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Restaurant Review: Stella in Los Angeles

At the new restaurant in West Hollywood, chef Rob Gentile and restaurateur Janet Zuccarini have created the ultimate date night spot with odes to Italian regional cuisines.

cacio e pepe pasta

Strozzapreti cacio e pepe with black truffle. Photo: Jakob Layman

Something special is happening in Los Angeles. Italian cuisine, which has always been a staple of Angeleno’s diets, has become a juggernaut in the past twenty years. With standouts like Bestia, Osteria Mozza, Gucci Osteria, Pizzana, Angelini Osteria, Rossoblu, Funke, The Factory Kitchen, and so many more, it’s hard to argue that there’s a better Italian food city in America (yes, including New York), when you break down the sheer volume of pizza joints, red sauce spots, regional Italian specialties, and more. 

The latest restaurant to join this freight train of Italian food is Stella. Helmed by Chef Rob Gentile, with backing from famed restaurateur Janet Zuccarini (Felix), Stella is an ode to specific regions of Italy (Calabria, Toscana, Campagna, Lazio, etc.) with all the bells and whistles of what’s sure to become the trendiest spot in the city.

Roman-style pizza
Pizzas at Stella are Romana alla Palla, served with scissors to slice your own pieces. Photo: Jakob Layman

Walking in, you find a rather quiet, refined space with sliding glass doors, a bar, and booths. But as the hostess leads you downstairs into the belly of this Italian beast, you’re met with an open kitchen with fire breathing from grills, a unified staff laboring over meticulously plated dishes, an enclosed pasta making station (à la Felix), a bustling bar, and excited diners lapping up pastas and pizzas. 

The energy is sexual (bring all your dates here) and is reminiscent of some New York standouts like the acclaimed Torrisi in Manhattan by the famed Major Food Group. And Stella is a well-oiled machine is a powerhouse of exciting dishes you won’t find in other Italian spots, which is a nice change in a sea of copycats in the city.

There are some must-haves on the menu. The Nodini is the perfect garlic knot (don’t fill up). The Carpaccio di Branzino is fileted tableside and doused with lemon, olive oil, and shaved salt (it’s maybe my favorite dish). The Spizzulus pasta with mini meatballs, Parmigiano, and sweet butter is a bite you’ll want to take slowly to savor every moment.

tortellin in brodo
Tortellini in brodo at Stella. Photo: Jakob Layman

Pizzas here are Romana alla Pala – meaning thin, crispy, simple. The waitstaff at Stella hand you sharp scissors to cut your own slices and to transport you to places like Bonci Pizzarium in Rome. The mark of a good pizza chef in this particular style is the bite between where the crust meets the rest of the slice. If you do this wrong, the bite will come off like cardboard. You do it right and it tears nicely, a mix of crunchy and chewy in all the right ways. Chef Gentile nails it.

Sadly, the Su Filindeu was not on the menu for the night I dined. But if you’re unfamiliar with this pasta, its nickname is the ‘Threads of God’ and is one of the rarest pastas in the world. I plan on coming back to try it, but just attempting it takes a tremendous amount of chutzpah – so we’ll have to see. 

Interior of Stella
Stella, in West Hollywood, offers a refined interior that roars to life when the restaurant fills with hungry diners. Photo: Jakob Layman

Service was exceptional, attentive, and knowledgeable. The restaurant has found their groove in a very short period of time (it opened in late February), and credit to the chef and his team for ironing out any kinks quickly. 

Simply put, this was one of my favorite meals of the year so far. The atmosphere was fun, the service outstanding, the food exceptional and different. I can’t wait to come back and try the other half of the menu – and I recommend dining with a larger group so you can share as many plates as possible. 

Go Eat!

8899 Beverly Blvd., West Hollywood, CA 90048, @stellawesthollywood

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