Gjelina: The Must-Eat on Abbot Kinney

Could there be a better restaurant to debut our blog?  We think not.

Lindsay: Gjelina (gjelina.com) in Venice is last-meal-worthy foodie fare and the only restaurant we have been to where we could envision ourselves consuming everything on the menu.  And boy, did we try to test that theory.  Although we did not successfully conquer the entire menu (I’m sure there will be a “Gjelina Part Deux”) we did tackle a huge chunk.

Course 1: Artisan Cheeses

Let’s just start by saying anytime there is cheese on the menu it has to be ordered by our table!  Staying true to tradition we started with a sampling of artisan cheeses…

Our cheese plate at Gjelina was amazing. Clockwise from top left: aged French cheese, soft cow’s cheese, soft sheep’s cheese, and a blue cheese from Tazmania.

Lauren: Cheese is one thing I could not live without.  One of the first times that Lindsay and I went out together, it was to a wine bar in Malibu, the sadly defunct Barrel.  They had a killer cheese menu there and we managed to get the ridiculously large cheese plate almost every time.  Anyways, take a look at our beautiful cheese plate from Gjelina.

The honey comb that accompanies the blue cheese is phenomenal.  Prior to realizing that cheese was going to be an integral part of my life, I wasn’t the biggest fan of blue cheeses.  But along came the honey, which cuts the over-whelming flavor of the blue cheese beautifully.  It’s a match made in heaven.

Course 2: Broccolini

BroccoliniLindsay: Next came the veg…. gotta get in our greens!  Quite possible the best broccolini on the planet.  A little on the spicy side, but we’re no wimps.  And the cut of acid on the end rounded out the flavors beautifully.

Lauren:  I’m not one for food that is too spicy (sorry family, didn’t get that gene), but this broccolini was amazing.  The balance of the dish was incredible.  At first, when I saw that the dish had chiles in it, I was apprehensive, but after eating half the dish, I was a believer. (On a side note, did you notice that we can’t seem to remember to take pictures until after we’ve started eating?  We’re working on it…)

Lindsay: Side note:  The greatest pair of guys were our next table neighbors.  They were basically the male version of us!  We became fast friends and next thing you know…we’re sampling their food!  Grilled Shishito (it’s a spicy pepper) = amazing, but spicy.

Course 3: Gnocchi

Gnocchi in a brown butter sauce...Need we say more?

What happens when you merge heavenly with sinful on a plate?  You get this next dish…Ricotta Gnocchi with Crispy Sage, Brown Butter, and Parmesan.  The gnocchi are the lightest and fluffiest little nuggets of heaven and that brown butter….oh, the brown butter.  It’s thick and sinful and everything you look for in a gnocchi mate.  The gnocchi are perfect for sopping up this delicious sauce.

Course 4: Gruyere Pizza with Fresh Arugula

Then came this.  The nutty gruyere beds to the perfectly sweet caramelized onions.  The mattress….the ultra crispy pizza dough with just the right touch of charred flavor.  The duvet of our little metaphor?  A beautiful blanket of fresh arugula.  This is a match made in heaven.  Sam, our waiter, was right on the money with this pizza recommendation.

Gruyere, Carmelized Onion, and Arugula

Not pictured here (…well because quite frankly when we saw it we devoured it instead of keeping our cool and remembering to snap a photo) was the flourless chocolate cake with crème fraiche and hazelnuts.  This would not have been the first dessert choice for said blogger, but let me tell you…they proved me wrong.  Creamy more than cakey, this dessert packs a richness second to none.  There is also some untold magic when spooning your way to the bottom of the plate…a brittle crunch in every bite.  Was it the hazelnuts or so much more?  The world may never know, but all we know is we were definitely members of the clean plate club when it came to this dessert.

Lauren: In addition to my cheese fetish, I’m in love with dark chocolate.  I chose this dessert because the alternative sounded too “non-dessert” for me.  Something with corn-meal.  Anyways, the beauty of this flourless chocolate cake was the homemade crème fraiche.  The cake was so rich that without the crème, it would have been too much cake to handle.

Lindsay: Cue duo one table away from us.  Because one of these fine blokes is neighbors with the owner they were served a sampling of fresh, homemade gelato.  Thus, we were served a sample.  I love new friends!  Can we just tell you….and we need to whisper this now because we don’t want Italy overhearing us…this was the most amazing gelato, period.  And you are hearing this from a girl who literally ate gelato 2 times a day for 2 weeks while taking in everything Italy had to offer!  Exotic and unique flavors set this decadence apart. 1) Almond and 2) passion fruit with fresh passion fruit on top  is all we have to say!

 Lauren:  The gelato was insanity.  The almond…dear God.  If I could eat that all day every day, that’d be heaven.

The Verdict

Lindsay: Well in case you could not tell by our overwhelmingly gleeful review of our meal at Gjelina this is not a place to be missed.  Great ambiance from the textured walls to the patio dining with fire pit to the chain flush  old-school British toilets (if you’ve been there you know what we’re talking about).  Great food from cheese to chocolate.  This eatery may be a bit cramped (the individual tables are a bit close and they also have family style long tables), but hey, isn’t that the only way you meet new people and try amazing gelato?


~Lindsay & Lauren


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