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Feb 8, 2014 04:27 AM

Stella Trattoria Traverse City MI

Years ago, I had received a gift certificate for this restaurant, but had never used it. I rarely find myself in TC proper, but here I was for the weekend. The restaurant is housed in a part of TC I didn't know existed, the Traverse Commons, a former Victorian era mental hospital. It was a bit off putting to me to be seated in what was once someones cell. The place prides itself on its farm to table...but it seems the only local meat they serve its offal. I opted for the decidedly non local seafood pasta. It was tasty. All in all, it was good but expensive, not sure I'll back because I am not sure I felt right enjoying a meal in a place where there was probably so much misery.

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  1. I've had similar thoughts. If any place is haunted, that one would be a contender. I had a wild boar pasta there about 6 years ago. Very tasty, very expensive, where the beautiful people of TC go.

    1. Perhaps the happiness of people enjoying a good meal there will exorcise the place....

      1 Reply
      1. re: OCEllen

        It surely is a generational thing. A young professional like Gan can see it for the food, but an old duffer like me can't get past the horrors that were exposed back when Geraldo Rivera was just a hippie in his twenties, sneaking into those places at night with a news camera.

      2. that place was fantastic...probably best meal i've had in this state. def rec'd

        1. Been there several times. The place's history never bothered me. In fact, makes it kind of interesting to think about the layout.

          Food is good but not exceptional. Wine list also good. However, there is much better in the area and at better prices.

          Last couple of years an "our way or the highway" attitude with regard to simple requests combined with high prices has led us to stop going.

          1 Reply
          1. re: jock

            I agree. I love Stella's and we often make a point of having a meal there when we are vacationing in the area. I think the whole building is super cool---with all the little shops and farmers market.

            We've had some wonderful meals there. I remember a mushroom pasta in particular that was delicious.

          2. It's good, but I've long contended it's a little overrated. The reviews you'll see on Yelp are almost universally glowing (minus mine), but in my mind the execution doesn't live up to the high-minded concept.

            With that said, everything's hyper-local, the menu is very interesting, and it all changes seasonally. It's just that not everything is done well, and I think some corners are cut sometimes (e.g. using the same sauce on a number of different dishes, which is a huge no-no in my mind). But you can still have a great meal there, you just have to get a little lucky with your selections.

            Perhaps it's just overshadowed in my mind by the Cook's House, which IMO is truly the best restaurant in Michigan.

            6 Replies
            1. re: phamburg

              Sooooooo,,,where else to eat in TC?? besides Cook's ?? tarantilla

                1. re: tarantilla

                  If you want Traverse City proper (there are lots of other great options in other surronding areas) we like Red Ginger and Trattoria Stella (obviously you were looking for something else).

                  We had an ok meal at Bistro Fou Fou. Quite honestly their sister restaurant La Becasse is much better.

                  1. re: Elyssa

                    La Becasse just doesn't get nearly enough Love. One of the best kept secrets of the area.
                    For me Stella is ok but I also find being in a State Mental Hospital not the most enticing venue.

                    1. re: TraderJoe

                      Becasse is far and away the best within 100 miles. Maybe the best in the state.

                  2. re: tarantilla

                    For breakfast or lunch, Frenchies.