Gjelina – Venice, CA
Formerly at Westwood’s W hotel, liberated chef Travis Lett, is in this Venice spot, with its quirky chandeliers, unvarnished wood appointments, and cozy courtyard, his cooking has taken on an elemental quality that revolves around the wood-fired oven. Vegetables such as cauliflower and sunchokes are roasted before being accented with chile flakes or charred rosemary. A pepper-spiked sauce adds a fiery glow to brandade croquettes. Smoked tomato butter does something wickedly good to flatiron steak with grilled beets.
On private Hollywood tours, pizza is often a comparative coastal analysis filled with passion and a touch of ego. I always try to lead people in to a “not better, just different” frame of mind. The long wait for a seat—the pair of communal tables by the bar are overflowing as well—is worth it in a restaurant imbued with such devotion to craft. » 1429 Abbot Kinney Blvd. , Venice , 310-450-1429.