Ten years ago, the Headhouse Square neighborhood-favorite spot Pizzeria Stella opened its bright red doors. For the past decade, the popular eatery from restaurant mogul Stephen Starr has brought delicious Italian fare (ranging from savory pizza selections to tasty antipasti dishes), an incredible selection of adult libations, and a cozy yet upscale atmosphere to the City of Brotherly Love. Now, Pizzeria Stella is celebrating their 10-year anniversary with a colorful extravaganza, and everyone is welcome to join in on the carb-filled fun.
Neighborhood favorite Pizzeria Stella is celebrating ten years of delicious business
Stellafest kicks off this Monday, Oct. 14, and the annual block party will feature plenty of enticing food and drink specials (think cheesesteaks, cider cocktails, gelato and more), face painting, pony rides, carnival games and tractor rides from 3 pm until 8 pm for everyone to enjoy.
Getting people together is just one of the objectives Pizzeria Stella prides itself on, especially when you talk to Executive Chef Shane Solomon who has been there since the beginning.
Solomon graduated from the New England Culinary School and not long after began working exclusively for Stephen Starr in a few other Philly hotspots such as Parc and Angeline. When Solomon jumped on board with Pizzeria Stella in 2009, he signed up for a job full of pizza, pasta and a lot of innovation.
“Pizzeria Stella is a place where we have a lot of room to try different things and expand on a lot of different products and techniques—we tend to follow the seasons. We’re always building our craft and learning about new things,” says Solomon. “I think at this point we kind of understand who we are and who we are to the people who come here all of the time. We’ve been very fortunate because we are filled up with the same faces most of the time. Our regulars that live in the neighborhood and the people that come to see us kind of expect a sort of baseline of regular things that they like, but we try to mix it up as well. We have specials all of the time to keep people interested, but overall our business is doing well and we are very happy with where it is — but you don’t want to stay stagnant too much. We are always trying to take the things we’re doing now and just do them better as we go.”
Doing “things better” includes an impressive list of specialty pizzas, an extensive range of bar selections and a catalog of flavorful-dishes including Pizzeria Stella’s octopus dish, which happens to be chef Solomon’s favorite. “I’m a big fan of our octopus dish. It’s grilled octopus with a salsa verde made with fresh herbs, potatoes, anchovies and done on a fennel salad with dessert lemon and long hot peppers. It’s one of our favorites and I eat it for dinner all of the time.”
There are plenty of other favorites from Solomon, like the eatery’s savory meatballs (“Who doesn’t like meatballs, you know?”), but what takes the cake at this neighborhood spot is certainly the feeling of community.
“Having been involved somewhere like this for ten years is kind of an anomaly on its own. But having Pizzeria Stella still continue to be this successful is amazing to me. To make it more special, my son, my oldest, was born the week I started Pizzeria Stella. So I’ve been able to watch him grow as well as the business. But you’re watching everything grow, from customers to staff — some have even been here from the beginning. Again, it’s all an anomaly. But the best part is just the people, it’s that shared experience. When people come back it means we’re doing something right.”
To learn more about Pizzeria Stella (420 S. 2nd St.) or Stellafest visit pizzeriastella.net