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Inside Stella, One among L.A’s Most Anticipated—and Controversial—Restaurant Openings This Yr

Inside Stella, One among L.A’s Most Anticipated—and Controversial—Restaurant Openings This Yr

Los Angeles certainly doesn’t want for Italian restaurants. But that hasn’t stopped chefs and restaurateurs from opening pizza and pasta palaces in the city of stars.

The latest is Stella, from Rob Gentile and Janet Zuccarini (who’s behind another L.A. Italian fave, Felix Trattoria). The two have teamed up on the restaurant—whose name fittingly means “star”—to bring Angelenos a menu inspired by the “traveling hearth” traditions of Italy’s coastal and pastoral communities. That translates into a seasonal menu of modern Italian dishes made with quintessentially Californian ingredients.


Jakob Layman

There are small plates like bruschetta with Jyan Isaac bread, grilled winter heirloom tomatoes and pecorino; burrata with Canadian olive oil; and branzino crudo that’s carved table-side, finished with Franciacorta, Meyer lemon, olive oil, and salt from Cervia. House-made pastas include the rare su filindeu (“threads of God”), and come in versions like cacio e pepe with black truffle, tortellini in brodo, and cresc’tajat al polenta with Dungeness crab, guanciale, trout roe, and agretti.

Wood-fired pizzas feature all sorts of toppings, from baby octopus and ‘nduja to wild mushrooms and gorgonzola to a carbonara pie with guanciale and a hen’s yolk. Larger mains encompass octopus, scallops, and coho salmon on the seafood side, and steak, duck, and pork on the meat side.

As far as drinks go, there’s a large selection of Italian wines, as well as several different Negroni and Martini variations. Pick your poison, and bask in the Wendy Haworth–designed space, with the upstairs evoking a light and bright mood, thanks to a large terrace and sliding glass doors. Downstairs, the vibe is slightly darker, with walnut walls and terrazzo floors.

Burrata e tartuffo pizza

Burrata e tartuffo pizza

Jakob Layman

Stella’s opening has been mired in some controversy, with allegations of workplace misconduct hounding Gentile from his time at the Canadian restaurant Buca. The chef has been accused of workplace harassment and making sexually and racially demeaning comments about employees, the Los Angeles Times reported earlier this year.

“I acknowledge and take full responsibility for past comments,” Gentile said in a statement provided to Robb Report. “In private conversations with friends and colleagues, I recognize that my remarks were inappropriate. I deeply regret all of them, and am personally ashamed. I understand that this behavior does not align with the leader I was or aspire to be.”

Zuccarini has backed up Gentile, although she acknowledged in a statement that she learned about the details of the allegations only when contacted by the L.A. Times. “It was shocking and upsetting, as these revelations were not aligned with whom I know Rob to be,” she told Robb Report. Still, she added that she believes in “giving people second chances” and that “Stella has a bright future, with Rob at the helm.” A spokesperson for Stella didn’t detail the restaurant’s individual practices, but noted that Zuccarini’s hospitality group, Gusto 54, which oversees Stella, has an HR department and protocols in place to ensure employee safety.

Stella is open Wednesday through Sunday for dinner. Lunch service will become available in the next few months.

Click here to see all the images of Stella.

See Also

Cacio e pepe from Stella

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Source: Robb Report

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