GTA — Gjelina TakeAway Is Worth the Stupid Setup

16 Jul

Perhaps nothing represents the new Abbot Kinney in Venice like Travis Letts’ growing empire: Gjelina, Gjelina TakeAway (GTA), and Gjusta. Hipster to the hilt, vegetarian-friendly, pricey, and kind of a pain in the ass. So why would you deal with the hassle? The food is amazing.

GTA is located right next to big sister Gjelina. And while Gjelina has a beautiful patio and sleek interior, GTA is (obviously) a take out-only operation. There is a small alleyway on the left side of the building where they have generously provided some old milk crates that you can squat on. It’s how you feel like you’re humbly roughing it while you nosh on your $15 single-serve pizza with your $4 cup of Sightglass coffee.

The menu is pretty simple: pizza, sandwiches, salads, sides.  They have some great baked goods, too.

Hippies, apparently, are still welcome.  Although in today’s Abbot Kinney, this barefoot dude is probably a billionaire.

The front-of-the-house/back-of-the-house race/class divide is on display.

Ah, but look at that beautiful pizza. Seasonal cherry tomatoes, oozing burrata, charred basil.  The crust is wonderful, blackened and bubbly, but not too much.  This is essentially the same pizza that you get next door at Gjelina.  While Mozza is still my favorite, I’d put this pizza up against any of the other great Neapolitan pizzas around town (e.g., Sotto, Settebello, Olio).

The (not-so-) dark underbelly.

The beautiful laquered top of the meatball sandwich.  This bun is nice, but probably the wrong choice for such a hearty and moist sandwich.

I am having a love affair currently with good meatballs.  There’s something about a nice loosely-packed, fatty meatball with a good homemade red sauce.  The meatballs here are dynamite and the sauce is just perfect — rich and just sweet enough.  This sandwich is awesome, if totally messy (and should probably be served on a French roll).

And the mushroom melt.  This is one of LA’s great sandwiches.  Charred and toasted bread.  A melange of mushrooms, heavy on the porcini.  And gobs of cheese.  This is the umami and carbs bomb that Mozza’s funghi misti pizza is.  But instead of Nancy Silverton’s chewy bubbly pizza crust, you get the crispy bite of perfectly toasted good bread.

This might be the apotheosis of the grilled cheese wave of the past decade.

This is the brisket bahn mi.  I wish I could say I’m not showing you the inside because it doesn’t deserve it.  But the truth is that I just forgot to take that picture.  Oh well.  You can skip this sandwich.  It’s OK.  But in the ever-changing definition of what a bahn mi is, this is neither innovative enough or tasty enough to warrant much discussion.

Anyways, GTA may be every bit as exciting as Gjelina is, even accepting that you don’t get a seat and it’s not clear where the line starts.  While the prices are higher than you want them to be, I’d gladly pay $12 for that mushroom melt sandwich any day of the week.

Gjelina TakeAway

1427 Abbot Kinney Blvd
Venice, CA 90291
Phone number (310) 392-7575

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