Dive into a new BALEENkitchen in Redondo

New year … new look and menu.

Think of it as a staycation for locals and a respite for out-of-towners, business travelers or those returning home to see family during the holidays. With spectacular harborside views, the distinct “away-from-home” experience at The Portofino Hotel & Marina is part of the allure.

As part of the Noble House brand, the Redondo Beach property recently got a major reboot to its signature restaurant, BALEENkitchen. The venue maintains a few signature popular dishes on their menu, including the cashew graham crust and vanilla bean cream key lime pie developed in 1999 with owner Pat Colee, along with other familiar items such as the cioppino, ahi and lobster mac ‘n’ cheese.

The harborside restaurant’s revamped décor sets the scene with a stylish, lighter, brighter feel. The vibe is sleek yet comfortable with banquette booths and fireside seating. The newer, posh, designer ambience retains the contemporary coastal inspiration that also drives the menu.

Abundant seafood offerings can be ordered from all three on-property restaurants: BALEENkitchen, BALEENlounge and The Living Room. With waterside views, regular musical entertainment and social events on the schedule, out-of-town guests and locals alike can find the perfect “neighborhood spot” that feels like a true dining destination.


The Portofino has two chefs de cuisine on staff overseeing the new restaurant menus. The collaborative effort is yielding some interesting and tasty culinary creations. The end game is a creative team working in harmony to produce the best overall dining experience.

The heart of their current culinary ambition is “food for the soul,” with scratch-made ingredients that satisfy the senses. Imagine California-style cuisine with a global, multicultural culinary influence threaded throughout the chef-driven menus and culinary-focused experiences, such as wine-paired dinners.

Chef Vasili Tavernakis’ fresh seasonal creations and warm hospitality likely draw on his Greek heritage. He wants the food to make you happy and exudes a feeling of “come, sit, eat.”

He received his formal training and degree from Le Cordon Bleu in Pasadena. He was also at the forefront of the Manhattan Beach dining scene working alongside Chef David Lefevre as sous chef at Manhattan Beach Post and other Simms Restaurant Group establishments such as Fishing with Dynamite and The Arthur J.

The kitchen was calling, so he left behind a buttoned-up tech career to battle braising, sautéing, and any and all facets of kitchen culture. He took a leap of faith to follow his passion and never looked back.

Chef Paul Dinulescu brings his Romanian “made from scratch” tradition and his European Michelin restaurant experience with a touch of what might be called “urban-ethnic London.” Think subtle Indian spices and fresh local product comingled with French European technique, where the importance of ingredients, pairings and flavors are nurtured and respected.

He is enthusiastic when speaking about the restaurants’ own mushroom forager and their trusted vendor partners such as Santa Monica Seafood. He appreciates the relationships and quality product that their vendors bring to the culinary experience.

Both chefs look to craft a memorable dining experience with attention to detail in each creation. They are striving for customer engagement that will spark a new passion for South Bay dining. The sentiment is: Tell us what you like and how can we make it better; we are listening.

It’s not just about creating new, fresh, seasonal dishes but about cementing a relationship with customers that makes them come back. It’s about finding the balance between delicious food served in an inviting environment that feels exclusive—maybe even like a getaway—yet is actually a short drive from anywhere in the South Bay.

In passionate pursuit of upping the chef-focused menu, they proudly offer a unique, 10-person chef’s table set in the kitchen—right in the action—and a private dining area with spectacular harbor views. It’s certain to be a favorite for special occasions, and no doubt these two chefs will graciously tempt your palate with pleasing kitchen creations.

On the whole, The Portofino’s updated look and curated restaurant offerings feel fresh and interesting. With the holidays approaching, The Portofino Hotel & Marina provides boutique luxury lodging for visitors and is a local destination where you can celebrate the season with several dining experiences that will take the pressure off holiday entertaining.

260 Portofino Way in Redondo Beach  |  310-372-1202  |  hotelportofino.com

Join the Southbay Community

Receive the latest stories, event invitations, local deals and other curated content from Southbay.
By clicking the subscribe button, I agree to receive occasional updates from Southbay.