Sabatino's getting a second spot

NEWPORT BEACH — Anyone who has been here will probably gush about the Sabatino's Sausage Co. Italian sausage and its savory goat cheese filling. When asked for directions to the restaurant, the same person could be at a loss for words.

That may soon change, as the popular Lido Peninsula restaurant tucked away in an obscure shipyard plans to open a new location just off Newport Boulevard.

Owner Peter Sabatino would like to serve beachgoers and residents from a new takeout spot at 406 32nd St., across from City Hall. It would serve sausage sandwiches and pizza, among other items, for under $10. Sabatino says he's hoping to have it open before the holidays.

"The visibility we'll have there is nice," he said.

But conscious of his loyal following, Sabatino didn't want to make the impression that he was selling out to tourists. "It's mainly for the neighborhood," he said.

The company is targeting beachgoers and others during the summer who just want to grab a bite to eat, Sabatino said. While he's considering limited delivery by golf cart, he is planning to initially just have it set up for takeout, equipped with about 12 to 15 seats.

Sandwich buns will be custom-made from C'est Si Bon Bakery, another Newport institution. With a hole pre-cut, the crusty French bread makes just enough room for some sausage and red sauce.

"It's another way to make sausage that's really fun to eat," said Sabatino, adding that it can be eaten on the go.

His current sit-down restaurant has a large patio and hand-painted murals in multiple dining rooms. Customers come from near and far.

Two gentlemen from San Diego were dining Monday afternoon on the patio. They made a special trek to Sabatino's.

"Anytime I'm near the area," one of them said, "I make it to Sabatino's."

The restaurant draws a close following, and patrons would prefer to keep the place un-crowded, Sabatino says: "A lot of them get real personal about it; they don't want the notoriety."

He's been in the Lido Shipyard location for 20 years. In the early 1990s, Sabatino's son opened a takeout spot in Lido Marina Village. It lasted less than a year, Sabatino said, because he was unable to get permits for an oven. They had to bring hot sausages from the shipyard restaurant.

Lesson learned, he applied for a permit from the city in October and has ordered massive pizza ovens for the new place, Sabatino said. Also, he's designing a subtle neon sign that could be seen from Newport Boulevard.

"But word of mouth is your best advertisement," he said.

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