Facebook Thumbnail

Brussel Sprout salad
Stella Offerings
Stella Outside
Yummy Pork Thing

Lori Tyler came home from Italy convinced of three things: she loved Italian food and wine, she loved the idea of a meal as a social event, and she wanted her own Italian restaurant one day.

In April 2010, more than 20 years after she studied in Rome, Tyler opened Stella Modern Italian Cuisine in Midtown.

Located right on the edge of Heritage Hills, Stella is an upscale casual restaurant where guests dine in jeans and tee shirts alongside couples dressed up for the ballet or symphony. “We want people to think of Stella as a neighborhood restaurant,” Tyler said. “I call it casual elegance. Just be comfortable. A meal is a social event shared with friends and family.”

“We emphasize the ‘modern’ aspect,” Tyler said. “For many people, Italian means spaghetti and meatballs or lasagna. That’s more Italian-American, and we are trying to create authentic, modern Italian dishes.”

Executive Chef Jonathan Krell and Tyler collaborate to create remarkable dishes that are faithful to the restaurant’s Italian ethos, but they feel free to put modern twists in their menu. That freedom to improvise leads to dishes like Mussels and Brussels, a fixture on the starter menu. Green-lipped mussels are tossed with roasted brussel sprouts, pancetta, arugula, and saffron aioli. The result is a rich, hearty seafood appetizer with a delicious blend of flavors and textures.

The menu preserves many of Tyler’s memories of Italy, both with its selection of Roman-style pizzas and some traditional Italian dishes. Tyler changes the menu seasonally to ensure fresh and locally-sourced ingredients (when possible), but a few items appear during all seasons, including the veal osso bucco. The classic dish, a roasted veal shank, is served in the modern style, with tomatoes, gremolata (chopped herbs), onions, and red wine reduction, over creamy polenta.

The first thing guests see when they enter Stella is the pizza oven. It’s on “the curve,” as Tyler calls the area of the bar where guests can watch one of the cooks make each pizza by hand from scratch. The Roman-style pizzas are based around a very thin, crispy crust. The menu features eight different pizzas, and there is a pizza addition every day.

The Italian meat pizza is a very popular choice, especially for Tyler’s husband, Ty Tyler. Pepperoni, salami, Italian sausage, and capicola are accompanied by hot cherry peppers, red sauce and mozzarella. Grab a glass of Moscato d’Asti or Prosecco to complement the heat from the peppers and capicola.

Stella’s wine list features hand-selected wines only. Tyler sits down with wine brokers and personally tastes all the wines on her menu. Storage is in short supply at Stella, so the wine list rotates regularly, and the small list focuses on quality wines from Italy and the U.S.

Alice Cottrell designed Stella’s interior. She began her design career more than 25 years ago, and has since worked for Donald Trump and the St. Regis Hotel. Knoll chairs and Eames chairs add a modern but comfortable feel to Stella’s dining and bar areas. The Fornasetti wallpaper, Italian window shears, and the Venetian light fixtures in the bar give Stella an authentic Italian ambience.

Reservations are recommended for lunch and dinner. The lunch menu is very affordable, and guests are typically served efficiently, making Stella a good lunch choice for downtown and midtown clientele.

Post Viewed 1,844 Times.