Tucked into a residential neighborhood on Orange Avenue off Broadway in an unassuming yet charming setting, Ellie’s offers up some of the best food available in Long Beach.
Jason Witzl is the owner/chef, so who’s Ellie? Ellie is Witzl’s grandmother.
However, unlike most chefs, Witzl didn’t learn to cook from his grandmother. He learned how to eat. He could always get a full meal from his grandmother, no matter what time it was.
“If I showed up, my grandfather would say, ‘He’s hungry, He needs a meal,’ “ Witzl said. “And my grandmother would cook me a full meal.”
ABOUT THE FOOD
It’s mostly Italian food, with a farm-to-table emphasis. Pastas are made on site. Standouts are the yam appetizer, Stracciatella Ravioli and the Ellie’s burger.
The yam ($10) is served with fried egg aioli, picked red onion, sesame seeds and herbs. Add a squeeze of lemon and, as chefs like to say, “It’s a party in your mouth,” with constantly changing flavors coming forward.
The ravioli is another truly mouth-watering combination of flavors including burrata, truffle oil and topped with perfectly crunchy fried kale.
Ellie’s Burger ($15) is Flannery Prime Beef (it comes from the legendary San Francisco-based company), which includes aioli, cheddar cheese, melted onion and greens. It’s flipped upside down during the cooking process to provide a special texture and mixture of flavors.
Desserts are made on site and high points are the bread pudding, squash cake (like a Carrot cake, according to Witzl) and a Greek Yogurt Panna Cotta, which is similar to a flan. It’s flavored with winter citrus, poppy seeds and aged balsamic.
They also offer fresh seafood, like the Branzino Bass. Witzl said to prove it’s the real thing right out of the ocean, it’s served with the head on.
Witzl creates new dishes each week with ingredients picked up at the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market. The staff tastes each dish and rates them 1 to 10. To make it onto the menu, a dish must average at least at 8.5.
WHY LONG BEACH
Witzl comes to Long Beach from Herringbone in Santa Monica.
“My wife and I wanted to start a restaurant in L.A. and we were looking at an expenditure of more than a million dollars,” he said. “When we looked closely at the proposal, we found out that I could be fired from my own restaurant.”
So they ended up in Long Beach in the former location of the At Last Café.’
“There’s lots of foot traffic here,” Witzl said. “It’s a good restaurant town and our employees can actually live where they work, which I think is important."
Ellie’s has been open about three months. As an owner, he said he’s learned it’s not about the chef. It’s about the customers.
“It’s important to let the people speak," Witzl said. "We want to under-promise and over-deliver.”
Witzl provides a unique take on a prix fix dinner. For $25, diners select a pasta and Witzl choses the appetizer and dessert.
IMPORTANT TO KNOW
Allow some extra time for parking.
It’s wine and beer at Ellie’s, 204 Orange Ave. They open weekdays at 11 a.m. and at 10:30 on weekends. There’s outside dining and they’re dog-friendly. Ellie’s takes reservations. The phone number is (562) 437-4837 and the website is https://ellieslbc.com.