Stella Rosa Pizza Bar
I had heard some good things about Stella Rosa, so I was curious to try. It was a beautiful day in Santa Monica, besides. Stella Rosa is located on Main Street just a quick walk to the beach and bike path. With both of my older children busy with activities, I was out with my just husband and youngest daughter; a three year old with gourmet taste buds.
We weren't sure if Stella Rosa was welcoming for children, being that its sign said "Stella Rosa Pizza Bar" and adjoined as it was to M Street Kitchen (formerly La Grande Orange). It looked like a lovely wine bar inside. The waitress welcomed us in, and yes, it is kid-friendly.
We found a nice spot by the window. The menu was tempting, with salads, red pizzas, white pizzas, and wine list. With a casual interior and relaxed ambiance, you don't have to get dressed up to the nines to eat pizza and have a glass of vino.
They do make kids' pizzas, so we put that order in right away, along with a lemonade. Our three year old daughter gets the wiggles, and if lemonade isn't presented to her almost immediately, her patience runs thin. She won't put up with constant replays of Pingu and An Pan Man on our phone's screen unless she's got a nice cold cup of lemonade in her hands.
I'm the same with my glass of wine. The waitress was gracious, offering a few tastes of different wines. I mentioned I'm a red wine gal, but lately I've been trying some whites. She gave me a taste of their white selections by the glass. I tried the Falanghina Venditti Vandari 2007, which was crisp and melon light. It was delightful, but I prefer full bodied wines, so I went with the Byron, Santa Barbara Chardonnay 2007.
My husband ordered the Moonshine Margarita, and I gave him a look. He's not accustomed to having "a drink" and his Japanese DNA suggests that sake is his best choice. He cannot tolerate anything else, so my eyebrow went up. I knew who would be driving our family minivan home.
The wine list looked good. I'm not an expert, but it had an impressive selection. The Moonshine Margarita went down smoothly (for my husband) and he wasn't awfully drunk, which amazed me. He did eat more than half of the pizza, leaving three slices.
We ordered the mizuna and mâche salad to start. It arrived a luscious and fresh mound of greens, shaved parmigiano, lightly dressed in olive oil and lemon, with a genius addition of sunflower seeds. The flavor was nutty, lemony, and fragrant with lemon, sharp bites of the parmigiano cheese.
Our daughter's pizza arrived hot; a fresh pizza baked with just tomato sauce and cheese. Simple, fresh, hot. The dough was perfect, you could tell by the crust.
She took one taste and she lit up with pleasure. Happy girl. My daughter even exclaimed an "mmm" and "I like it" a few times. Her pizza was nearly done by the time our own shaved mushroom pizza arrived.
We ordered the shaved mushroom pizza and added arugula to it. We decided that the arugula worked well with this particular pizza. This was a fabulous pizza. The earthy bits of mushroom combined with melted gruyère, rosemary, thyme and black truffle, and the peppery taste of arugula. Sweet, salty, creamy, nutty and good.
The dessert? Snickerdoodle cookie. Just one. The size of my daughter's face. So we had to help her eat it. Cinnamon and sugar is a dangerous combination. No photo available. We ate it up too fast.
Stella Rosa Pizza Bar
2000 Main Street, Santa Monica, CA 90405