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One of LA’s Best Chefs Embarks on a Big New Orange County Journey

Vartan Abgaryan joins one of Newport Beach’s most storied restaurant groups, with plans for expansion to come

An outdoor dining setup with string lights and lots of greenery.
A Restaurant in Newport Beach
A Restaurant

Chef Vartan Abgaryan has found himself a new gig — or, rather, an old gig. The longtime Angeleno, known for rising through the ranks at restaurants like the now-closed Cliff’s Edge and Downtown sky-high dinner spot 71Above, is now heading to Orange County to run one of Newport Beach’s most well-regarded restaurant empires as a corporate executive chef.

The move to join River Jetty Restaurant Group is actually something of a homecoming for Abgaryan, who previously worked with ownership there between 2009 and 2012, much of that spent as executive chef of historic A Restaurant on Coast Highway. The group, run by movie producer Joseph ‘McG’ Nichol and Jordan Otterbein, also runs A Market in Newport Beach and CDM Restaurant and Bar in Corona Del Mar.

Together, Abgaryan and the River Jetty team will open a new, fourth restaurant called A Crystal Cove at the Crystal Cove Shopping Center. Reps for the restaurant tell Eater that the planned project will span from staples like cacio e pepe and spicy yellowfin tuna to a lively bar program that runs well into the evening. A Crystal Cove will open sometime this fall.

The move to Newport Beach is just the latest turn for Abgaryan, who spent much of the past two-plus years opening restaurants on Los Angeles’s broad Westside. Yours Truly, which closed last fall as a result of the pandemic, was Abgaryan’s culinary home, though he also operated — for a time — a parking lot-only restaurant across the street called Post Script on Abbot Kinney. Abgaryan is still involved with modern Mexican restaurant Nueva in Venice, and recently acted as a guest chef in residence at Hotel Cerro in San Luis Obispo.

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