the list, I thought it was a Japanese restaurant, but was surprised to find that it is an Italian restaurant.
The prix fixe for Dine Newport Beach consists of a 4-course meal for $40. There are three choices for appetizer and entree with a salad course in between.
House-made foccacia with house-churned and whipped butter arrives. It is light and fluffy.
We choose Pork Belly as one of the appetizers and I was happy to find that it is a nice texture — rendered through with a lovely crispy exterior. The sauce has a little hint of sweetness which is very agreeable and works well with the meat.
Our other choice of Seared Scallops with Sweet Potato Ravioli is a generous portion (full portion I’m told) and offers the pasta with scallops in a very garlicky sauce. Presentation needed a bit of work, but we loved the sauce so much we wiped the plate clean with the house-made foccacia from the bread basket.
The next course, a Caesar Salad, is made unique by the fried capers it is topped with. I loved the briny taste and crispy texture. A really simple, yet great way to up the ante with a salad.
Chicken Piccata is always a safe bet and again, the portion is very generous. The lemon caper butter sauce is not too thick and quite nice. I liked how there was enough of it to go around, especially when mashed potatoes are involved. The buttery broccoli and grean beans are good accompaniments for this dish.
However, it was the Lobster Ravioli which won hands down. The vodka sauce is really good and there were chunks of lobster in the ravioli which made me smile. Usually, I’ll find lobster ravioli filled with a mixture dotted with only small bits of ravioli. This is indeed a rare find.
The meal ends with a house-made Tiramisu & a glass of Tawny Port. Not a fan of tiramisu in general, I’ll have to admit this was one of the best ones I’ve ever tasted.
I polished it off unabashedly and even sent my compliments to Shima, our server, who was so lovely and gave me some history about Nesai. Apparently, her mother owned the restaurant for 14 years, and recently sold it to the new owners who are in the process of renovating the space and turning it into a new restaurant.
I wasn’t wrong when I thought Nesai was a Japanese restaurant — Shima’s mom is Japanese and owned a restaurant Issei (meaning first generation American) before Nesai (possibly a mis-spelling of Nisei, meaning second generation American). I was touched by Shima’s passion and dedication to the restaurant even though her family no longer owns it. If you get a chance, stop by and have a meal before it turns into Arsenal.
217 Riverside Avenue
Newport Beach, CA 92663