Backyard Barbecue Elevated

Charcoal Venice creates a communal space with a Sunday supper vibe

Written by Michelle Lyn | Photos courtesy of Dylan + Jeni

Chef Josiah Citrin’s latest culinary venture marks a departure from his two Michelin-starred restaurant, Mélisse, in Santa Monica. Whereas Mélisse reflects Citrin’s refined French cuisine, Charcoal Venice is a more casual concept that channels the Westside native’s roots and passion for good-old backyard grilling.

Designed with this notion in mind, the minimalistic space on Washington Boulevard is centered on live-fire cuisine. Utilizing woods typically used for grilling, such as hickory, walnut and white oak, the restaurant’s décor incorporates pops of black, red, pink, gray and white to illustrate the evolution of burning charcoal. Communal tables underscore the spirit of socialization, along with a regularly rotating gallery of art illuminated by lighting fixtures resembling grill tops.

Through a large framed window diners can glimpse the bustling open kitchen beyond the bar, which reveals three different ovens and grills, including the charcoal-fueled Josper Oven, Big Green Egg and Kamado-style cooker.

Guests might not know the difference between these tools and a standard grill, but they will certainly taste it in signature dishes like Prawns grilled over charcoal with carrot juice, tamarind and rosemary; Smoky Grilled Chicken Wings with oregano, chile and vinegar; and Oysters baked with seaweed, salted butter and horseradish in the Josper Oven.

Inspired by quintessential barbecue cuisine that patrons would want to eat every day, the menu focuses on high-quality proteins and locally sourced vegetables grilled simply. Dishes are served family-style, making Charcoal Venice inviting and approachable, while never forsaking the caliber of chefs in the kitchen.

“This is the type of casual concept I’ve always wanted to open,” Citrin says. “It’s the food that I prepare for my friends and family in my backyard on the weekend. Not too fancy, just delicious food that you crave.”

Day to day, Citrin’s protégé from Mélisse, Chef de Cuisine Joseph Johnson, helms the kitchen. During his tutelage, Johnson learned from Citrin never to be satisfied with an item on the menu, even if it was a staple. As for his personal culinary philosophy, he says, “I like to let the quality of the raw ingredients speak for themselves, without too much manipulation. Although I may add complementary flavors to enhance the ingredient, I want guests to taste the purity of these fresh farmers’ market items.”

True to form, the menu’s “Garden” section reads like a farmers’ market inventory with items like fennel, radish, pumpkin, collard greens, sweet potatoes, blue lake beans and, of course, just like such a market, the menu changes daily.

To solidify Charcoal Venice’s commitment to fostering a family environment, a note on the menu states that prices were increased four percent to cover the cost of full healthcare benefits for employees, an added touch that endears the restaurant\ as a new Westside favorite, one that honors the connection between the people who make—and eat—its food.

Charcoal Venice
425 W. Washington Boulevard
Venice, CA 90292
310.751.6794 |

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