La Stella Ristorante ~ Catering – Boca Raton, Florida

August 27, 2014

in National,Palm-Beach,South Florida

Post image for La Stella Ristorante ~ Catering – Boca Raton, Florida

La Stella
Ristorante ~ Catering
159 E. Palmetto Park Road
Boca Raton, Florida 33432

Reviewed and Photographed by: Tom House

Food & Service: Being Italian of descent, I believe I am a good judge of Italian cuisine in a restaurant setting. My Grandmother Francesca Ferrara’s version of hello was, “Did you eat?” …followed by a warm hug and kiss as she plated up mountains of pasta, stuffed artichokes, Manicotti, Eggplant Parmesan, Lasagna and much more. I know what “homemade” Italian food is supposed to taste like, so I was pleasantly surprised by my recent visit to the cozy La Stella Ristorante & Catering in Boca Raton, Florida. This is real Italian food!

Chefs Davide and Omar Creating Magic in LA Stella's Kitchen

La Stella's Crunchy Baked Bread

Owner / Chef Jamie Barlow hails from Providence Rhode Island, Federal Hill, where all the best restaurants are located. I have been there to review restaurants, and this street is very competitive. Barlow has created a very unique concept at her nearly 6 year-old restaurant, with her authentic Italian eatery La Stella by night and serving Mexican food by day under the name Estrella. In both instances, Chef Barlow uses only the finest, freshest ingredients and hand selected meats. She focuses on using mostly, if not exclusively organic ingredients, and it shows in every bite of the food made at this wonderful Boca Raton restaurant.

Chef Barlow earned her double bachelor’s degree in Culinary and Hospitality from the Original Johnson and Wales University in Rhode Island. She continued her education internationally attending a school for Hospitality and Tourism in Belgium, studying under Italian chefs and tasting her way through Europe as well as the United States. Now with over 25+ years of experience in most phases of the restaurant business, Chef Barlow

La Stella Carmelized Onion, Skirt Steak and Gorgonzola Flatbread

has even created an extensive catering menu in which she can accommodate intimate dinners for two, or large parties all the way up to 3,000. Apparently nothing is too big or small for this professional chef and business woman.

Although originally meant to be a catering only establishment, popular demand caused Chef Barlow to open her restaurant doors to the public and begin serving dinner too. Five years later, Jamie has her La Stella staff past and present, and especially her loyal customers who she considers family, to thank for her success.

La Stella Eggplant Rolatini is Superb

We started out with a Caramelized Onion, Skirt Steak and Gorgonzola Cheese Flatbread. This masterpiece was delivered by our server and restaurant manager Matt Desorcy, piping hot and delicious. We had planned on pacing ourselves by not eating it all, but that plan was quickly discarded and the plate cleaned completely.

Next we enjoyed an appetizer special of the night… a beautifully prepared and presented Eggplant Rolatini, oozing with ricotta cheese, wrapped with thinly sliced eggplant and smothered in San Marzano Pomodoro sauce. This dish melted in our mouths and as my Granny used to say, it was “Out of this world”! Service from Matt and other servers on the floor was spot on but never intrusive, allowing all guests in the room to dine leisurely and fully enjoy the La Stella experience.

Chicken Parmesan

My guest Bill Jilla, International Food and Wine Editor for©, had Chicken Parmesan with Cappellini Pomodoro. La Stella uses only Bell & Evans chicken breast, and for this dish it is breaded and served with Barlow’s superb tomato sauce and topped with a generous amount of melting mozzarella cheese…just fantastic!

Every bite of this plentiful portion is better than the last. I chose the House Smoked Wild King Salmon, served warm with house made flatbread wedges, arugula salad and lemon caper aioli. This was an unusual preparation that I found to be truly excellent.  A different and successful twist on the “smoked salmon” concept, and one I will return for again.

House Smoked Wild King Salmon with flatbread wedges, arugula salad and lemon caper aioli

We also sampled Lingunie with Baby Clams which was perfection in a bowl. Other suggestions from La Stella’s extensive menu are Veal Milanese, Skirt Steak Risotto Primavera, Swordfish Siciliana with Gaela olives, capers, onions, potatoes and finished with a tomato, garlic white wine brodetto. Exceptional sounding side dishes (Contorni) include mashed cauliflower, roasted red peppers, escarole and beans, broccoli rabe or sautéed green beans. Plenty of pizzas to choose from too… don’t get me started!

Linguine in White Clam Sauce

There is an ample wine list designed to pair well with the food served at La Stella. All the knowledgeable servers are happy to help you with your wine selections, as they did in our case. We started dinner with some very good glasses of Italian white wine, and later enjoyed red wine with our main courses.

Dolci time! We finished with an amazing glass full of fresh strawberries topped with the richest Zabaione I have ever tasted! If that wasn’t enough, it was covered in whipped cream and surrounded by huge truffles. We were full by now, but because it tasted so good we nearly finished this too. Other dessert features are Raspberry Bomb…a raspberry sorbet covered in dark chocolate; Espresso Chocolate Torte…a flourless chocolate cake served warm, or a classic Spumoni Truffle… vanilla, chocolate, strawberry and pistachio ice cream with a cherry almond center covered in dark chocolate. Next time I am here I am trying the Pizelle…an Italian waffle cookie layered with cannoli cream and topped with fresh strawberries.

As for Estrella at lunch time, this has been going on for about 4 months and will have to be a separate visit for me to write about it properly. The menu touts some great sounding dishes though, including Flautas, Nachos, Quesadillas, Carne Asada, Mole Verde or Rojo with Chicken and Flan or Rice Pudding for dessert. Just another great reason for me to return to this dining gem on Palmetto Park Road.

Zabaione Italian Cream with Fresh Strawberries

Clearly Chef Jamie Barlow has a grasp on what great food and excellent service is all about, and to be confident enough to offer two different culinary worlds under one roof is a testament to the skills of her and her fellow chefs  Omar and Davide. Make your plans to visit La Stella soon and make sure you tell them Tom House and Bill Jilla from© sent you!

NOTE: Click on the pictures in this story and see them full size and high resolution! Enjoy!

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