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Oct 14, 2009 06:49 AM

Stellar Stella

This week we went to visit Pizzeria Stella for the very first time. Our interest was keen as we have been very fortunate to dine at some of the best pizzerias in the United States, including Pizza Mozza, Spacca Napoli, 2 Amy's, Antica Pizzeria, Pizza Fresca, Sapori di Napoli, Bebbo, Pizza Ortica,and many more throughout Italy that would be too numerous to mention. We hope that this provides some bona fides about our dedication to authentic DOP pizza.

We had only our favorite, the Margherita, so as to provide a uniform comparison to the others. Frankly and sincerely, the Stella margherita would rank among the very top. The crown of the crust (cornicione) was crisp and well cooked; the inside of the pizza had the finest blend of tomatoes, fresh buffalo mozzarella, and a generous decoration of basil leaves. The overall pizza was evenly cooked bringing the true flavor of the brick oven to the table.

The slices of pizza bianca served with the salumi selections was also extremely authentic with a crisp bite and a flavoring of good olive oil. The salumi themselves were artisinal in quality and were likely imported from Italy. The serving was generous and served attractively on a cutting board.

However, the antipasti we had were a bit disappointing considering the description. We would be will to try others, like the arancini or the scamorza, but will leave that to another time.

The gelato selection was not only impressively, but creative. The inventiveness of the flavors and the actual taste of the gelato was superb, especially the olive oil gelato. We will be back to try all of the other flavors.. Compared to the renowned Capogiro, which we rank very highly, this gelato had a comparable homemade and handmade quality.

We are not beer drinkers, and had wine. The wine list is well drawn from various regions and with varietals that we enjoy, like Fiano, but we found the bottles overpriced. You might stay with the house varietals or the beers. We skipped espressos (using La Colombe coffee) as they were overpriced at $4.

Overall the service was impeccable. Our particular waitperson was informative and interested in our experience and feedback and could not have been more helpful.

We are looking forward to another thrilling pizza experience now knowing that we do not have to travel to NYC or anywhere else when we crave a true DOP pizza.

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  1. Thanks for the writeup. When did you go? I am curious because the initial reviews on this board were mostly lukewarm. Hopefully they worked out any kinks as I really want a great pizza place like this in Philly.

    6 Replies
    1. re: barryg

      It sounds like herculesmulligan visited a different restaurant than I did, two of the three pies I tried (of which the margherita was one) were so limp and floppy in the center than the toppings slid right off when I picked up a piece. I had to fold them in half, Lorenzo's-style. Even then, the flavors of the margherita were not that great. Wasn't impressed by the gelato either, but I just read that Capogiro is opening a block away from Stella in the old Chef's Market space, so that will be an option for dessert. Maybe Starr heard the criticisms and made some changes, but for a place where brick-oven pizza is the raison d'etre, limp crust is a lot more than a 'kink' IMO. That should be perfected before the doors open.

      1. re: Buckethead

        As true pizza afficianados, we know that DOP pizza are expected to have a moist center and bubbles with a well done, crisp crown or cornicione because of the brick oven cooking process. The reason for this is that a good DOP margherita pizza uses quality mozzarella and tomatoes that release some amount of water during the cooking process. It is be expected.

        1. re: herculesmulligan

          What is DOP pizza? I've never been to Italy and my best pizza experiences in the US have been at Grimaldi's in Brooklyn and Pizzeria Regina in Boston. This was what I compared Stella to and it just didn't match up. I guess those aren't DOP?

          1. re: barryg

            DOP, in Italian, is Denominazione d' Origine Protetta, which designates the true, integral make of a product, in this case a Neapolitan pizza. The original, if you will. Which is not to suggest that Stella, now, is DOP. DOP may be a stretch for use excepting a particular food (like pomodori), but you get the idea. Regrettably, we do not know Grimaldi's or Pizzeria Regina, so we cannot tell.

            1. re: herculesmulligan

              using DOP here is a bit of a stretch though. typically it is only used on products made in italy and is not used to refer to products made with DOP ingredients. if i used a DOP wine in a sauce tonight, i could not call that sauce DOP certifiied or anything like that.

              but yes, the tomatoes and mozz releasing moisture is to be expected at high heats. it is up to the pizza maker to not overdo the sauce so it doesn't flop right off the slice.

              1. re: mazza3

                mazza 3. Thanks for the response, but I am attaching a link to a renowned authentic pizzeria in Atlanta, Antico Pizzeria, and note their use of the DOP designation. As mentioned, we are certainly aware that DOP's are product identifiers, but some apply it to designate authenticity.


    2. sounds good, and i am not at all surprised by the espresso et al being overpriced. how are the pizzas priced?

      1 Reply
      1. re: mazza3

        The margherita is $13, which is a high for Italian/European standards, but considering other good US pizzas it is fairly priced for its quality.