New Balboa Peninsula deli blends tradition, trends

The decor in the new Dory Deli includes an old-style fish market look.
(Don Leach, Daily Pilot)

With its extensive craft beer selection, local artisan coffee and traditional East Coast deli fare along with vegan options, Newport Beach’s newest delicatessen is out to prove that “family-friendly” and “trendy” aren’t mutually exclusive concepts.

Dory Deli, near the Newport Pier at 2108 W. Oceanfront — the spot that for decades housed Perry’s Pizza — is set to open at 6 a.m. Monday.

The deli is the brainchild of Mario Marovic and his business partner, Newport Beach resident Andrew Gabriel. Marovic owns several Orange County bars and restaurants, including The District Lounge in Orange and Newport Beach, Hopscotch Tavern in Fullerton and Malarky’s Irish Pub in Newport Beach.

The two men also own Wild Goose Tavern in Costa Mesa and recently purchased another Costa Mesa bar, Pierce Street Annex, which they plan to remodel.

“This deli is a passion project for us,” Gabriel said. “We want to offer something for everyone that walks through the door.”

When the two came up with the idea of opening a deli on the Balboa Peninsula, an area known mostly for its array of seaside pizza parlors and bars, they thought about putting it next to The District Lounge on McFadden Place.

But after Perry’s Pizza closed in February, they decided an ocean-facing deli would be just what the boardwalk needed and that the views would be worth the parking challenges.

“There’s a stigma that parking here always sucks,” Marovic said. “But after Labor Day, it’s just not that bad. There are places to park.”

Dory Deli’s decor of vintage beach photos and old-fashioned nautical gadgets pays homage to the history of Newport Beach. The building is 108 years old, Marovic said.

“I love the history of McFadden Square,” he said. “How do you replicate that history in a business? There’s something nostalgic about being able to do that. It draws people in.”

The restaurant, open from 6 a.m. to about midnight, will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner items.

The menu, featuring salads, sandwiches, burgers, breakfast burritos and bagel sandwiches, blends traditional East Coast Jewish-style deli options with trendy ingredients popular in Southern California.

“The menu is traditional items made with a twist,” said executive chef and General Manager Chris Rubinstein. “We want to blend creativity with the classics.”

Rubinstein, who was born and raised in Philadelphia, drew on his roots when he was developing the menu. He was a vegan for 16 years, giving him an appreciation of vegan fare that is “more than just Portobello mushrooms and eggplant.”

One of his favorites is the Buffalo Mary — a vegan play on a buffalo chicken sub — filled with cauliflower tossed in buffalo sauce, shredded carrots, shaved celery and fresh greens.

“You don’t even miss the chicken,” he said.

More-traditional sandwiches include the Rocky Balboa, a Philadelphia-style steak sandwich with caramelized onions, peppers and house-made cheese sauce on a sub roll, and the Scuba Sando, made with the fish of the day, lemon caper aioli and fresh greens.

Dory Deli will have bottled craft sodas, wine and domestic, imported and rotating craft brews, starting with beers from Barley Forge, Mother Earth, Beach City, St. Archer and Ballast Point.

“We don’t want to be pretentious about it,” Marovic said. “If someone wants to come in and order a domestic draft, they’re not going to be shamed for that.”