Named for the owner’s mother, Gjelina is pronounced “ja-lee-na.” The restaurant exudes a hipster vibe, with minimalist and rustic décor. Exposed brick floors and walls, plus repurposed wood plank ceilings accentuate the elegance of the food. Almost always packed, the interior dining area and exterior patio are noisy and radiate energy. A fire pit and white lights make the patio a great place in which to dine, however, reservations are not accepted for patio seating.
Vegetables shine on the Gjelina menu, with bold salad combinations and savory roasted vegetables. The escarole salad features sunchoke, smoked almond, parmesan and preserved lemon vinaigrette. Charred Brussels sprouts with chili-lime vinaigrette, cilantro, and walnuts pleasingly combine bitter and sweet flavors. Mushroom Toast is a must-try small plate, served with crème fraiche and truffle oil.
There are also plenty of meat dishes to satisfy the carnivores and the house-made chorizo is a favorite. Generously portioned pork meatballs served in a fresh tomato sauce are quick to disappear once they reach the table. Wood-roasted prawns require a lot of work to savor the flavor, but are worth the effort.
Gjelina is famous for thin crust, wood-fired pizzas that showcase inventive toppings. Besides the homemade chorizo pie, guests rave over the squash blossom, zucchini, cherry tomato, burrata, and green olive oil pizza.
Chef Travis Lett takes the farm-to-table phenomenon to higher levels through bold flavor combinations and the freshest of seasonal ingredients.
Gjelina supports corporate responsibility through GVP, a volunteer program for employees and for community members. GVP partnered with Habitat for Humanity in Compton to produce low-income housing. The organization also educates children in local schools about healthy eating and gardening.