Prominent residents around Newport share what they love best about their piece of paradise.– By Lisa Marie Har
Newport Beach Magazine recently chatted with residents from around the city to find out why they live where they live, and to ask for their favorite places to play, dine and shop. While each raved about the boutiques, restaurants and outdoor recreation right outside their doors, most cited their neighbors as the main attraction. That’s why you’ll often find them entertaining around a barbecue on the patio or lounging poolside with a view of the bay. Home with family and friends is hands-down their favorite place to while away a balmy Newport Beach evening. From California transplants to those who have never lived elsewhere else, each one shines with an active passion for supporting their neighborhood. Their personal hot spots show just that.
Nancy Gardner: City Council Member and Mayor
Corona del Mar
Favorite restaurant: Mayur Cuisine of India, a low-lit North Indian gem. “I don’t go out and eat what I can cook at home; this is definitely something I can’t duplicate.”
To stay fit: Launching her paddleboard from China Cove and “toodling” around the harbor before running at Big Corona.
Top shops: Newly opened Vin Goat for unusual cheeses; ever-practical Crown Ace Hardware, antidote to big box stores
Why CdM? “I grew up around here, but have lived enough other places to know how great it is. I love that I can walk to the market, library, post office, hardware store, soon to the theater and to the beach.”
Chris Brigandi: Founding partner, Arbor Real Estate Professionals; Managing Partner, A Restaurant and A Market
Favorite eats (beyond his own): 930 Sushi and Cucina Alessa.
On any given day: Enjoying life on the beach with wife Christy, their five kids and friends. “We keep an open-door policy, so there tends to be a lot of sand in our house—but we love it.”
Top shop: Hurley, for board shorts and its inspiring H20 program, a global initiative for clean water.
Neighborhood event: “Alley parties. Boys throwing baseballs, shooting baskets and riding skateboards, girls drawing in chalk, braiding hair and painting nails, and the adults sitting around the barbecue with a glass of wine or lemonade.”
Why West Newport? A passion for surf culture, supporting local business and deep roots. “My great grandmother bought a house here in the late 1930s, and I just love it,” Chris says. “We’re all water people. When we do leave on vacation, we usually visit another beach.”
Marc Schneider and Elena Zaretsky: Partner at Stradling Yocca Carlson & Rauth
Top chef: Massimo Navarretta at Onotria and his on-site garden.
To stay fit: Biking or jogging in the Back Bay with daughters Sabina, 6, and Mila, 2.
Top shop: A’maree’s, formerly in Eastbluff. “I’m still a devoted follower,” Elena says.
At night: SideDoor for creative food, an excellent charcuterie and a changing list of hard-to-find craft brews.
Neighborhood events: Annual pumpkin-carving party (25-plus years strong); annual Fourth of July water balloon fight. “It takes hours to fill the balloons, but only 20 minutes for dozens of children to soak their parents!”
Why EastBluff? It’s near Fashion Island where they work, the beach and only seven minutes from door-to-gate at John Wayne Airport for easy, frequent travel. “It’s a true neighborhood filled with young families and old traditions,” Elena says.
Paige A. Van Rensselaer-Kunkle: Owner/Designer, Posey Couture
For a romantic dinner: The Dock. Also fun for lunch with “the girls” is Haute Cakes.
Best neighborhood margaritas: El Matador.
To stay fit: Biking to the beach, riding horses and encouraging her daughter who rides with Shefmire Sport Horses.
Top shops: The Cove, Promelis Westcliff Market, Where’s the Party, Urban Gardener.
Beauty best bet: The Nail Lounge; Holiday Salon.
Why Dover Shores? It has a private feel without the guarded gate. “It’s well-established and very eclectic. From Fourth of July parades, Easter egg hunts, Halloween parties and snow delivered to volleyball courts and the Newport Aquatic Center for workouts, crewing and standup paddling, it offers so much.”
Lindsay Lawrence: Chief Banking Officer, Opus Bank; Founding Board Member of Hoag Hospital’s Mary & Dick Allen Diabetes Center
Favorite eats: Pain Du Monde for the best Arnold Palmers in OC; Rose Bakery Café for breakfast burritos.
To stay fit: Walks around the neighborhood with husband, Chris, baby Addison and their two dogs.
Top shop: Jack’s Surf Shop, where her little sis manages her favorite weekend wear.
At night: “If we do venture out, it’s to Quiet Woman or Crow Bar.”
Why Cameo? An ideal place to raise a family, minutes from walking and running the Crystal Cove trails and the charm of downtown CdM. “We have lovely neighbors, ample sidewalks, two parks, access to three unique beaches, plus the gorgeous ocean, canyon and Pelican Hill golf course views.”
Sergio Avila: Owner, Avila’s El Ranchito Mexican Restaurants (three: Newport Beach, Corona del Mar, Huntington Beach)
Newport Beach Peninsula
Favorite eats: Blackie’s for ice-cold beer and a sandwich; fresh menudo at El Ranchito’s weekend brunch and Sol Grill for home-style dishes, live weekend music and running into someone you know.
To stay fit: Surfing, bike riding and paddleboarding. “I love riding my bike to work; once I even paddleboarded. Everyone was surprised to see me barefoot in board shorts with wind-blown hair ready for the day’s action.”
Top food stops: Bear Flag Fish Co.; Sunday farmers market on Lido. “To this day, my parents come down from CdM on Sundays to enjoy the fresh fish at Crab Cooker.”
Why the Peninsula? It has an active, laid-back lifestyle with an unpretentious vibe. “Business owners, retirees and college students surf the same break and cruise the boardwalk together,” Sergio says. “Since I was a kid, I dreamed of living at the beach. I opened my first restaurant on the Peninsula in the early ’70s and haven’t left. I feel so fortunate to call Newport home.”
Terry and Heather Dubrow: Plastic Surgeon, Terry J. Dubrow, M.D.
“Real Housewives of Orange County” Cast Member
Favorite eats: Sabatino’s. “Best sausage ever! And authentically Newport Beach, just sitting outside with friends,” Heather says. “We also love The Beachcomber for lunch so the kids can run around in the sand.”
To stay fit: Year-round hiking at El Moro Canyon, plus the beaches at Emerald Bay and Little Corona.
Top shops: South Coast Plaza. “The kids love to ride the carousel and get balloons.”
Why Newport Coast? It’s beautiful and peaceful with genuine neighbors, making it a great place to raise kids.
Jon Birer: Owner, Charlie’s Locker
Top shops: Lido Village Books, Blackman Ltd. Jewelers.
To stay fit: Tennis and walking the track at Newport Harbor High School. “If anyone wants to meet me there and chat and walk, feel free,” Jon says. “Everywhere I go, I get a little crowd going.”
Just for fun: Cruising around the harbor in an electric boat.
Why Lido? It’s an “old-school place like Mayberry” where you can trust your neighbors. “Lido Island retains the soul of the city with its long-time landmarks.”
Seymour Beek: President, Balboa Island Ferry (Retired, Aerospace Industry)
Favorite eats: Amelia’s, Harborside, Newport Landing, Park Avenue Café and Picante Martins.
To stay fit: Sailing, paddle kayaking, walking the perimeter of the islands and swimming.On the social scene: Belongs to Newport Harbor Yacht Club and enjoys invitations to Balboa Yacht Club.
At night: The Village Inn or movies at The Lido.
Why Balboa Island? Born and raised in Newport, Seymour lived in various parts of town before moving back into his parents’ house. “The houses are close together, and I have a constant procession of people out front. I get to know some of them; it’s very social and friendly. Much of my life centers around boating and the water. As an island, it’s perfect.”
Jon and Kati Robertson : Attorney, Robertson, Johnson & Olsen – Homemaker (Former VP, Wells Fargo Private Banking)
Favorite eats: Tommy Bahama, Big Canyon Country Club and Gulfstream for burgers and lemon meringue pie.
Top shops: Pavilions (friendly staff, great steaks, fresh produce), Gelson’s (for its deli and homemade fruit bars), Sprinkles Cupcakes and Sur la Table.
Why Harbor Ridge? It’s a quiet, private beauty and custom homes built per the owners’ needs (as opposed to a theme) are perfect for this family and their 14-year-old triplets. “From the gate guards to our neighbors, we all look out for one another like extended family,” Kati says.
Laura Davick: Founder, Crystal Cove Alliance
Favorite eats: The new deck at Ruby’s Shake Shack where she worked as a teen.
To stay fit: Going down to “first rocks” to explore the swimming holes and tide pools.
At night: Spending the night in a beach cottage; walking across the car bridge listening to hundreds of frogs in Los Trancos Creek “It’s like an orchestra!”
Neighborhood event: Annual Crystal Cove beach gala in September.
Why Crystal Cove? Four generations of her family have culled a lifelong love affair with this enclave that now includes a mission of conservation. Far beyond the cottages and The Beachcomber, “we’re developing new educational programs that invite people to peel the onion back and look a little deeper.”
Tim Stoaks: Senior Manager of Construction and Facilities Engineer, Allergan
Santa Ana Heights
Favorite restaurant: Villa Nova Restaurant.
To stay fit: Riding horses with his 14-year-old daughter, Morgan.
Top shop: Irvine Ranch Market.
Why Santa Ana Heights? It’s an equestrian neighborhood with a rural feel where the kids ride horses together. “Our front yard is the Back Bay where we see bobcats, hawks and coyotes,” Tim explains. “Our neighbors at Newport Beach Vineyards & Winery throw nonprofit parties in their wine cave. It’s one of the city’s little jewels.” NBM