In my travels there is always going to be one experience that stands out Stella’s Italian is this and more. Festive, fun, delicious are just some of the descriptions I can offer up, oh and did I say GREAT service. The night I was dining Rob was gracing us with his musical riffs. He did so many songs from so many popular artists but with his own spin on everything. A much added plus to my overall delightful dinner. Ricardo books 3 different artists for their evening music, Rochelle, Gary and Rob, they all add different talent to each night they perform.
When I was deciding where to go in this area I called and spoke to manager Ricardo Huacuz, he said sure come in. He was so kind, taking care of my every need. He just said try everything and anything, enjoy yourself. Owner Marcello Rey was also very accommodating, they all made me feel very special. My server Gage Giurato was another gem; having studied at University of Florence, he is moviestar handsome and took care of me like I was family. I just can’t say enough about every aspect of my tasting. If I lived close by I would be here a few nights a week, but I am still going to try to make it in once a month! Then there are the cocktails and the incredible food, wow!
Ricardo says this restaurant would be nothing without his kitchen staff: Chef Tony Jauregui – he is new, Sergio Rodriguez worked here for 14 years, Joshua Hernandez for 3 years, and Rosa Rosalez for 5 years. All, he says, are the backbone to this establishment, and some of them don’t speak English but they can read enough to follow the recipes and create stunning menu items. Ricardo says, “You can great food anywhere but at Stella’s you get great service as well,” he likes the balance between his kitchen staff and his servers both doing excellent jobs.
During the pandemic Stella’s survived by doing seventy five percent of their orders Togo, by locals who call Stella’s their favorite restaurant in this area. Their support kept Stella’s Italian afloat, and now they are back to full capacity with indoor seating.
Here is What I tried:
Traditional Vodka Martini, all of their Martin’s are served in a proper glass, this Martini was icy cold with great mellow Vodka flavor…. life is good.
Cosmopolitan, a nice rendition of this very popular cocktail.
French Martini, ok so I am here to say that surprises do happen, in the form of this cocktail. I have never had a French Martini, it is just so smooth and so delightful, for sure my new favorite drink. It has fresh raspberries, with Chambord, champagne and cherries on top.
Orange Peach Drop Martini, different, but still could not stop enjoying my French Martini. All of these cocktails were thought up by mixologist Mike, he is a real master.
They serve an olive tapenade with their lovely bread; it is a great way to start my glorious dinner.
Capesante all’ Arrabbiata Seared jumbo fresh scallops, arrabbiata sauce and arugula salad. These little darlings are covered in sauce, but the scallops are plump and pop in your mouth, oh so delicious.
Scampi Adriatico Jumbo shrimp, breaded Adriatic style, grilled with garlic, parsley chile flakes and olive oil. Served over braised cabbage sautéed with leeks and dried apricots. The shrimp are plump and flavorful; with the cabbage and apricots make this a very unique appetizer.
Caesar Salad, Chopped romaine, creamy reggiano dressing, white anchovy, and crouton. A very good rendition of this Italian staple. The croutons have an anchovy on each which added a nice visual touch.
Pizza Astarita Italian sweet sausage, house made meatballs, imported salami, fresh oregano, mozzarella and tomato sauce.
Pizza Bianco Mozzarella, parmigiano reggiano, ricotta di bufala, garlic and extra virgin olive oil. They split the pizza in half so I got to try both pizza’s in one. It had a perfect crispy crust. They have an authentic 1200-degree pizza oven, so you know it is going to be great Neapolitan style pizza.
Penne Con Porcini e Prosciutto, penne pasta with spicy tomato, prosciutto, porcini mushrooms. This would be my go to dish. It has special nuances of porcini and the prosciutto adds just the right amount of salt, truly a big winner for me.
Fettuccine Bolognese, fettuccine pasta topped with Stella’s famous meat sauce and house made meatballs. This pasta does not disappoint, it is old world with lots of hearty meat.
Lobster Ravioli, a nice mellow sauce with shrimp pieces in the mix. One of the best lobster ravioli I have ever had.
Cioppino, with calamari, salmon, shrimp, mussels and clams. The tomato sauce was rich and fragrant with a bit of a kick, so wonderful.
Pistachio Pie, lovely pie, chock-full of rich pistachio flavors.
Chardonnay – Cakebread Cellars, a nice balance for any of the seafood dishes.
Chardonnay – Giovanni Rosso, creamy, buttery, a wonderful combo with the scallops and shrimp.
Barborella – Daou, this wine is just spectacular, it goes with any of the red sauces.
Stella’s Italian has been a fixture in Dana Point since 2007, it has had 3 different owners, but the locals love this dining experience and are faithful through and through. From their New York style bar to their high style Italian dining room, or their heated patio, everything you need is under one roof.
Whatever the occasion this place is a must the next time you’re close by. It is the real deal, fine authentic creative Italian cuisine in a
close-knit community. It is friendly and elegant, exactly what you would want to experience for a nice night out on the town, or a casual lunch, either way high-tail it to Stella’s Italian in Dana Point and you too will be glad you did.
Stella means star in Italian – it is just that – incandescent and radiant.
17 Monarch Bay Plaza
Dana Point, CA 92629