Heaven exists it’s called Gjelina

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For most Americans, pizza is a staple. It’s enjoyed during fifth grade slumber parties, late at night after one-too-many Irish bars, and on Friday evenings for families easing into the weekend. It’s pretty simple; pizza is as much an experience as it is a meal. At Gjelina, they take this mantra to a whole new level.

Gjelina is a gourmet pizza restaurant located on the sunny street of Abbott Kinney in Venice. This isn’t your hole-in-the-wall pizza joint. Rather, there are Mason jar lights dangling from the ceiling and shelves of deeply colored wine bottles lining the wooden walls. Out back, diners sip sparkling wine on a patio reminiscent of the Garden of Eden.

The pizzas themselves span a variety of flavors, offering traditional types such as the Pomodoro or Blanco pizzas, and range to the more obscure, including their housemade chorizo, tomato, and cream pie. If salads and small plates are more up your alley, Gjelina provides a solid list of options, including charcuterie plates and, be still my heart, crispy purple potatoes.

While the flavors are intense, and the location beautiful, the real philosophy of Gjelina is this: simplicity and experience.

Your friendly, and attractive, waiter might tell you to order the heirloom tomato salad to get started, and you should definitely listen to him. The dish arrives looking like a painting; various tomatoes in all shapes and colors are served in thick slices, drizzled with Portuguese olive oil and a dusting of coarse sea salt. Quality is key.

Don’t forget to try the burrata and nectarine cheese plate. Sweet and salty do a little dance as the prosciutto and nectarine meet your taste buds, and the addition of mozzarella provides a blanket of cream. If you’re looking for something light, the smoked trout salad is a must. The plates are perfect for sharing, and the community encourages laughter and good conversation. (Though that might also be the wine.)

When it comes to ordering pizza, there’s no way to go wrong. The nice thing about Gjelina is that they offer such a wide variety of flavors and pizzas that practically anyone can find something to serve his or her particular preference. If you’re in a rush, there’s even Gjelina Take-Away, which allows pizza lovers to enjoy a gourmet pie from the comfort of their living room.

You might go for something summery, selecting the squash blossom pizza topped with cherry tomatoes, burrata, and Parmesan. It pairs wonderfully with a crisp white or bubbly beer, and practically sings summertime. So do the wood-roasted prawns, so you may want to tack those on as a sidecar.

If you order the mushroom and Fontina, you realize why everyone’s raving over Gjelina. The richness of the mushrooms complement the tang of the truffle tremor goat cheese, and each bite pushes you into a state of mindfulness you didn’t even know existed.

After you finish your meal, using the remainder of the charred crust to sop up some olive oil, a gentle wave of satisfaction begins to take over. We know pizza makes us happy, but Gjelina illustrates why. Pizza uses quality ingredients to make something simple taste amazing. It encourages conversation and community.

In a world where things often feel rushed and we can’t be without our cell phones for more than five minutes, it’s easy to skim over the good stuff. Lucky for us, Gjelina won’t allow that to happen.  Order a glass (or bottle) of your favorite wine, pick a pizza, and let the gratitude sink in. It feels like the blanket of the California sun and taste like a glass of bubbly.

View the menu at www.gjelina.com or call 310.450.1429.