Denver >Food & Dining > Trattoria Stella Restaurant
Don't try just ordering a mimosa. I went to Trattoria Stella this morning with my sister to have a mimosa. We were seated outside and told by our waiter that if we wanted to sit outside that we needed to order food as well as a mimosa. He was quite unfriendly. We finished our drinks quickly and asked for the bill. As we paid our bill he told us that there was a legal issue with only ordering drinks... we were not aware that it is illegal to only order drinks at a bar. We will not go back to this place.
Excellent Homemade Cuisine and Cozy Atmosphere.
I have been to Stella's numerous times and had great experiences every time. We usually sit in the bar side (R Bar) and the servers are always extremely friendly and knowledgeable.
The dressings here are all homemade and so tasty! I was hesitant to try the Orange Fennel dressing, but it was probably the best dressing I have ever had.
My favorite dish is the 32nd Street Pasta. The combination of flavors is AMAZING - sweet, salty and a tiny bit spicy. My boyfriend ordered the Chicken Fettucine Alfredo and he really enjoyed it as well - it had big roasted garlic pieces and bacon, which was a unique twist.
I highly recommend this place to anyone. They make all their pasta fresh on Tuesdays and change up their menu with unique combinations. Great neighborhood place!
Now Stella's. Not as good as Cafe Star or the old Stella's. I was a big fan of Cafe Star and went there the other night only to find that the restaurant had changed to mirror Stella's Trattoria, run by the same people. I always thought of Cafe Star to be a step up from Stella's (which I still love) and was disappointed by the change. And even with the same menu as Stella's,the food is not as good as the original, located in the Highlands. I hear the brunch menu is still the same as Cafe Star's old menu, but if the chefs have changed, I'm a little wary.
Cafe Star Has Lost Its Luster.
Like Mizuna, Rioja and Barolo Grill, Cafe Star was an old reliable on our fine dining list. However, ever since Chef Rebecca moved to NYC in the fall of 2007, the food has really gone down hill. The steak was undercooked and over-sauced; the jus covered the entire plate and that's just not necessary. The shrimp appetizer wasn't noteworthy, just boring and bland. The salad with hot bacon dressing came cold and too early (right after we got the shrimp app); no, the dressing was not cold b/c we had to wait to eat it, it was cold on arrival. The salad came with mozzarella cheese, which was much too bland for the spinach and bacon dressing; would have been better with a strong blue or goat. And pickled onions on a spinach/bacon salad? No, raw red would have been fine. The whole combination just didn't work.
Besides not presenting the wine, the server filled our proper wine glasses so much that the wine couldn't breath. Not that we care about presentation that much, it was just a sign of how the experience quality has lessened. Unless we hear the food has improved, we won't be going back again. But that's okay, b/c we look at it as an opportunity to try other great places in the city. We were going there so often that we never tried other great places in Denver. (originally written 1/21/08 and posted in Westword.)
Cafe Star, RIP.
THIS JUST IN: CAFE STAR HAS CLOSED AND WILL BE REPLACED WITH STELLA'S. YUCK!!
Here is another example of an originally unique restaurant, ruined by identity crisis. Yes, it was tragic when the chef who created their outstanding menu defected to NYC. But is it really that hard to imitate some of what she was doing? Is there no one in the kitchen capable of any creativity? And for gosh sakes, why remove some of the dishes for which you were best known??? Gone are the refreshing Mediterranean salad, the amazing escargot bread pudding and several of the other items I literally used to crave and couldn't get anyplace else. Instead, we have boring pizzettas, more pastas and just a more mediocre selection overall. The weekend brunch still stands, and those selections are as delicious as they are inventive but overall, the lousy, inept service coupled with the trashing of the dinner menu really, really disappoints. We used to be really loyal regulars but after they 86'd my favorite cocktail on the menu and installed the bizarre movie night screen in the bar, it was the last straw. That bar is a gorgeous, hidden gem- made for adults who appreciate real cocktails and the opportunity to sip them in hip surroundings. Why destroy that with movie nights and crappy drinks you could get at Bennigan's? Sorry, but I'm in the market for something different and unfortunately, Cafe Star's desire to conform is working all too well.
Great food. Everything else: meh.. The food was great. I can't say enough about it. The reason for my rating is 2 things. 1) lack of a competent wait staff. Our waitress was flighty, she forgot things and seemed to be "absent" in the literal and figurative meanings. That wasn't so bad, but the biggest bummer was #2: No A/C; not even a fan. OK, look I get it: it's in an old building; maybe the A/C was on the fritz, who knows. The thing was they didn't even have a fan of some sort to circulate the air. My girlfriends and I ate our dinners as fast as we could, just to escape the heat. We opted to go someplace else for dessert, since no one could stand it any longer. Even my red wine was hot. I had to ask the waitress for a glass of ice, (blasphemy, I know), but just to make it drinkable. (Oh yeah, that might signal to some that the wine is too hot, or maybe even barely drinkable, but not our girl, she just gladly brought me a glass of ice.)
Really great food. My husband and I took some out of town friends to Cafe Star on Saturday. First off, we had to delay the reservation and the host was very polite about it all. We had two wonderful appetizers: fresh mozzerella and olives and a rissotto with a delicious basil sauce. Our server was very polite and was very helpful. We shared two bottles of wine which were great deals at $25. The manderin, fennel salad was super good. I had the mushroom gnocci, which I actually wouldn't reccomend, it was a little dry. But my friends had the crawfish potpie and a mint/pea ravioli which were both done quite well. The key lime tart and the panna cotta were both good, but the pannacotta would have been better without the nuts on top. Overall, we had a great evening. The price was very reasonable. The menu had changed a lot since the last time we went to Cafe Star, but we really liked the changes and the prices were better.
My husband and I ate here recently after deciding to never again patronize their sister restaurant (Trattoria Stella). We were so pleased with everything, honestly, everything. Our server was this sweet girl from Chicago, she was so personable and helpful. We started with the tuna appetizer then I ordered the duck special and my husband ordered the pork. I also had a great Malbec which was truly fantastic. What can I say? Probably one of the best meals I have ever had, and my husband agreed. I'm sure that we'll be going again, and even if they are having an 'off' night, they are still worth the time and money.
Regarding the parking: come on guys, it's Denver! There isn't much space, and restaurant owners can't afford to purchase a whole city block just to have more parking and convenience people that can't walk a 100 feet without complaining . Geez! Get real and learn how to parallel park...or move out of the city...any city for that matter.
What an amazing find!!. My wife and I were walking from the Tattered Cover when we stumbled on this little gem. Who knew that Denver could produce such great food!! My wife had the halibut which was delicious. I had the duck small plate on the advice of our server. The skin was perfectly crispy and the meat was nice and moist without being fatty. The service was relaxed but very well done and the wine list was filled with interesting, well priced options. The only drawback was that the mens room ceiling was dripping from a rainstorm and the tables were a little worn. Over all though, this was one of the greatest restaurant experiences that we've had in Denver.
My husband and I live in the neighborhood so we are very interested supporting local restaurants. However, on our first three attempts to eat at Cafe Star we were turned away because we didn't have a reservation. These visits were not all on a Saturday night and the tables were not full. I recently mentioned this to someone else who said they had the same experience. Each time we ended up at GoodFriends (which I might add is always good and never turns you away).
I'm a vegetarian and there is nothing even close to vegetarian on the menu besides some basic tapas you have to piecemeal together. It would be very easy to offer at least one vegetarian option, as most places do.
The service was extremely slow as well, so needless to say, we won't be returning.
Next time we're sticking with GoodFriends.
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