Around the World on Balboa Island

Who knew that you could travel the world by just strolling down Marine Ave.? Sure the charming street is lined with beach-inspired boutiques and all-American ice cream shops, but more daring travelers can be transported to all sorts of far-off places through local island shops and restaurants.

Mediterranean

Pas.tu Restaurant – If you want a menagerie of countries to visit, try Pas.tu. This quaint restaurant serves a menu of French, Greek, Italian and Mediterranean food. The name Pas.tu is Farsi for cozy, tiny spot hidden with treasure which is exactly what this jewel of a restaurant is. Try: The Mediterranean Platter featuring hummus, dolmado and tatsiki.

France

Basilic – This fine dining establishment only seats 24 people which means you need to make reservations now for your wedding anniversary in November. The menu changes daily and includes authentic dishes inspired by France and Switzerland. Try: Coq au Vin – Braised chicken breast, egg noodle and Burgundy wine.

Italy

These places are perfect for channeling your inner Mama Mia! and reveling in all that is Italian.

Amelia’s – A Balboa Island legend, Amelia’s has been serving up Italian fare since 1961. The founder, Amelia Seton shared her home recipes from Capri where she was born and raised. Her children now run the family business and has been an island favorite ever since.

Ciao – The most casual of all the Italian eateries on the island, Ciao has all the staples like pasta, pizza and those addicting Italian desserts. Perfect for walk-in “I’m hungry now” eating and has outside seating too for good people watching.

Barolo by the Sea – This restaurant is pure Italian. The full bodied wine that bears the restaurant’s name is one of the many Italian varietals on their extensive wine list. Mostly Northern Italian cuisine, their tiramisu is some of the best in Orange County.

A’maree’s on the Island – This smaller, yet still uber-fashionable clothing store is the little sister to A’maree’s on Coast Highway. Their high end European labels like Balenciaga are elevating the dress code in Newport from beachy casual to beachy chic.

Japan

Hakone – The eat-in or take out sushi place is small, but do not let the size full you. Their popular Sushi Boxes are taking Balboa by storm. They don’t serve sake their like most sushi places, but I’m sure you’ll get over it once you see how affordable the prices are and how generous in size the rolls are.

Mexico

Picante Martins – A local favorite, this Mexican eatery has a wide range of specialties including an exceptional Cubano sandwich. They also serve breakfast burritos. The décor is like stepping into an authentic Mexico City restaurant. Paper currency from all over the world is hung like wallpaper and they serve non-alcoholic sangria soda.

China

Shanghai Pine Garden – You don’t even have to go inside this restaurant to feel like you have stepped into China. The inside décor hasn’t changed much since the 70s and good thing, its rich red-orange interior is a fantastical tribute to the old Chinatowns of Los Angeles and San Francisco. Daily lunch specials make this a hotspot.

Napa Valley

Olive Oil & Beyond – You could be transported to Italy at OOB, but the selection of dried pastas, olive oils and balsamic are reminiscent of the tiny boutiques in Napa that sell items to compliment your bottle of wine. Plus. OOB has tastings of their olive oil here just like the wineries in Napa.

Palm Beach

Ornate at Home – This modern and vibrant home décor shop is so Palm Beach meets Palm Springs. Mid-century modern minimalist with pops of bright color can be seen in decorative pillows, lamps and chairs.

Martha’s Vineyard

Martha’s Bookstore – Instantly be taken away to the East Coast at this intimate bookstore which has a very laid back, yet Cape Cod sort of feel. Come in and sip on tea or wine, waiting for guests as they enter. I already feel like a Kennedy!