It was the kind of enchanting confluence of refined cuisine and breathtaking ambiance that could only result in a magical evening at Navio restaurant. The evening’s allure began with a chance meeting of the Chef de Cuisine Jason Pringle in the stately restaurant inside the Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay. The California native is back in the Bay Area after working in the top restaurants in New York and Florida, under the tutelage of Michelin-starred chefs such as Daniel Boulud, Laurent Manrique and Michael Mina.
“I am very interested in developing relationships with the local farmers and fisherman in Half Moon Bay,” says Pringle, who uses local fresh ingredients for his farm-to-table menu. “When I first arrived, I took walks around the property and discovered edible plants and wild strawberries right outside our doorsteps.”
At Navio, Pringle combines his culinary pedigree with the region’s agricultural and seafood bounty. He creates the menu and is hands-on in the open kitchen to help turn out classic French renditions of his signature seafood dishes. He is supported by an experienced team, headed by Director of Restaurants Matthew Rowland and his staff. My server was Benny, who listened to my preferences and expertly offered spot-on recommendations.
For starter, the Spagetti Chitarra with handmade al dente pasta was perfectly cooked. The Dungeness crab meat with the lemon-laced butter sauce and fennel shavings melded seamlessly with the pasta. For our entrée, Benny suggested the Black Cod with Serrano ham, artichoke and fava beans. The delicate cod was infused in a deliciously refined herb marinade. The crispy skin added a tasty crunch to the buttery texture. My friend’s dish, the Diver Scallops seared with pork belly and puree with a dash of mint was stunningly delicious. Benny, who has been at Navio more than a decade, took time to describe each dish in detail when delivering them to the table. I appreciated the leisure pace at which the dishes arrive. We had time to enjoy the food and conversation while admiring the ocean view and the elegant wood interiors.
I was charmed by one of the desserts on the menu: The Strawberry Fields, a garden of pink strawberry and pale greens with sweet and fruity flavors and textures. This has become one of my favorite desserts of all time.
Chef Pringle’s attention is not only in the kitchen. At the end of the evening, he can often be seen in the dining room, dressed in his chef’s jacket, perusing each table and speaking with his guests. When dining at a hotel, one never knows what to expect. At Navio, one can count on Chef Pringle and his team to offer exceptional service and exquisite seasonal dishes that let the freshness of the ingredients shine at this fine restaurant.