New Yorkers have been waiting for the Los Angeles restaurant Gjelina to open on Bond Street for seven years. So waiting in line for a breakfast or lunch table—dinner is not served, at least not yet—isn’t so much to ask. Especially since the waiting area is enclosed in a cedar-lined holding shed that smells like a Japanese spa, and the people-watching is very, very good.

Once inside, a first-time diner might feel like a five-year-old who has waited patiently for a Disney ride for an hour and a half: Will it be as good as the Frozen in my mind?

In a nod to the original location, Gjelina has an open kitchen, counter seating, and a wood-burning pizza oven. The clientele is almost uniformly attractive and emits a low-key hum of importance. The NoHo menu shares a few dishes with its Venice counterpart, although New York is months (if not more) behind California when it comes to the produce that put Gjelina on the map. When it opened, in 2008, it served unfussy yet flavor-architected Mediterranean-ish food that leaned toward big flavors and small farms—Chez Panisse in Japanese denim and a $200 T-shirt.

Lemon-buckwheat-ricotta pancakes with crème fraîche and blueberry compote alongside a smoked-salmon plate with herbed goat labneh and pickles.

This morning in Venice, they’re having squash-blossom omelettes; in New York, the menu includes duck-and-root-vegetable hash with a crispy egg ($22). No actual suffering, but a local kumquat would be nice.

Gjelina’s long lead-up (original partners included the Spotted Pig’s Ken Friedman and April Bloomfield) means that it’s had time to put down roots, establishing connections with farmers and dialing in the design of the two-story space. It can feel like New York, Copenhagen, or Brussels, depending on which zone or bathroom you’re in. There’s the snug front café, the barside counter seating, the jumbled front room upstairs, or the softer, brighter, quieter space upstairs in back, which feels like it’s being prepped for private events and V.I.P.’s not used to shouting over share plates.

The lunch menu is long yet focused, devoting the most space to vegetables and pizzas. Diners can go easy or tank their days, as a nearby group downing cocktails and twirling einkorn pappardelle with brisket ragù was intent on doing.

California attitude arrives in downtown Manhattan.

Others might share a photogenic mackerel crudo ($20), the fanned slices of black-and-white-skinned fish bisected with a pale stripe of fermented leeks and another of chili-confettied yuzu kosho. Slicing into a tender head of roasted arrowhead cabbage with bagna cauda and breadcrumbs ($18) is also a good idea. And it might be wise to ask for another linen napkin while enjoying a smoked-turkey sandwich ($24) with pickled golden beets on griddled sourdough toast rendered translucent by mustard aioli.

Dessert could be a buttermilk panna cotta with candied sesame and tahini, or a modest glass of fig-leaf ice cream—a wink to California that leads one down a sourcing rabbit hole. Did they ship the leaves? What else was in the box? Does this mean they might put the date cake with whiskey caramel and ginger gelato on the menu, too?

Speaking of favorites, for lovers of the Venice location, the meatballs have not yet arrived. Same goes for the chicken with kale, although they are in the cookbook, if that’s any consolation.

Saffron chitarra with bottarga, confit tomato, garlic, chili, and breadcrumbs.

But anyone who’s cooked from the previous chef Travis Lett’s Gjelina: Cooking from Venice, California, with its frequent sub-recipes and specific techniques, knows that however casual it may look, this is Restaurant Food. Even the closest thing to a margherita pizza uses confit tomato. (Just add burrata.)

Gjelina is the restaurant of the moment before it’s even fully opened. The staffing is sweet if bumpy; the kitchen is getting up to speed. But the ride is worth the wait. And if the industry rumors that their sister take-out shop, Gjusta, will open nearby are true, reserve a season pass.

Christine Muhlke, a former editor for The New York Times and Bon Appétit, is a co-author of Wine Simple, with Le Bernardin’s Aldo Sohm, and a co-author of Phaidon’s Signature Dishes That Matter. She is also the founder of culinary consultancy Bureau X and creator of the Xtine newsletter