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Finally tasted the elusive Gjelina – worth the wait

12 Apr

So here lies the long-awaited Gjelina verdictit was an amazingly savory and scrumptious dining experience.  The restaurant has a modern, yet warm feeling to it, mainly comprised of wood and brick decor and dimly lit antique light fixtures.  There are distressed wooden tables inside and a cozy courtyard out back (complete with lap blankets and heaters for people like me who are freezing if it’s under 75 degrees out).  The space has a lot of great character, the service was good, and the FOOD, ohhhhh the food…

Just to be clear, if I could have gotten a sample platter that consisted of everything on the menu I would have done so in a heartbeat.   The dinner menu was a mixture of Italian, French, and to my delight, even some North African cuisine.  It was beyond difficult to narrow things down, but here’s the breakdown of what we feasted on:

Salad – Grilled asparagus, frisee, pancetta vinaigrette, topped with a crispy fried egg and parmesan shavings

“Vegetable” – Salt and pepper fries with romesco and aioli dipping sauce (I know, a fried potato is a sad attempt at ordering a vegetable side, but they were irresistibly perfect!)

Charcuterie – Jidori chicken liver pate w/spicy greens, balsamic & grilled bread

Main Plates

  • Pizza w/Gruyere, caramelized onion, fromage blanc & arugula
  • Pork Meatballs braised in tomato and red wine w/parmesan & grilled bread

Everything we had was beyond amazing, but I’d have to say my top two faves were the chicken pate and the braised meatballs.  The flavors in each dish came together effortlessly and left you hoping for just one more bite…

Also big hits that I will be sure to order during my next visit:

  • Braised artichokes w/burrata, mint-pistachio pesto & crispy shallots
  • Mussels w/spicy chorizo, confit tomato, white wine & grilled bread
  • Braised chickpeas with greens, cous cous, harissa & spiced yogurt
  • Grilled housemade Merguez (North African spicy lamb sausage) w/sauerkraut, red onion, caraway & mustard
  • Mitake mushroom toast w/creme fraiche & truffle oil

Gjelina’s chef/owner, Travis Lett, has had an appreciation for organic and locally grown produce years before it was fashionable among the LA masses. Gjelina’s menu incorporates Lett’s long-standing belief that creating dishes based on seasonal availability and only the freshest ingredients will result in happy customers and a highly successful restaurant.  Alongside co-owner Fran Camaj, Lett opened Gjelina less than 3 years ago in late 2008.  It has since been featured in Vogue, was awarded 2nd best new restaurant by Los Angeles Magazine and has 4 stars on Yelp with nearly 800 reviews.

I’m ecstatic that this place didn’t stay a secret for long among Venice locals and LA foodies, and I will definitely be back for the tantalizing Gjelina experience very soon!

   Gjelina ~ 1429 Abbot Kinney Blvd ~ Venice, CA ~ (310) 450-1429

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