Noah Holton-Raphael, Max Bahramipour, and Jack Biebel grew up in Montclair, New Jersey, a town where The Sopranos frequently filmed and Italian sandwiches are gospel. The longtime friends felt like L.A. would benefit from their bread-framed perspectives and partnered on Ggiata last spring. Their sandwich concept started by delivering from Travis Kalanick’s CloudKitchens, a sprawling, white, subdivided commissary across from a Harvard Heights cemetery. To execute their vision, they hired Olivia Bin, a native Angeleno who was working as a private chef for high-profile entertainment industry clients. They recently opened a fast-casual, counter-service shop near Paramount Studios in Hollywood.
Ggiata makes the most of a small space in a brick building with high ceiling and exposed wood beams. The East Coast flavor includes paintings of playground basketball games and hand-painted posters with quotes and keywords like “New Jersey” and “Family First!” Outside, a counter with stools lines the western wall. Inside, a counter display case is filled with sweets like chocolate chip cookies and an olive oil cake cooked up by pastry chef Cristy Erickson.
A relaxing Italian phrase inspired the name. “A passeggiata is a leisurely stroll that families take typically in the evenings, with the sole purpose being to greet your neighbors and catch up on the town hearsay,” Bin says. “We wanted to recreate this idea through our restaurant, and build a place for people to stop in on their passeggiata.”
At Ggiata, don’t expect the type of hyper-masculine scene like you’d witness outside Satriale’s Pork Store on The Sopranos. Ggiata is male-owned, but Bin runs the kitchen and they celebrate women with many menu items. Sandwiches like the Antonia, Lorri, and Madeline all name-check either sisters or mothers of the founders. “The three boys each grew up in primarily female households, and this was their homage to the strong women in their lives,” Bin says. The chef also created a signature Olivia sandwich that combines pesto chicken salad, mozzarella, sun-dried tomato spread, pickled onions, and arugula on ciabatta.
“Ggiata’s menu is designed to bring a sense of home to those missing their local East Coast deli while utilizing the amazing produce of California,” Bin says. “Every sandwich on our menu needs to represent both those elements equally.”
They source ciabatta and custom-made sesame baguettes from Bread Lounge for sandwiches like the Spicy P ($16). This play on chicken Parm touts colors from the Italian flag—red, white, and green—and lavishes crispy chicken cutlets with spicy vodka sauce, molten mozzarella, sharp grated Pecorino Romano, basil pesto, and basil leaves on a sturdy toasted sesame baguette.
The Classic Italian ($15) resembles a traditional East Coast cold cut sandwich, but with some key differences and more kick. They stack ham, salami, hot capicola, and smoked Muenster on a charred sesame baguette, bolstering with shredded escarole and onion and heirloom tomato. Red wine vinaigrette, Calabrian chilies, and Calabrian aioli provide welcome piquancy and heat.
Ggiata’s small selection of salads and sides includes Bin’s silky beef and pork meatballs ($12) seasoned with ingredients like chile flakes, black pepper, rosemary, parsley, and fennel. They arrive in a shallow pool of pomodoro with a Pecorino Romano shower and charred ciabatta in a paper bag.
Visitors will also notice a sandwich called The Draper on the menu, the result of an order that Jon Hamm placed last summer. Holton-Raphael later received a text from the actor, who played iconic Mad Men character Don Draper, saying, “Phenomenal sandwiches man!!” Ggiata later texted Hamm about working with them on a campaign to raise money for Martin Luther King Jr. Community Hospital in South L.A. The chicken cutlet sandwich with prosciutto di Parma, stracciatella, lettuce, and balsamic on a sesame baguette remains available.
A message on the front door reminds diners that Ggiata was “conceived in Montclair, NJ,” but Chef Bin and the owners make it clear that their neighborhood deli is an L.A. original.
Ggiata, 5009 Melrose Ave., Hollywood, 323-798-5713.
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