Dread O - perfect! As for Gjelina, we were seated immediately at a great table on the patio by the firepit which was perfect on a chilly evening. The place was hopping but we were certainly able to easily carry on a conversation. We shared everything and started with a charcuterie plate, followed by the mushroom, goat cheese, fontina and truffle oil pizza and then on to the pork belly with polenta and the gnocchi pomodoro. The service was friendly and casual (but attentive) throughout. Turned out one of our servers, Oscar, is a Survivor alum which was fun for my niece from Canada. He was delightful and comped us the butterscotch pot de creme with salted caramel for her birthday. It was a beautiful evening under the stars and I think we enjoyed it even more because we felt like we had escaped a likely terrible evening at Red O which would have cost us twice as much. The food highlights for me were the pork belly, pizza and the dessert. The only thing I wasn't that crazy about was the Gnocchi but only because the sauce was a little too sweet for me - I prefer more agro less dolce. Our evening here ended up being the highlight of the trip.
----- Gjelina 1429 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice, CA 90291, USA
Let me preface this by saying that I live in the greater NYC area, it's part of my job to entertain and I regularly eat at some of the best restaurants in NY. I travel regularly to LA and am always excited to try new places. On a trip last week I brought my college aged niece as her birthday present and we did the whole 'see and be seen' thing in LA - Bar Marmont, Osteria Mozza, stayed at Sunset Marquis etc. I had made reservations for Red O several weeks ago for Friday night primo 8:30 slot. I also had a back up reservation at Gjelina for 9:30pm that I had meant to cancel earlier in the day. Thank God I got busy and forgot. We arrived at Red O on time, were barely greeted and dragged through the restaurant to the very depths of restaurant Siberia. A table barely 2 feet off the floor in the far corner of the "Tequila Lounge" next to a large rowdy group. I looked at the hostess and asked for a proper table. She said this was it. We sat down, I looked at my niece and said "Let's get out of here". We just up and walked out. Saw the hostess on the way out - told her we were leaving, no reaction, so we just kept going. Got our car back from the valets (the only friendly people we encountered there) and drove to Venice and had an absolutely amazing meal with excellent service. I've eaten at Topolobampo and Frontera and was really looking forward to the meal. However, I'm not spending my money at a place that is not interested in my business. There are too many great restaurants that are more than happy to treat you like a customer. I don't need obsequiousness but I won't accept rudeness. Run, don't walk, away from Red O. We got our taco fix from a truck the next day.
We are also looking for a few first night restaurant suggestions. Also traveling with a child (11 years old). We are staying at the Westin Europa and Regina on the Grand Canal near Piazza San Marco. Any suggestions for casual places, not needing reservations either right near the hotel or on the square? This will be our first time in Venice so something a little magical would be wonderful. We are eating at Il Refolo and Bancogiro on other nights.
Your enthusiasm is infectious. We've booked Il Refolo for our final night in Venice. The first night we are going to play by ear, the second evening is Bancogiro. We wanted to go a little more casual as our 11 year old daughter is traveling with us.