For anyone seeking a unique dining experience, Stella’s Restaurant & Pizzeria in Old Lyme will fill that bill. Yes, pizza is a universal favorite, but what makes this restaurant different is a chef whose specialty is fusion foods.
Owner Viktoriya Seferi is enjoying her first year in business. She laughs when asked how she came to choose this location. “This place kind of chose me,” she says. “My husband owns a construction company (LT Construction LLC) and the co-owners of this property, Roberto Schiano and Paul Illiano, are customers and friends. Paul asked if we’d be interested in opening a restaurant here.”
Seferi had already looked at several places. This seemed like serendipity, and Stella’s Restaurant & Pizzeria became a reality. So, what’s in a name? Seferi smiles. “My restaurant is named after my seven-year-old daughter, Stella.”
Back to the food. Not only does the menu offer intriguing traditional dishes with a contemporary twist, but there are also gluten-free and vegetarian offerings. Chef Angelo Sanchez loves creating food that dazzles both the eyes and the palate. He makes fresh mozzarella, focaccia bread, and creates sauces from a wide range of ingredients—all from scratch.
He grins. “I have a hard time writing a description of some of my sauces because they have so many ingredients in them,” he says.
Sampling the vegetarian dishes, we chose the Linguini Alfredo with Broccoli plus a side of Roasted Asparagus with Parmesan. The pasta was perfectly al dente, swimming in a creamy flavorful Alfredo sauce, and the broccoli was cooked to perfection: still crisp, but not crunchy. Bravo.
The vegetarian choices were many—not usually the case in an Italian restaurant. Starters include Gorgonzola Fondue on crisp garlic bread; the pizza menu features five vegetarian choices; and there are four vegetarian sandwiches. The Wild Mushroom Risotto features shiitake, cremini, and oyster mushrooms. And the list goes on.
Chef Sanchez fills the entree menu with interesting combinations like pan-roasted prawns, served with assorted vegetables in a smoked-tomato butter sauce and served over a parmigiana and spinach polenta cake. Or how about penne pasta with Italian sausage, bell pepper, caramelized onion, baby tomatoes, fresh basil and spinach in a garlic chardonnay sauce.
Prefer traditional? All your regular favorites are done to perfection and made with fresh, local, in-house, or organic ingredients. Including the pizza.
Seferi mentions that it took them a few months to perfect the pizza dough. “Our pizzas are Neapolitan-style with the thin crust,” she says. “When you grab a slice, it doesn’t flop down, but stays firm.” There are ten varieties on the menu, all 16-inch pizzas. Additionally, all pizzas can be made on 10-inch gluten free dough.
Every week, Stella’s offers specials for dinner, and Chef Sanchez shows his flair with these dishes: Blackened Scallops are Cajun spiced and topped with mango salsa; or, Mongolian NY Strip, grilled and marinated in a soy brown sugar ginger glaze and served with fingerling potatoes and broccoli. For seafood, consider monkfish with artichokes?pan-seared monkfish sautéed with artichokes and capers in a garlic wine sauce, topped with prosciutto and served with saffron rice and broccoli rabe.
Of course, no meal would be complete without some decadence at the end. Divine describes the Granny Caramel Apple Cake, thick with juicy apples and spices, served with whipped cream in a beautiful presentation. Other dessert items include Fallen Chocolate Cake, Ricotta Cheesecake with Strawberry Port Drizzle, or Coconut Banana Bread Pudding. Yum!
Every month, Stella’s puts on a wine dinner with a different theme. So far, dinner patrons have enjoyed a taste of France, Italy, Spain, and California. Future events will showcase Chile, Germany, and Argentina.
Some time in July, Seferi plans to do a fund-raiser for the Connecticut chapter of the Arthritis Foundation. Since young Stella suffers from juvenile arthritis, this cause is personal. The event will have outdoor activities during the day and then a portion of the evening dinner profits will go to benefit the Foundation.
Whether you just want a great pizza and a cold beer, or want to settle in for a gourmet dining experience, Stella’s Restaurant & Pizzeria should satisfy any craving.
Stella’s Restaurant & Pizzeria
163 Boston Post Road
Old Lyme, CT 06371