We arrived at Navio, named for the Portuguese ships that first sailed to Half Moon Bay in the 1800s, ready for a hearty meal. After a day of traveling and nothing to eat since breakfast we sacrificed a late lunch for a 45-minute massage at the Ritz spa. From the moment we arrived, we felt welcome and anticipated a pleasant dinner. We spent a delightful evening sampling the chef’s specialties, well paired by Michael, a perceptive and patient wine steward, at this beautiful restaurant by the sea. We relaxed watching an artistic sunset from our window facing table which had a memorable view of the hotel ’s golf course and Pacific Ocean .
Our multiple course meal was satisfying and well presented. The service was a match for the meal. Tim, our waiter was ever present and understanding of special requests. A combination of an elegant yet unpretentious setting with a nautical theme, the opportunity to enjoy a tasting menu while contemplating a California sunset, multiple savory courses, varied wines and outstanding service made Navio worth a star in our constellation. We look forward to a visit to Navio when we are in the Half Moon Bay area in the future.
About The Executive Chef
A native of the Savoie area of France, this fifth generation restaurateur is also the fourth in his family to earn the title Maitre Cuisinier de France
(French Master Chef) in June 2004. Prior to joining the Ritz Carlton Hotel Company in 1991, chef Salomon worked with Jo Rostang at this Michelin three star restaurant La Bonne Auberge. He also worked at Le Bateau Ivre in Courcheval and graduated from the Thonon les Bains Culinary Academy . Before his arrival in Half Moon Bay he worked as executive chef in Ritz-Carlton properties in Aspen and Atlanta .
Chef De Cuisine Peter Rudolph who trained with Ritz-Carlton chefs Gunter Seeger, Joel Antunes and Troy Thomson, specializes in California coastal cuisine.
Established March 2001
Executive Chef Xavier Salomon
Handicapped Access Navio is Americans with Disabilities Act ( ADA) compliant
Owned Strategic Hotel Capital
Pastry Chef William Werner
Size 122 seats
Sommeliers Alaska native Matthew Turner was head sommelier. Assistant Sommelier Michael Vaznaugh paired our wines the night we dined at Navio.
Sous Chefs Cihon Cetinkaya and Greg Vassos (who prepared dinner the night we were there)
Type Of Restaurant French California coastal cuisine, contemporary seafood with a French influence
Decor-Ambiance Navio was decorated in a contemporary American design, featuring beautiful wood paneling and a nautical theme throughout. Tables next to the windows had a scenic view of the property and the Pacific Ocean beyond while the restaurant’s 1,000 square foot open kitchen was the counterpoint to the window display. Navio’s architecture was by Hill Glazier and the interior design by Brayton + Hughes. The mahogany-clad restaurant, with a sweeping ceiling reminiscent of the hull of a great ship, featured nautical motifs and themes throughout, including carpet patterned with abstract rope coils. According to Navio publicists, “A view of the Pacific Ocean is possible from every seat in the restaurant.”
Cellars Wine And Alcoholic Beverage Selection
Diners had more than 500 wines to choose from. We noted a broad selection of choices and plenty of reasonably priced options including champagne and wine by the glass, vintage and unusual wines and champagne. There was an excellent assortment in all price ranges in the 24-page wine list. For example, there was a 1964 Dom Perignon oenoteque, a 2004 Sula, Naslik from India , and a 2002 Slovenia Movia. On more extravagant grounds there was a 1945 Chateau Lafite Rothcild 1er cru classe ($4350) and a three liter Dom Perignon ($2500).
Special Menus A Tasting Menu was available seven days a week for lunch and dinner, and dishes varied with the season. The restaurant’s coastal cuisine menu specialties were available for lunch ($40 and an extra $22 for a wine supplement), and $85 (with $61 wine supplemental) for dinner, exclusive of tax and gratuity.
For two weeks every October as part of the Half Moon Bay Art & Pumpkin Festival, Navio chefs create a dinner Pumpkin Tasting Menu, which utilizes a dizzying variety of pumpkins, all grown in Half Moon Bay.
Meal First a glass of bubbly (Moet & Chandon Brut Imperial Rose) to celebrate the end of another sunny California day. Our tasting menu began with a marvelous Dungeness Crab Salad with parsnip puree and Asian pear and a pale 2003 Neil Ellis Chardonnay from Stellenbosch ( South Africa ). Next was a lovingly prepared crispy Hawaiian Moi (reminded us of red snapper) with brown rice and avocado salad; followed by a playful Chilled Beef Salad with cucumber, potato salad and caraway yogurt accompanied by a 2001 Willakenzie Estate, Pinot, Noir from the Willamette Valley. The next level in the crescendo of flavors was Halibut cheeks with potato carpaccio, poached egg and lobster. The peak of the salty courses was the Braised Short Rib with creamy potato puree, asparagus and bordelaise sauce well suited to the 2001 Lancastar Estate, proprietary blend from Alexander Valley . Tim, our waiter, was a cheese connoisseur and encouraged us to try a cheese course: L Edel De Cleron with a cleansing mushroom raisin salad paired with a 1997 Grahams O Porto. Just when we were ready to surrender, our Ginger Caramel Pot de crème with coconut ice cream and 2000 Jean Thevenet Cuvee Botrytis arrived. It was an excellent ending to a most satisfying evening.
Recipient of 2003-2005 AAA Four Diamond Award, San Francisco Chronicle three stars for food and three and a half stars for service in 2003 and named by Food & Wine magazine “one of the nations top 50 hotel restaurants” in 2003.
The Chef’s Table, adjacent to the kitchen, offered an evening for two to 10 guests to experience a customized menu, interacting with Chef Rudolph, Sommelier Matthew Turner and Pastry Chef William Werner throughout the evening. Chef’s Table fees: $1000 for up to 10 guests, exclusive of wine, tax and gratuity.
Date Of Review
Reviewers Article and Photos by Elena del Valle
Service Outstanding ! It seemed there was a whole army looking after us though in reality there was one waiter and a total of about six staff following our progress from one course to another.
Would You Dine Eat There Again-Recommend It? Yes