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Gnocchi and Other Goodies, Plus Szechwan on a Diet

August 23, 1990|BEVERLY BUSH SMITH

Newport North, the new shopping center at Bison Avenue and MacArthur Boulevard in Newport Beach, adds two restaurants to the local scene. Marco Polo's three Italian chefs--Massimo Trombini and brothers Antonio and Vincenzo Romeo--focus on northern Italian cuisine, specializing in pizzas, breads and sandwiches from the wood burning oven and fresh pastas, all made on the premises. Highlights include gnocchi in Gorgonzola-rosemary sauce; spinach and chicken pizzas and Massimo's favorite salad: charbroiled chicken breast with goat cheese, hearts of palm and roasted bell peppers. Pastas are $6.95 to $15.95 at this casual restaurant. Trombini is part owner with a corporation (which owns another Marco Polo in Dallas) and with Doug Smith of the Rams and Jeff Rutledge of the Washington Redskins. And Lloyd Newton, president of Marco Polo, plans to build more restaurants in California. Marco Polo is open from 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Sunday through Thursday; till 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Reservations for four or more: (714) 721-0801.

Cathay Newport, also in the Newport North shopping center, specializes in Mandarin and Szechwan cuisine. But with over 200 offerings, the menu also lists a Pritikin section: a variety of vegetable, seafood and chicken dishes, all steamed and prepared without oil, starch or sugar. MSG is not used in any of the restaurant's dishes. Takeout and catering are available. The second venture for David Leing, who also owns Cathay Palisades in Pacific Palisades, Cathay Newport is open daily from 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. (714) 759-3388.

Earlier this summer, when I found a fresh lobster dinner for $12.95 in Boothbay Harbor, Me., I was ecstatic. Now there's ecstasy for lobster lovers right here in Orange County--a $12.95 fresh Maine lobster dinner at the Marriott hotels in Irvine and Newport Beach. The live lobsters, flown in daily, weigh a pound and a quarter, and the dinner includes vegetable, potatoes, rolls and butter. On Sept. 15, the offering expands to four other Orange County hotels: the Marriotts in Anaheim and Fullerton and the Marriott Suites in Newport Beach and Costa Mesa. Currently it's available in Newport Center (900 Newport Center Drive), (714) 640-4000, and in Irvine (18000 Von Karman Ave.), (714) 553-0100. Incidentally, last year in a similar promotion, Marriott hotels in Southern California sold 22,000 lobsters--which must keep those lobster boats I saw in Maine mighty busy!

Opened this summer in a former wine shop/deli in Seal Beach is Papillon, serving continental fare in an intimate setting. Lunch selections ($4.95 to $9.95) include a crab and avocado salad and hamburgers prepared with a blend of spices. Complete dinners ($10.95 to $45.95 for two) feature chateaubriand and rack of lamb. Owner Barbara Tahvildari formerly owned Primrose on West Boulevard in Seal Beach. Papillon, open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and till 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, is at 143 Main St., Seal Beach; (213) 493-2437.

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