Gjelina has been on a run pretty much since they first swung open their doors - what - almost a few years ago now? Trying to get a table without a reservation is not unheard of, but is about as likely as getting struck by a meteorite, winning the lottery twice, or being a victim of lightning strikes multiple times. Thus, the lines out in front of the nondescript space on Abbot Kinney.
For those who wish they could just grab a quick bite at Gjelina - one of their well-composed salads - a pizza - how about just a simple sandwich - wish no more. Gjelina Take Away (GTA for short) has now been open for about a couple of weeks, and they seem to have gotten their sea legs quite fast.
They're currently open from 8AM-4PM during the week, and until 7PM on the weekends, and are shooting to be open at least until 7PM daily. Serving breakfast from opening and then transitioning to a lunch/supper menu around 11AM, the seemingly simple hand-written menu lists about a half dozen each of sandwiches, salads, pizzas, hot and cold drinks and baked goods, all with the aura of Lett, all in a well-appointed space dressed in marble, wood and brass. The customer service area is relatively shallow but substantial (remember it is take-out), and two more of the signature wood-burning ovens that give dimension and depth to so many of Gjelina's dishes sit back behind the counter in full view.
So far, I've only tried a few of the salads (panzanella, beet and carrot, and farro) and a few of their baked goods (brownie, berry and corn meal scone, chocolate chunk cookie, bacon and date scone), but my first thoughts are that the competence and genius of Gjelina's kitchen that has turned kale into a good four-letter word has been carried over to GTA - it is an extension of the mother ship for all intents and purposes. The ability to make vegetables sing, meld flour into many forms of great, and even alchemize day-old bread into delectable chunks of gold has been expanded next door and is now available to the average guy and gal on the street who is short on time but in need of, say, a pizza topped with guanciale or a farm-fresh salad with things like fresh mozzarella or capers - a short list of unconventional ingredients for a take-out counter.
The folks behind the counter are very nice, you're more than welcome to sample many of the goods, and you're typically in and out of there in five to ten minutes, depending on what's been ordered. The bread is definitely some of the best in LA, but it's not for sale yet - strictly baked for their sandwiches for now. They're still dialing in the ovens, and once they feel perfection has been achieved, they might - they just might - offer loaves some time in the near future. Reminding myself that this is take out, I'm still scratching my head - and rubbing my belly.
1429 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Venice, CA 90291
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