Gjelina: funky Venice Beach restaurant serves fabulous Mediterranean food

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Gjelina is at this moment my favorite restaurant in Los Angeles. Located on Abbott Kinney Boulevard in Venice Beach, Gjelina serves truly delicious Mediterranean food in an industrial chic space that has an outdoor patio in the back. When I go to restaurants like Gjelina which serve small plates, pizza, tempting vegetable dishes and salads, I skip the main course and share small dishes with my dining companions. As you can see from the dinner menu below, they also serve charcuterie and cheese plates.
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If you are dining with a group of friends, my advice is to order different dishes from the small plates menu (see below). For 2 persons, three small plates plus two vegetable dishes and a dessert are sufficient.

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Everything we had at Gjelina was outstanding:

  • Braised cavolo nero with smoked tomato, vinegar and honey: I love cavolo nero (a very dark green Italian vegetable that resembles the lacinato kale). This one is served with a bit of sweet-sour broth and tomatoes, with hints of vinegar. Lovely!
  • Marinated artichokes with burrata, pistachio pesto and crispy shallots: if you like burrata, this is your dish. The pesto was delicate, so it did not overwhelm the creamy lusciousness of the burrata and the artichokes were fresh.
  • Hen of the Woods mushroom toast with crème fraîche and truffle oil: my favorite of all the dishes I tried. Huge pieces of mushrooms in a scrumptious light creamy sauce with a hint of garlic, made even more divine by the addition of truffle oil. Because they use crème fraîche instead of heavy cream, the mushrooms’ flavour truly stands out and the dish is not heavy.
  • Grilled local squid with warm lentil salad and salsa verde: the squid was fresh and tender, served on a bed of lentils flavoured with vinegar.
  • PEI mussels with housemade chorizo, confit tomato, white wine and grilled bread: Fresh mussels in a white wine broth gets me into a Côte d’Azur mood. The only disappointment is the chorizo — I was expecting Spanish chorizo (cured meat) which is what people in the south of France and in Spain add to this dish. Spanish chorizo would have gone better than the Mexican chorizo (ground meat, tends to crumble when cooked, fattier than the Spanish version) which Gjelina used.
  • Dessert: banana chocolate bread pudding with fresh cream and caramel. The dessert was surprisingly light with just the right amount of sweetness. The cream and caramel provided the perfect finishing touches to the banana and chocolate. It was difficult deciding between this and the butterscotch pôt de crème with salted caramel and creme fraiche. There is a next time . . .

Gjelina has a small but good wine list, and wines priced by the glass are a bit on the expensive side. Service is excellent! Although the restaurant was packed, there were no terrible delays and our server never appeared harried.

If you have any choice in the matter, sit in the outdoor patio behind the restaurant. It’s a great place in the evening, with heaters if you get too cold. The outdoor patio boasts a lively scene, with view of the kitchen inside.

Gjelina
1429 Abbott Kinney Blvd.
Venice, CA 90291
+1 310 450 1429
www.gjelina.com
Open 7 days a week till midnight.

Gjelina on Urbanspoon

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About Esme Vos

Esme Vos is the founder of Mapplr, a travel site featuring boutique hotels, luxury resorts, travel guides and restaurant reviews. You can find her on and Twitter.

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