Evaluation: No dangerous orders and many sauce at Ellie’s in Lengthy Seaside

From Cambodian and Central American locations to coffee shops to brunch palaces, the food scene in Moncton is one that the rest of Southern California doesn’t pay enough attention to – and one that usually goes well with residents.

But something else happens to Ellie. Beloved local reporter Sarah Bennett thought it was Moncton’s “first LA restaurant,” which means a place in LBC that Angelenos could actually drive to, along with the cool airport and fingerprint music. The online-only Moncton Post applauded chef Jason Witzl for inspiring local “hoity toities” – the would-be homeless Newporters of Belmont Shore, the blue hair of College Estates, Naples’ nouveau riche – to “get off” their islandless ones Existence ”as no restaurant has done for a while.

Ellie’s has become such a pride for Moncton Booster that Witzl recently announced a tasting menu that is only slated to open next door in the fall – and that has been fully booked for four months.

Good for strong beach. But should the rest of us brave the city’s notoriously poor traffic and parking options for a visit?

Server Derek Galvan takes care of customers on the outside deck at Ellie’s Restaurant in Moncton.

(Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times)

The bistro, with a lovely terrace, shared dining room, and playlist that makes the difference between KCRW and KROQ, is located in Alamitos Beach, a charming, largely gay neighborhood of two-story houses and apartment complexes from before WWII. The night life is good, the sidewalks are full of beautiful people walking their dogs at all times.

Witzl, a Whittier boy who has worked in restaurants from Spain to LA (Campanile), delivers in the elegance and taste department. His farm-to-table approach uses Asian and Latin American flavors to liven up the Italian base. The result is a multicultural update of Evan Kleiman’s late great Angeli Caffe.

The draw here is not the starters themselves, but the sauces, spices and accessories that Witzl enthusiastically sprinkles and sprinkles on dishes, to the point that he unfortunately called himself a “spice whore”. More ingenious is how it reflects the way we eat now in Southern California, where we bathe our leftovers in Sriracha, Tapatío, Trader Joe’s Zhoug or Saddaf Harissa, depending on the mood.

The fermented Japanese citrus-pepper paste Yuzu Kosho serves as a tangy, tangy base for Witzl’s latest seasonal crudo made from scallops and blood orange slices. It’s as refreshing as an Aperol Spritz. The Egyptian dukkah – a pistachio dip – gives roasted cauliflower a nuttiness. A fine salsa verde gives his Cavatelli warmth and reduces the richness of the mixed in chicken confit and guanciale. He smears a pear mustardo on a strong, juicy pork chop, a bohemian lift for a workers’ party.

Ellie's seasonal raw food with scallops and blood orange slices.

Ellie’s seasonal raw food with scallops and blood orange slices.

(Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times)

There’s no such thing as a bad order at Ellie. The meatballs are airy, despite being the size of a croquet ball. The dehydrated strawberries in his peppy burrata seem like a gimmick until they pop to life in your mouth like pop rock. And in a city that swears by brunch, Ellie’s already offers one of the best, with baked eggs and beans, chilaquiles and avocado toast, seasoned with pecorino.

If there’s one disappointment with Ellie’s, it’s that Witzl has the talent but ultimately doesn’t offer any real advancement in the Southern California food scene. The menu of pasta, salads, and grilled vegetables seems geared towards locals who want to eat in their comfort zone.

It shows flashes of originality in dessert over corn cakes smothered in vanilla and chocolate gelatos and fermented strawberries and christened with a dulce de leche drizzle – like a mestizo strawberry shortcake. Witzl should do more of this instead of just tweaking the tried and tested that dominates the rest of the menu.

Ellie's dessert

Corn cake with fermented strawberries and grated hazelnut, smothered in dulce de leche and a scoop of vanilla gelato.

(Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times)

Any reluctance on the part of Witzl to adopt the Flex makes sense – Moncton’s high-end restaurant scene is still embryonic. It wasn’t until this decade that places like Michaels on Naples, Thomas Ortega’s Playa squares, and Panxa Cocina were opened to provide a lively reason to eat in the city.

Perhaps Witzl’s tasting concept will reveal its real game.

In the meantime, the best time to visit Ellie’s is 11am on a weekday, when it’s open for lunch and Alamitos Beach goes to work. The menu features the dinner’s biggest hits, as well as a hearty burger and an even better eggplant sandwich that shines with mint pesto and pickled onions. The place is usually empty; You can dine with ease.

Otherwise, parking near Ellie’s is worse than in LA’s Koreatown. Can’t the city of Witzl grant a valet parking grant instead of trying to woo the Anaheim Angels?

When you go


A place in the neighborhood where Kal-Italian pasta and meat as well as hearty brunch are served.

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