Nicole Rucker, who I first met when she was a Caffe Luxxe barista with the last name of Mournian, is on a fast track to baking greatness. She became head baker for Gjelina Take Away, earned four victories at the 2012 Good Food Pie Contest and walked away from the 2013 National Pie Championship in Orlando with a blue ribbon, which she documented in a documentary called Pie Fidelity (now complete). Now, her prodigious talents are on display at Gjusta, a Venice side street bakery and deli from chef Travis Lett and business partner Fran Camaj. Pass through the rustic front door and find an airy space with wood floors, reclaimed wood, marble counters and skylights. Smartly, Rucker’s pies are one of the first options among the many glass-shielded display cases. Of course she bakes seasonal fruit pies, which fit with Team Gjelina’s ethos. Rucker also rotates interesting savory pies into the mix, including chicken, rabbit, duck, vegetable curry, and one of her 2012 award winners: Pork & Pea Pie.
Pork & Pea Pie ($13) features a flaky, butter-based crust with a golden, rosemary-littered lid, which contains well seasoned pork shoulder chunks, oregano, rosemary, carrots, sweet tart green apple, and of course peas. The pie could easily be a meal, but considering all the other tantalizing items topping Gjusta’s counters, you might as well continue consumption.
Dose of Vitamin P spotlights my favorite pork dish from the previous week.
March 7, 2015 at 7:57 AM
After several visits, I finally got a chance to try the pork pie. Oh my… so good! I’ve also tried the lamb and curried vegetable pies, but the pork is clearly the winner. Honestly, though, I’ve yet to order anything from Gjusta that isn’t outstanding. The porchetta melt and chicken parm may be my favorite sandwiches in LA right now.
March 9, 2015 at 9:42 AM
Bigmouth, It sure sounds like you’re a believer in Gjusta. Try the chile-rubbed rotisserie chicken when you get a chance, which might be their best value.