Stella Rossa, an Italian bistro nestled on the edge of Brandywine River, is a recent addition to Philadelphia’s bustling Italian culinary scene. In a historic 200 year old refurbished paper mill, Dave Magrogan and Chef Anthony DiPascale wanted to create an authentic Italian experience with dishes prepared with fresh, locally-sourced ingredients.
The space is an eclectic mix of modern and traditional furniture, ringing throughout with the soulful tunes of Frank Sinatra. How quintessentially Philly Italian! The menu was sizable with an emphasis on wood-fired specialties. We ordered the braised meatballs and steamed mussels to start. The meatballs were light and delicious with a hint of fresh ricotta, the mussels, fragrant with fennel and garlic had a hint of woodsy flavor from the wood-fire steaming. It added a surprising depth of flavor, which was unexpected but welcome.
I could never resist Branzino whenever I see it on a menu, so I ordered the Branzino Livornese for dinner. A grilled whole fish, stuffed with olives, onions and capers with a tangy tomato sauce. It was wonderfully piquant and delightfully delicate. The dessert selection were offered a la plateau; cups of whipped, airy desserts of pillow-like consistency. It was a satisfying way of ending the meal without feeling overindulgent.
Like all new restaurants, the service was solid but not polished, which I am sure, will only improve over time. Overall, Stella Rossa was a fun, casual venue; a great place to hang out with family and friends while enjoying good food and a convivial atmosphere.
Tags: Italian cuisine, Philadelphia, restaurant review