Gjelina is definitely bringing the sexy to Venice Beach, as if it needed more sexy. This restaurant is unassuming from the outside, and looks smallish at first glance, but once you step through the massive wooden door out front sandwiched between two floor to ceiling paned glass windows you realize that with Gjelina, there is much more than meets the eye.
This restaurant opened in the Summer of 2008 and since then has collected a loyal following of local residents and fabulous looking people from all across the city of Los Angeles. The interior is a combination of dark, granite walls with elegant etchings that swirl across the top, near the wooden plank ceiling creating a brilliant mixture of warm and cold textures. There are small tables that line the walls on each side, and two large communal tables, one tall and one short, nestled up against the bar up front. The bar sits beneath a sustainable chandelier made with miscellaneous light bulbs and twisted tarnished recycled steel. The dining area extends much further than you would expect, into an indoor/outdoor space with a brick overlay on the concrete wall that separates the building next door.
The vibe within is just loud enough to create a steady excitement for the meal ahead and the musical selection pumped through the sound system above is as eclectic as the surrounding neighborhoods of Abbot Kinney. It is not uncommon to slapped with an hour wait, but if you can find a seat at the communal table you're in luck.
The menu is large and meant to be shared. If you have the opportunity to go with a group, do it, and try as many things on the menu as your stomach can bear. This food is for everyone, with dishes ranging from ricotta & herb stuffed pasta with friend capers, miatake mushroom, doused in lemon & brown butter for $15 to a blanco pizza with buffalo mozzarella, parmesan, fromage blanc & castelvatrano green olive big enough to share with 3 people (2 slices per person) for $14. The Chef, Travis Lett is young and creative with a strong following from his time at Nine Thirty, the restaurant he opened back in 2005 at the W Hotel Westwood. The Salt & Pepper frites with Romesco aioli are to die for ($8), and the roasted beet with burrata, arugula, sherry and toasted walnuts ($13) is delightful.
The desserts are beyond decadent and not to be passed up, regardless of if you crave sweets or not. The banana chocolate bread pudding with fresh cream & caramel ($8) is warm with a crispy top and hints of mexican chocolate, and the Butterscotch pot de creme with salted caramel & creme fraische ($8) is a mixture of sweet, creamy and salty and a force to be reckoned with. If there was a vat of this in front of me, I would swim in it.
The wait staff is friendly, stylish and knowledgeable about the menu and more than willing to offer recommendations. There is never a moment when you feel overwhelmed by the clutter of dishes because a member of the wait staff is two steps ahead of you and there to sweep them away. All together this is a high-energy, exciting place to find yourself no matter what day of the week. Gjelina buys local and uses fresh and organic ingredients where possible. They are open M-F 11:30 - Midnight, and on the weekends, 10:30am - Midnight (brunch is served until 3pm).
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Hi, my name is Aunny D. I was born and raised in the city that Mixmaster Mike made famous in the song 'So Wat'cha Want.' I have an obsession with my Boston Terrier, Sancho. "Sancho" … more
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Led by Head Chef, Travis Lett (Formerly of Nine Thirty, the restaurant at the W Hotel in Westwood, which opened in 2005), Gjelina, a Venice restaurant features California cuisine, including pizza, salads, seafood, soups and steak. Price range is $12-$20 per dish.