Gjelina: 99 Essential Restaurants 2013

If you ever forget how lucky you are to be living in Southern California, here's a surefire cure: Go sit on the back garden patio of Gjelina in Venice. Among the flowers and leaves and rays of dappled sunlight shining down on the bricks and tables and beautiful people (waiters and customers both), take a look at the menu's veggie section. Peruse the creative takes on farmers market–fresh produce. Perhaps some roasted thumbelina carrots with orange, sesame, cilantro and yogurt? Order a glass of wine — screw it, order the bottle — from the smart, weird, wide-ranging list. Decide on a pizza — one with nettles, garlic confit and chili? Or, in the summer, how about squash blossoms and burrata? The crust will come out blistered and speckled with char, the veggies will sing with freshness, the wine will be interesting and aromatic, the waiter will be hot, the sun will shine ... there, now don't you feel better? 1429 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice; (310) 450-1429, gjelina.com. Mon.-Fri., 11:30 a.m.-mid.; Sat.-Sun., 9 a.m.-mid. Brunch: Sat.-Sun., 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Pizzas $12-$15, entrees $15-$40. Beer and wine.


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