Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Stella Barra

Location: 1954 N Halsted
Cost: About $20 per person

In another edition of early bird Sunday night dinner with the Pearls, I bring you my write up on a new Lettuce Entertain You spot, Stella Barra. My dad wanted pizza and something easy. Since we'd recently gone to Pequod's, I suggested we mix things up. Jenny came with us too.

Stella Barra is in this new building that used to be Tilly's just south of Armitage on Halsted. It's part of a two restaurant building with a shared entrance. The feel is very family friendly with plenty of kids tossing dough at the counter for entertainment. It wasn't too loud, and there was a nice dim to the lights making you feel somewhat in your own world. There's plenty of street parking, which brings me to my first issue of the night. I parked in a well marked pay for parking spot just north of the valet zone. The valet came over and asked for my keys, and I refused since I was in the legal pay for parking zone. He then cursed at me and blamed me for causing trouble by ruining the valet zone. I thought this interaction was ridiculous for so many reasons, and thankfully the manager of the restaurant assured me that they wouldn't key my car. Once inside, the wait staff was great. We had a reservation too, which I suggest you make, at least while there's some hype.

The Food
We got the ball rolling with the house bread as well as the Burrata. The bread had this great textural contrast from crust to inside. The burrata was extra creamy and oily. It came with some delicious grapes, but I couldn't grip them because they were so oily. We also got the Heirloom Spinach and Purple Kale salad which was lightly dressed with an interesting spin from some dates and pecorino.

The Burrata

 The Heirloom Spinach and Purple Kale Salad

Then we split the Butternut Squash Pizza, the Margherita Pizza, and the Turkey Meatballs. The meatballs came in a thick sauce that stuck to the bones (your bones, there were no bones in the meatballs). I think these would have made Schneider proud, and I didn't even have to do the dishes. The pizza crusts were chewy with a nice variable crisp at burnt points. The sauce on the margherita was too sweet for me. The butternut squash had a complex group of flavors but there was this musty smell that I couldn't get past.

The Meatball

 The Butternut Squash Pizza

The Margherita Pizza

For dessert we ordered this caramel panna cotta concoction of sorts. It was creamy and all, but the sweetness was overwhelming.

Our meal at Stella Barra got off to a great start with the appetizer course and peaked right there. With a ton of places in Chicago making great thin crust / brick oven pizza, I wasn't all that blown away here. I'm giving them 2 out of 5 Pearls.

Stella Barra Pizzeria on Urbanspoon


  1. The 'musty" smell on the butternut squash pizza is the fresh sage on the pizza. Just thought you and your readers should know ; )

  2. You're probably right. Still, as someone who used to grow sage in his backyard, I would say the smell was "mustier" than I expected.

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