Monday, June 28, 2010

Gjelina: A Winning Patio & Menu

Gjelina on Abbot Kinney in Venice has been a tough reservation since it opened in late summer 2008. Travis Lett is the chef; he had previously been at NineThirty, the restaurant in the W Westwood hotel. In particular, Gjelina is known for its thin crust pizzas and for its patio in the back of the restaurant.

Last month I had a late lunch on the patio - on a beautiful day it is one of the most comfortable spots to eat in the city. We shared the Shaved Asparagus, Shallot Confit, Farm Egg, Sottocenere & Parmesan Pizza, the Burrata with an Olive Tapenade Crouton, Arugula, Lemon & Green Olive Oil appetizer and a side of Garlic Grilled Broccolini with Chili & Vinegar.

The burrata was delicious and a great way to begin the meal. The crostini with tapenade was crunchy; it had been toasted just shy of burning to give it that great texture. The burrata was smooth and rich. We ate every bite.

The pizza was thin crust and came to the table with a beautiful runny yolk. I have a soft spot for dishes with a runny egg component, so this was a must order. The sottocenere cheese is a cheese with truffle in it and the taste came through, which was a good thing. The pizza crust had a good char and chew to it. I'd order this again.

Lastly we shared the broccolini, which had a little kick due to the chili. We needed some green stuff amidst all the cheese and this dish delivered, cutting through the other flavors with sharp clean veggie and chili tastes.

We drank a domestic dry Riesling from Upstate New York, which had the crispness we needed to go with the food.

The ambiance is comfortable and Lett's menu is market driven. Like many restaurants that have opened lately (such as Animal), Gjelina will not modify items on the menu. The menu states "changes & modifications politely declined" and "we support local, sustainable & organic practices whenever possible." Gjelina has a certain way of doing things, and thats fine by me as long as the food continues to taste as good as it did on this visit.

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