The family and I decided to try out Stella recently. It’s weird, a new Neal Brown joint, and I really have not read much press about it. It’s in the old Pizzology on Mass Ave space, and while it is a new menu, it still has a distinctly Italian theme. No pizza, and they are using those ovens to roast veggies and chicken and bake bread. The price point is higher than Pizzology as well, although not outrageous.
We were given a couple of plates of bread with the butter of the day, which involved honey and pomegranate as well as some olive oil. The bread is fabulous. It has a nice soft center and a pleasant thick, crispy crust. I didn’t think I would go in for the butter, because it was sweet, but I liked it. It had a bit of a salty edge that cut through the sweetness.
We had a couple of the crudos—the hamachi ($7) and the tuna ($8). The fish was good, and I liked the black sea salt on both, giving it a nice crunch as well as saltiness. The hamachi was served with oil and a side of horseradish and the tuna with oil and a swash of mustard. If I were going to improve the dishes, I would spread the fish out a bit so all the pieces get seasoned—and I would love to see a little something else with it—avocado or something. And acid. They both could have benefited from acid. But you knew I’d say that. We enjoyed them both though, particularly the tuna. We fought over the 5 pieces. They have a wide variety of charcuterie as well, and my daughter enjoyed the Calabrese salame ($5). It was served with more of the bread.
For main dishes, we got several of the pastas and the roasted chicken. The roasted chicken ($22) was very good. Love the super crisp skin on it from being in the wood fired ovens. It was seasoned nicely with herbs as well and had this rich delicious broth underneath the chicken, which is what made the dish. Besides a few greens though, nothing comes with the chicken, so if you aren’t sharing a bunch of pasta with your family like I was, you will probably want a side dish. We ordered a side of the roasted cauliflower with pine nuts, pickled chili and breadcrumbs ($7). It wasn’t bad, but I would have loved more pickled chilis. It just came across a little on the bland side—much of it went uneaten.
The best pasta dish of the night was the linguine and clams ($21). The flavor that was made from the buttery sauce and some goat cheese and lots of garlic was great. It had a really great flavor and small, well-cooked clams. We all really enjoyed this dish, one of the best linguine and clams in the city I think.
My daughter’s papardelle with white wine braised rabbit, crème fraiche and mustard ($21) was also very tasty. I loved the kick from the mustard and the creamy slightly acidic taste from the crème fraiche. The pasta was very tender and good. The rabbit also very tender.
We also had the rigatoni with chicken liver, Cynar and sage ($21). This one was our least favorite. Although hubby and I love chicken livers, and realize the richness that they carry, the dish was just a bit over the top in its richness, with nothing that really cut through it.
We also had dessert and they were all good. The slated butterscotch sundae ($6) was the clear winner. It was simple with ice cream and the salted butterscotch sauce, but you can’t really go wrong here. My daughter enjoyed her scoop of mint strawberry ice cream ($3) as well—she said it was very minty, which she likes. The rhubarb tart ($7) was tasty and I appreciated the tartness of just using rhubarb, although hubby thought it was a little too tart for him. It was also simple but tasty.
I have been menu watching at Stella since their opening this winter, and the one thing I am surprised about is I don’t think there’s really been any changes made, other than in the fruit in the dessert. I would love to see perhaps some more summery types of choices over some of the pretty heavy items that are still on the menu currently (like osso bucco and the chicken liver pasta). And strangely, there are really no cold salad type items except for the crudo. I think seasonal changes could really benefit the menu and make me more excited for a return visit. Oh, and they take reservations which is great, and they are also doing Saturday brunch, which I would like to try.
I still think it’s odd how little I have heard or read about this place. Fill me in on if you have been and what you had.
611 East Street