Omnivore - Stella opens in Grant Park

Stella Neighborhood Trattoria (563 Memorial Drive, 404-688-4238) has opened in Grant Park and my first impression was quite positive. We went the first night it was open to the public, something I rarely do, and the staff was on its toes and the food was good.

The owner is Rich Chey, who also operates Doc Chey's Noodle House and Osteria 832 Pasta & Pizza. I'm fond of the latter. It's an inexpensive trattoria but has plenty of sophisticated flourishes. The same is true of Stella.

The restaurant is serving only its "base menu" right now but will soon add a menu of seasonal specialties and desserts. It will be hard to get me to eat anything but the short ribs with root vegetables braised in red wine — an exceptional version at a low price (above right). The cod and potato fritters are, um, stellar, too.

The restaurant features the extra-long bar (top photo) that most new restaurants seem to be featuring. I assume this trend is a reflection of how alcohol sales are up to 70 percent of many restaurants' sales these days, according to a friend in the industry. But it may also reflect the trend to eat at bars, something I've always enjoyed.

I'll have more to say about Stella in next week's Grazing column.

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