Last Friday Ashley and I went to Gjelina, a restaurant on Abbot Kinney in the heart of Venice. I had heard repeatedly and from many different friends how amazing this place was, so we couldn’t wait to try it and were lucky to get a last minute reservation.
I immediately loved the ambiance and cozy decor of the restaurant as soon as we walked in.
The menu at Gjelina is huge and offers both tapas-like appetizers as well as full-size entrées.
Ashley and I started with the Salt & Pepper Frites with Romesco and Aioli.
For our next dish we ordered the Smoked Mozzarella, Confit Tomato, Jalapeno, Arugula, Lemon & Cortez Bottarga Pizza. The pizza was fine but we didn’t think it was anything special.
Our third dish was the Slow Cooked Lamb Shoulder with Orange, Yogurt, Herbs, Brown Rice and Fried Shallots. It was absolutely fantastic and hands-down the best dish of the night.
We turned to our waiter for help in choosing our last dish. He recommended the Squid Ink Chitarra with Bottarga, Garlic, Chili, Parsely, Breadcrumbs and White Wine. Neither of us had had squid ink before and were a little hesitant, but we were willing to give it a try…
Big mistake. I’m not usually a picky eater, but it was so weird to eat fishy-tasting pasta without any fish in it. It was also extremely hard to get over the color of the squid ink! We ate half a bite and that was about it.
For dessert we ordered the Butterscotch Pot de Crème with Salted Caramel & Crème Fraiche. Again, it was okay but we didn’t love it.
Overall, I have to say we were both very disappointed with Gjelina. After hearing everyone rant and rave about this place, I came in with extremely high expectations. I really, really wanted to like this place as much as everyone else. But we only loved one of the four dishes. The rest were mediocre and forgettable at best.
My biggest complaint about this restaurant was the service, or should I say lack thereof. Our waiter was friendly but he just simply wasn’t around. At all.
I will give Gjelina one more try, mostly because I couldn’t stop staring at the dishes that were being ordered at the table next to us. It made me wonder if we just chose the wrong things.
After our meal, Ashley and I left Gjelina with an expensive bill, wishing that we had just eaten at the First Friday food trucks instead.
Gjelina is located at 1429 Abbot Kinney Blvd. in Venice. For its menu and hours, click here.