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Mar 9, 2009 03:49 PM

Stellina, Point Reyes Station

My husband and I were gallivanting in Point Reyes Station on Saturday, and decided to try Stellina, a new(ish) restaurant, for lunch. I don't see any other posts here, so I thought I'd share our experience. The menu looked very inviting--slightly upscale seasonal/local/etc. The space is pretty nice, too--full of light and open. Alas, based on our experience with the service and some of the food, I doubt that we'll try it again for lunch the next time we're in town (especially with the Pine Cone diner around the corner.)

I wasn't super hungry, so we just got a beet/arugula/ricotta salata salad and an oyster pizza to split. The highlight of the meal was the oyster pizza ($16)--pretty good crust, a nice leek/cream (or creme fraiche?) topping, and plump, briny oysters that weren't overcooked. And enough for two people to share with a soup or salad. Unfortunately, the salad was a disappointment--on a small plate was composed: thin slices of undressed beet, comprising perhaps 1/2 of a beet in total, a golf-ball size tangle of (slightly overgrown and ratty) arugula), and a few slice of ricotta salata. For $9. While I'm not a fan of huge portions, and I don't have a problem paying money for good, local, organic food, the whole thing just seemed ungenerous in a way that was offputting.

This was compounded by the poor service--our server took our order, and then didn't reappear at our table until the end of the meal, when she tried to sell us on dessert. In the meantime, we'd had a problem with the sparkling water that we ordered--it tasted very oddly of chlorine and old pipes. We mentioned this to the man who dropped off our food (who we later found out was the owner, based on his conversation with another table), and he explained, in a slightly confrontational way, that it was their own water, filtered and carbonated, and that he'd been drinking it for months and had never had a problem or complaint. He agreed to take it off the bill, but the whole experience was unpleasant--having worked FOH in restaurants before, I've always be taught that in such a situation, you apologize and take it off the bill--without arguing the merits. (I also object some to being charged for house sparkling water, since I'm used to getting it gratis in places like the Magnolia Pub, but I can understand if they need to cover costs, I suppose.)

Whew--didn't mean for this to turn into a screed--I guess when I go out to a restaurant (especially in this economy) I want to feel welcomed and cared for, and that wasn't my experience at Stellina. I'd be curious to know if others have had a different experience.

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  1. Wow. I am surprised. At least about your comments about the service. I have had dinner there twice recently with a ffriend. Both times the food was excellent and the service was fine. I agree that their policy of charging for water that isnt very good needs to be changed. If it tasted good....

    1 Reply
    1. re: smokestack lightning

      Glad to hear your experiences were better. New restaurants usually deserve a little slack, although the fact that part of my trouble was with the owner gives me pause. (Glad that the problem with the sparkling water wasn't just my imagination!)

    2. Doesn't sound like the oyster pizza was stellar enough to put up with Stellina's attitude? My wife always just gets the tap water, room temp.... hmm think they'd charge a screwage if we brought
      our own bottle of Calistoga in?

      1. Gee ... oyster pizza. Someone should have thought of that long ago.

        Osteria Stellina
        11285 Highway 1, Point Reyes Station, CA

        1. Four of us had an amazing meal there yesterday: robustly seasoned but delicately prepared items such as octapus in an amazing tomato sauce with lottsa mint; local goat that was prepared to perfection; etc. Very attentive service. Phenomenal bread from the local artisan baker. Prices seemed quite fair, especially a carafe of house chianti.
          As good as it gets, me thinks.

          1. So sorry your experience wasn't a good one at Stellina's. I live in the area here and we love Stellina's and normally the owner, Christian, is very friendly and involved with the diners. It can get a little chaotic on a busy night, but we've always found the staff to be friendly and helpful - even if we have a request or an issue we would like addressed. I hope that you'll give it another chance. They do such amazing things with all of our local foods and for those of us who live out here it has been such a wonderful addition to our lives. Maybe next time you are going you could call or email them and let them know you want to give them another shot and would like to come on a night that is not so busy and what would they recommend. You might want to ask for Dante' as your waiter - he is very knowledgeable and attentive. Good luck!

            1 Reply
            1. re: huntandgathergirl

              We will definitely give them another try, since the feedback I've seen since our visit has been mostly positive, and any restaurant can have a bad day. However, I do feel the need to point out that our visit was during a quiet lunch, not a busy dinner, so that wasn't the issue.