Newport’s harbor is filled with fishing boats. Bay Street, along the waterfront, abounds with good restaurants that serve what they catch. Ocean Bleu @ Gino’s is one of the few such eateries that serves three meals a day.
Yes, you can breakfast on fried eggs, French toast, or pancakes (accompanied by house-smoked bacon); but locavores will want to go for the likes of smoked salmon Benedict, grilled razor clams with eggs, and the Ocean Bleu scramble, which includes pink shrimp and/or cracked Dungeness crab. To drink: locally roasted coffee, hot apple cider, or a variety of adult beverages that includes bloody Marys, mimosas, and red beer.
For lunch or dinner, you can’t go wrong with fish-n-chips, available with everything from rockfish and wild salmon to popcorn shrimp and luxurious local tuna. Onion rings are made from sweet Walla Wallas. Tiny Yaquina oysters are harvested just upriver; black cod, salmon, and sable are smoked in-house; Dungeness crabs are kept live in a seawater tank; from the crabs come Ocean Bleu’s “sea pups,” which are cornmeal fritters laced with cracked crab and jack cheese.
As for the name of the place, it began as a fish market, called Gino’s. It remains a market as well as a restaurant, the house motto: “Live free, love often, eat wild.”
The bayfront in Newport is where all the action is, split about 50/50 between the fishing industry and the tourist industry. There are plenty of restaurants, including the original Mo’s and a branch across the street, and a couple of locals-only fishermen bars and groceries. At either end of Bay Boulevard sit the best of the seafood restaurants: Local Ocean in the east and the awkwardly named Ocean Bleu @ Gino’s near the western terminus (more about that name later).
Ocean Bleu features wild seafood from their own boat and from other local fishermen, and it shows on the plate. You can begin your meal with some freshly shucked Yaquinas from across the street, or a cracked Dungeness crab. Something they call Sea Pups are very popular here. These are hush puppies with local crab in the batter. We loved the platter of in-house smoked fish, a pricey appetizer that can serve as a meal for two people, along with a bottle of wine. Follow that with a supremely fresh piece of local salmon, halibut, rockfish, black cod, or some razor clams, oysters… the list goes on and on.
Or go for one of the many fish and chips varieties offered, from the low-end (price-wise) calamari, rockfish, albacore, local pink shrimp, or oysters, up to the big spender’s wild halibut. We enjoyed some huge, perfectly cooked prawns. Chips here are sliced and seasoned discs of fried potato. The slaw that comes with your fish-n-chips is not an afterthought throwaway but a fresh and crisp shredded salad in a very light dressing.
Prices are not particularly low, but this is by no means a fancy-pants restaurant, and the quality is high. As usual in restaurants like this, we recommend ordering the items where the good seafood is showcased. The less chefly the ministrations, the better, as far as we’re concerned.
About the name: Gino and Maxine Freson opened Gino’s Fish Market in 1983. They became locally famous for their fish-n-chips and popcorn shrimp. Gino eventually passed on, and in 2010 the restaurant came into the hands of Vanessa and Mike Donovan, who wanted to honor Gino by keeping him in the name of the restaurant. Hence, Ocean Bleu @ Gino’s.