Stella, the creation of owner Lori Burson, has established itself as a destination in the city’s Midtown district by offering delicious, modern takes on Italian classics in a neighborhood restaurant just minutes from downtown and Bricktown.
Burson spent many years opening and managing some of Oklahoma City’s best restaurants, but her goal was always to open her own place. Burson realized her lifelong dream when she opened Stella in April 2010. Only blocks away from her own home, Stella has the feel of a neighborhood restaurant where friends, family, and customers could gather to experience dining or just grab a quick meal.
“I love the feel of Midtown. It’s an eclectic, walkable neighborhood where people can live and walk to their favorite restaurant and stop by a bookstore on their way home. A business traveler can stay in a fabulous restored hotel and walk across the street to Stella”, said Burson.
Midtown has experienced a renaissance in the past decade. Beautiful, old buildings have been refurbished, professionals and creative types are moving in, and a thriving dining and night life scene is emerging. The proximity to d o w n t o w n - Thunder games are three minutes away--and abundant parking make Midtown a convenient destination before a game or event.
One of those beautiful, old buildings is Stella’s home. In the early 1920s, Anderson- Prichard built the facility as a gas station to service the neighborhood. Prior to 1930, oil companies were experimenting with service stations in residential areas. To attract customers, they chose large corner lots and erected attractive buildings, very unlike the service stations we know today. The building has been re-envisioned many times over the decades, but the basic structure remains intact, including the bay doors which are now large picture windows.
The heart of Stella, though, is the kitchen. Burson works in conjunction with Executive Chef Melissa Aust and their experienced kitchen staff to develop menu items that are fresh, local, and seasonal. “When I studied in Rome, I was impressed with the way Italian people experienced a meal,” Burson said. “They didn’t just rush through the meal; they enjoyed the wine, the conversation, the presence of friends. It’s what I wanted to replicate with Stella.”
Front and center when you walk in is the oak-fired brick oven where the Roman-style, thin crust, pizzas and a few appetizers are made. While they’re known for their pastas and veal osso bucco, the menu also features salads, soup, seafood, and steak. While this is a modern take on Italian, you won’t find spaghetti and meatballs or fettucine alfredo, thek nowledgeable wait staff can guide anyone to something they’ll love.
Stella also offers an “aperitivo hour”, which in Italy is a gathering before a meal which can last hours. Tuesday through Friday from 4-6:00 guests that choose to enjoy the bar top dining can order off the ‘bar top menu’ that offers a changing selection of half price pizzas, appetizers and $5 wine selections.
Dress at Stella is eclectic. Lori wants guests to feel comfortable in jeans and tee shirts before the game or in evening attire before or after the Philharmonic. Dressed up or dressed down, everyone will be made to feel welcome and comfortable.
Stella is open Tuesday through Thursday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Saturday 10:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. and Sunday, 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. For more information or reservations call 405-235-2200 or visit www.stellaokc.com.
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