In today’s social media world, the term #gamechanger is used so often and so hyperbolically that it has lost most, if not all, of its literal impact. That’s a shame, since when you encounter someplace or something that has actual transformative power, using trite hashtag doesn’t really do justice.
But what the hell, we’ll try anyways: Gjusta, the brand new Venice bakery and deli from the people behind Gjelina, is a bonafide #gamechanger.
Located just around the corner from the Google’s Venice headquarters, the view of Gjusta from the street is rather unremarkable, a white-washed warehouse with a set of accordion-style windows along its front. Step inside, however, and you’ll find yourself in a massive kitchen space, illuminated by large skylights that wash the room in sunlight.
The main counter stretches the span of building, offering fresh breads, fruit pies, bialys, croissants, quiches, porridge, granola, smoked and cured meats and fish, sandwiches, salads, soups. Each section has several attendants, who like personal shoppers will guide you along the case selecting what combination array of things you want to order.
What is most impressive about Gjusta is the sheer breadth of its menu. Pastry chef and former general manager of Gjelina Take Away Nicole Rucker, goes full on H.A.M. in the baked goods department, offering gorgeous loaves of sourdough and whole wheat bread, kambocha-chocolate cake, kale-gruyere scones, zaatar and onion bialys (like bagels, but baked not boiled) and delicate, flaky croissants stuffed with chocolate or honey-pistachio.
In a deli case a few feet down sits filets of cold-smoked lox, kippered salmon, pastrami gravlax, smoked trout, oil-cured Japanese sardines, and Dutch-style pickled herring. You’ll also find rabbit terrine, pork head testa, pate campagne and chicklen liver mousse—all house-made. For fans of cured meats, it’s a blissful spread (and yes, the staff are happy to give you samples). The sandwich station holds more delights: prime rib, smoked brisket, porchetta, pastrami, merguez, meatloaf, chicken parm, falafels, and more.
At the far end, is a coffee station where 49th Parallel espresso and coffee is poured and house-made almond milk is the creamer of choice.
Gjusta’s biggest limitation so far (besides it’s oddball name, pronounced JOO-STA) is the lack of seating. Currently there is only a long marble counter at the coffee bar where you can stand and wolf down breakfast sandwiches, like the english muffin with bacon, cheese, fried egg, and pesto. In the next month or so though, Gjusta hopes to have it’s back patio open, a brick-lined area that’s under construction.
Even on its second day in business, Gjusta is one of the most ambitious bakery and delis to open in Los Angeles in recent memory. Locals are taking immediate notice, of course, with early morning crowds already packing it from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily.
According to staff members, there are early plans for a restaurant and bar in the rear of Gjusta, but nothing has been finalized yet. That’s probably fine, though, since the wide array of Gjusta’s bounty already offers plenty to digest.
Gjusta, 320 Sunset Ave., Venice