Fantastic Breakfast, Mouth-Watering Smoked Salmon Belly, Kanpachi, Lox and More, Glorious Prime Rib Butcher and Succulent Meatball Sandwiches and Much More! - Gjusta [Thoughts + Pics]

We all know the old saying: “A jack of all trades is a master of none.” Most food lovers can probably tell that if you see a restaurant menu with a huge assortment of items and different categories that it’s most likely a generalist that probably doesn’t make any (or most) of their items very well. And it’s generally true (case in point, Cheesecake Factory).

But one restaurant that continues to defy the odds is Gjusta (pronounced, “Joo-Stuh”), sister restaurant to Abbot Kinney legend, Gjelina. Both restaurants were originally opened by founding Chef Travis Lett, and Gjusta debuted with a big splash, a rather rustic, open-ended eatery with grand glass display cases of the latest Pastries, Desserts, Smoked Seafood Deli Case, Market Salad Case and more.

In fact, trying to describe Gjusta to someone who’s never heard of it showcases just how mind-boggling great it is: It is a fantastic place to grab outstanding Breakfast items, beyond Pastries, Pies, Desserts, etc., their Breakfast Sandwich remains outstanding. Their Multi-Grain Porridge Bowls are delicious. Their Multi-Grain Waffle is a winner (one of my favorites in the city).

Then you have their Bread. Yes, it sounds rather boring, but should not be overlooked: Gjusta makes some of the best Bread Loaves in the city, bar none.

On any given day, they would offer ~6 - 10 different types of loaves, every one of them perfectly lovely and comforting.

Whole Wheat Bread (Sesame Seed Whole Wheat Sourdough):

We would stop by every so often during the pandemic just to pick up Gjusta’s Bread (you can order ahead and just pick it up curbside), and it was a bit of gentle comfort during 2020. Normally when you think of “Whole Wheat Bread” you think of grainy, dry “bread” that’s more of a desiccant than sustenance.

Then you try Gjusta’s Whole Wheat Loaf, which is a Sesame Seed-encrusted Whole Wheat Sourdough Bread that is stunning: Fragrant, aromatic Sesame Seeds engage your senses before you even begin to take a bite. The crusty outside gives way to soft, supple, moist, fluffy perfectly baked goodness within! :heart: It is glorious and you can enjoy it just by itself, or with some quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil and a bit of Diamond Crystal Salt; that’s how good it is. :blush:

The pandemic hit most restaurants hard, and for Gjusta, they ended up closing down for months. Towards the end of 2020, they started to set up outdoor seating, converting part of their parking lot to accommodate socially distanced tables and it developed into a beautiful space:

Hearing reports from @A5KOBE and others that their pandemic re-opened menu was not as good as before, we were disheartened. We waited awhile, but then decided to give them a try in the hopes they heard feedback and improved.

Sparkling Ginger Lemonade:

Probably my favorite drink at Gjusta, this was as bracing and great as earlier: Gjusta uses fresh-grated Ginger, freshly-squeezed Lemonade and Sparkling Water to create a glorious morning wake-up call. :slight_smile: And it’s not very sweet at all (which is great).

English Pea & Burrata Toast with Pea Tendrils Salad:

Their English Pea & Burrata Toast was a new seasonal item, highlighting Spring’s bounty of Fresh English Peas, and this was excellent: Lightly nutty, earthy, inherently sweet as fresh English Peas are, it paired beautifully with fresh Burrata and Gjusta’s freshly-baked Bread. :heart:

The Pea Tendrils Salad was super vegetal (in a good way), tasting of Spring and bright and lovely.

Asparagus Dill Salad:

Another of Gjusta’s highlights is their Market Deli Case: They offer 3 - 5 fresh Farmers Market Salads every day, and it changes often (sometimes daily). True to the name, you’ll find vibrant Salads that go beyond the standard offerings at many restaurants: You can taste how fresh all the vegetables are. On this visit, their Asparagus Dill Salad was stellar, perfectly cooked Asparagus, fresh Dill, accented by funky bits of Manchego.

Prime Rib Butcher Sandwich (Baguette, Grass Fed Prime Rib, Olive Oil, Salt & Pepper):

In the Before Times, Gjusta made one of the best Prime Rib Sandwiches in the city. We had heard about the downhill reports on their star item, and when we ordered this one, we spoke to the manager (before it came out), asking about its status. The manager said they heard the feedback (and explained it was due to the loss of their cook who was their Prime Rib specialist). They found someone to replace him, and with much cooking and training, felt that their Prime Rib was back to being what it should’ve been. As you can see from the pictures this is pretty close to the way it used to be. Taking a bite…

Beautiful medium-rare Prime Rib, thinly sliced, juicy, moist, and outstanding! :heart: :blush: Add in their Housemade Baguette and it makes all the difference. This was fantastic! :blush:

Veggie Sandwich (Whole Wheat, Peperonata, Fennel, Cucumber & Radish, Pickled Turnips, Herbs & Sprouts, Avocado, Tahini):

Lest you think that Gjusta can only make meat-based Sandwiches shine, their simply named Veggie Sandwich belies the glory within: The brainchild of Chef Travis Lett, even though he’s departed, he trained his staff well. The Veggie Sandwich is hands down one of the most outstanding Sandwiches I’ve ever eaten: It starts with the ridiculously fragrant and fresh, pillowy, Housemade Whole Wheat Sourdough Bread that they bake multiple times a day in-house(!). It is so tender and fresh and fragrant with a delicate tang and earthiness. :heart:

Then the confluence of fresh Herbs, crisp Cucumber and Radish, fragrant Fennel, lovely Peperonata adding some beautiful oil and onion-y flavors from their cooked down Sweet Bell Peppers, the fresh Sprouts give it a Spring, vegetal tinge, but then you get their Housemade Tahini, so creamy and luscious, and fresh, ripe Avocado. It all combines together into the most wonderful of flavors. And, by the way, it’s vegan. I’m not vegan, but I’d gladly eat this every week, that’s how good it is. :heart: :blush: :heart:

So Gjusta makes some of the best Bread in the city. Their Breakfast items are outstanding. And they make Sandwiches that completely blow away the concept of what a typical “Sandwich” is all about (they taste nothing like the usual connotation of what a “Sandwich” is). And then you get to their Smoked Seafood Deli Case.

Yes, Gjusta also happens to be the best Smoked Seafood specialist in the city as well. :open_mouth: The vast variety of offerings is stunning. The best way is to order a Fish Plate (you can order a Small (5 oz), or Large (10 oz)), and they allow you to choose 3 types of Smoked Seafood to try out, for the Small.

Fish Plate (Small - 5 oz) (Choice of Three Fish Options. Served with a side of Labneh, Red Onions, Capers, Tomato, Lemon Wedge, Cucumbers & Radish, and Toasted Bread):

The condiments alone are stunning, a Housemade Labneh, the array of Cucumbers & Radishes, Pickled Red Onions, Tomatoes, Capers:

They offer a random selection of their fresh-baked Housemade Breads:

But the star is their selection of Smoked Seafood:

Cold Smoked Kanpachi (Great Amberjack):

It’s not too often you see a restaurant offer Cold-Smoked Kanpachi (Great Amberjack)! Usually found in its more glorious Sushi and Sashimi form, Gjusta decides to cold-smoke it, and it retains a toothsome, gentle meaty quality, but is fragrantly smoky and delicious! :heart:

Smoked Salmon Belly:

But it’s their Smoked Salmon Belly that you should not skip out on: Luscious, fatty, mouth-wateringly delicious. There’s a gentle smoke, perfectly moist, oily, wonderful Smoked Salmon Belly! SO GOOD! :heart: :blush: :heart:

Nata (Portuguese Egg Tart):

It seems the debut of their Nata (Portuguese Egg Tart) was so popular, they’ve kept it on the menu ever since. This had been the first time since the pandemic started that we were able to try their Nata again. And thankfully, it is every bit as stellar as before! Beautiful custard, so fresh and quality. It’s not overly sweet, there’s a crisped crust on the outside that just binds it all together. :heart:

The only thing missing is serving it hot, but it’s understandable given how many items they have to serve. One of the best Portuguese Egg Tarts in the city! :heart: (@ipsedixit @paranoidgarliclover @Sgee @attran99 and all.) :slight_smile:

Carrot Cake:

For the longest time, in the Before Times, Gjusta made the best Carrot Cake in L.A. as well. Then the recipe changed, and we found out it was due to the Cake Pastry Chef leaving, and the replacement changed up the recipe. The new version was still quite good, but not as good as the OG version. In chatting with one of the servers, they mentioned that their Carrot Cake was changed back to the OG version(!). :open_mouth: We had to order this to do some “research.” :wink:

Taking a bite: Incredibly moist, fragrant Carrot Cake. There are Walnuts again, and it’s got that perfect balance of creamy luxuriousness, light nuttiness, and beautiful Cream Cheese Frosting. It’s very similar to the OG recipe, and I’d say it’s about ~90% of its former glory, which makes it delicious and a must-order again! :heart:

Olive Loaf (Green Olives, Black Olives, Rosemary, Thyme, Lemon Zest):

And we had to try another of Gjusta’s fantastic Housemade Breads on this visit. We loved their Olive Loaf in the Before Times, but it had been over a year since we last tried this. And? Just like their Whole Wheat, this is a fantastic bake! It’s so moist, airy, soft within, a beautiful exterior crust (almost as pretty as @paranoidgarliclover’s Housemade Breads), :wink: Gjusta’s Olive Loaf is yet another winner. Just so so good! :heart:

Another Visit (30th+):

We finally decided to dine outdoors at Gjusta recently, and it was a beautiful and lovely time. The tables were socially distanced still, service was outstanding (so unusual because in the Before Times, you sat yourself / self-service).

Sparkling Ginger Lemonade:

Still delicious, fizzy, potent, fresh-grated Ginger, fragrant Lemonade.

Treviso Fennel Salad (Arugula, Olive Oil, Lemon, Parmesan):

Another of their ever-rotating Market Salads, this was very good: I loved the light bitterness in the Treviso Lettuce, the Fennel helped accent and lift each bite. The Arugula was a green counterpoint, and the quality Olive Oil, Lemon and light pungent spikes from Parmesan rounded things out. Lovely.

Fish Plate (Small - 5 oz) (Choice of Three Fish Options. Served with a side of Labneh, Red Onions, Capers, Tomato, Lemon Wedge, Cucumbers & Radish, and Toasted Bread):

Smoked Sturgeon:

The Smoked Sturgeon was probably a touch too salty (the first time we’ve experienced over-salting for their Smoked Seafood selections in over 30 visits). It had a beautiful smoky quality, but the saltiness was distracting. However, when eaten with their super-ripe, inherently sweet Tomatoes, on their Pumpernickel (heartier, earthier), it balanced out the bite and turned out to be tasty.

Smoked Mackerel:

Amazing! :heart: Inherently oily, oceanic, it was tender, moist, fatty, and just an awesome bite! :blush:

Hot Smoked Kanpachi:

Besides their Cold Smoked Kanpachi (Great Amberjack), they also offer a Hot Smoked version. The Hot Smoked Kanpachi results in a fully cooked through Fish (compared to the Cold Smoked version). It’s a touch meatier, firmer, but still tender. I think I prefer Cold Smoked Kanpachi more, but this was tasty.

Their condiments and Housemade Breads served with the Fish Plate were wonderful as usual. :slight_smile:

Prime Rib Butcher Sandwich (Baguette, Grass Fed Prime Rib, Olive Oil, Salt & Pepper):

To make extra sure, and now dining in, we ordered their Prime Rib Butcher Sandwich once again:

And it’s back! Perfectly cooked, rosy pink slices of glorious Prime Rib, thinly sliced. We asked for extra Horseradish (@paranoidgarliclover), and it was just the right amount. :wink: Add in the crusty, but fluffy interior Housemade Baguette and you have one of the best Sandwiches in the city, and one of the highlights of Gjusta’s menu! :heart: :blush: :heart: (@A5KOBE @Mr_Happy and all)

(NEW) Meatball Sandwich (Pork & Beef Meatballs, Burrata, Parmesan, Pomodoro, Ciabatta Baguette):

Normally when you see a restaurant add something brand-new that they’ve never done before, you’d be right to have doubts. But this is Gjusta we’re talking about. Yet again in another “how is this even possible?” moment, Gjusta delivers:

The fresh, Housemade Baguette is crusty on the outside, but is pliant and yields with a pillowy soft center, you bite into the Housemade Beef & Pork Meatballs, which are rich, savory, zesty, moist and tender, the Housemade Pomodoro Sauce is tangy and inherently lightly sweet, superbly balanced, and you get melty Burrata Cheese, so creamy, and Parmesan, and you have a bite of pure joy! :heart: :heart: :heart:

This is probably the Best Meatball Sandwich in the city right now! :heart: (@ipsedixit @A5KOBE @paranoidgarliclover @attran99 @ColinMorey and all.)

I’d say Huckleberry Cafe’s amazing Turkey & Pesto Meatball Sandwich is very close, but due to COVID-19, it’s no longer on the menu (as well has another 30 - 40% of their menu items). :sob:

Cashew Paris Brest:

In the Before Times, Gjusta had just debuted their Hazelnut Paris Brest Dessert, which was stunning. Currently, they have a new Cashew Paris Brest. Which sounds lovely, but then when it arrived it shocked us in more ways than one. First, it’s massive! This is like the size of a Personal Pizza(!). :open_mouth: I have no idea why they decided to a large format Paris Brest, but it feeds 4 people easily. :sweat_smile:

Secondly, and most important: It is absolutely delicious! :blush: They’ve encrusted Roasted Cashews into the Choux Pastry (a nice touch), so it adds a beautiful toasty, nutty flavor in each bite. Then the center is a ridiculous distillation of Roasted Cashew Nuts, Cashew Creme Patisserie, and it’s loaded with it, but it’s still balanced. It’s like they took the playbook from Bulgarini Gelato, it’s pure, glorious Cashew nutty essence in every bite. A must order! :heart:

Whole Wheat Bread (Sesame Seed Whole Wheat Sourdough) - Half Loaf:

One nice option at Gjusta is that if you’re not feeling like taking an entire loaf of Bread, Gjusta can sell you a Half Loaf of Bread instead. Their Whole Wheat Sesame Seed Sourdough Half Loaf was as spectacular as usual. Perfect to bring home for some Charcuterie we were doing later that evening. :slight_smile:

Gjusta continues to shine, and we’re glad to see it survived 2020 as well. There were some hiccups from earlier reports last year, but it seems Gjusta has righted itself and is back to being Gjusta again, which means it’s just excellent in so many ways. Don’t miss out on their fantastic Breakfast items such as the Egg Sandwich (although we miss their Risky Biscuit), Multi-Grain Waffle and Multi-Grain Bowls and more.

Order a Fish Plate (Small) and you can sample up to 3 different types of Smoked Seafood from their outstanding selections (consider the Smoked Salmon Belly, Smoked Mackerel, Oil Cured Sardines, Smoked Octopus and more).

Don’t forget to try their legendary Prime Rib Butcher Sandwich, which they take the time to roast a Prime Rib every day, fresh, for this Sandwich, that’s how crazy they are. Their Veggie Sandwich might be even better (a nod to how great Chef Lett was in mastering the art of Vegetables in all its permutations). Their Italian Sandwich is still one of the best in the city as well, and many more offerings for Lunch. They are truly like no other “Sandwiches” you’ve tried before and elevates that notion tenfold.

Add in their new Meatball Sandwich (absurd), a vast array of the best Housemade Breads in the city, standout Desserts like their Carrot Cake and Paris Brest (Hazelnut or Cashew), and the list goes on and on.

So what is Gjusta? It’s just delicious.

Gjusta
320 Sunset Ave.
Venice, CA 90291
Tel: (310) 314-0320

12 Likes

I dont live there . After seeing multiple posts from this place to eat . What is Gjusta ? A place to serve up local ingredients, day in day out . Thinking about how they can make it better. That’s what I see on your posts.

2 Likes

So glad to hear that they’ve returned to form. The italian sandwich totally broke my heart when I had it last year. It was still fine, but it was just transcendent b/f. If the rest of the items are “back,” I trust the Italian’ll be good, as well. And I love the prime rib sandwich, too.

Sounds like it’s time for a re-visit. :slight_smile:

I can’t believe you compared my bread to theirs!!! Gawd, I wish my bread would burst open at the scoring and show all the air bubbles that Gjusta’s does. Can you believe I’ve never had their plain bread???

2 Likes

Hi @paranoidgarliclover,

Yah, we were really happy with our 2 recent visits and breathed a sigh of relief. :slight_smile: Let me know how your re-visit goes; I so wanted to order the Italian Sandwich again to see how it was (I’m sure it should be great again), but we had ordered too much food already. :sweat_smile:

Your bread pics look great! :blush: But wait, you’ve never had Gjusta’s Country Bread (their simplest loaf)? It’s fantastic! :blush: It has the highest chance of showing up on the Fish Plate if you’ve ever ordered one (they’ll give you 3 types of their Housemade Breads, and Country shows up ~90% of the time, along with 2 other selections). So that’s one way to sample it first if you want, while enjoying amazing Smoked Seafood. :wink: Enjoy!

1 Like

Fantastic pictorial

But you had me a salmon belly. It’s the first thing I slice off a side of salmon or steelhead before portioning it into 4-6 oz fillets. It becomes a treat we enjoy that day. I enjoy it smoked with a sweet rub. Salmon candy

2 Likes

Hi @Scubadoo97,

Thanks! :slight_smile: That sounds wonderful: Being able to enjoy fresh salmon belly as you portion out the fillets.

1 Like

So glad Gjusta is back for dine in. The prime rib is looking nicely cooked.

Did you get the meatball sandwich recently? They told me in the past they usually put it in the menu during the winter and change it to the chicken parm during the summer. I had it one time a long long time ago and never saw it on the menu again.

1 Like

Hi @A5KOBE,

Thanks. Yah we’re so glad Gjusta is back. :slight_smile:

Yes, we got the Meatball Sub last week (and I ordered it prior to that maybe… 2 months ago as well). Enjoy! :slight_smile:

1 Like

Gotta make my way back to Gjusta. I haven’t been in almost 2 years. Sounds like they may have lost some staff during the pandemic and things went downhill briefly. The smoked fish, prime rib, desserts and breads all look fantastic. @Chowseeker1999 I noticed you didn’t have that many salads or sides in your pictures. Are they not offering as many salad/sides in the case?

1 Like

Hi @js76wisco ,

Oh they still have a few Market Salads. :wink: We used to meet up with friends (so we could order more for “research” / to try and be more useful for you all), but with the pandemic, we’re just dining outside by ourselves mostly, so we haven’t been able to order as many dishes each visit.

So far it seems they’re back and all the dishes we had were delicious. Thanks. :slight_smile:

1 Like

I was there this past Saturday and they were basically sold out of all salads while I was there but they might have been making more because it was around 3PM.

The smoked salmon was absolutely delectable as was the banana cream pie. The key lime pie was average, wish it had more of a key lime pinch of acidity.

1 Like

Thanks for the report back @A5KOBE :slight_smile: I loved their banana cream pie a few years ago. Good to know it’s still great and their smoked salmon is just consistent. :slight_smile: I haven’t seen the key lime pie before, but good to know. Thanks!

1 Like
“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold