DeathbedFood Alert! Stella Rossa Has Many SERIOUS “Contenders“
May I just say, I’m not sure why it takes me so long to get to certain places. Many Foodies had told me I must get over to Stella Rossa Pizza Bar in Santa Monica. Maybe I procrastinated since I’m not a huge “pizza” person. I like the concept of pizza but have found few versions I love here in LA. But when I was invited there to do a piece for my blog and read the reviews, I became interested. Once there, I was blown away by the level of the food, the cool vibe of the open kitchen and brick wall space, and by Executive Chef Jeff Mahin’s obvious passion and mastery of his craft (at just 27 years old!).
First, the food.
We started off with Fresh Local Burrata and Wood Grilled Grapes – served with organic extra virgin olive oil and sea salt. The bread was fresh out of the oven, a little piece of Heaven with this dish. XO to the concept of grilling grapes in a wood-burning oven and serving them with burrata.
Sampling the Housemade Organic Italian Sausage Pizza with tomato, fresh mozzarella, hand-picked oregano and fennel pollen was divine. Chef Jeff said that this is their most popular (though, when asked which is his favorite, he says he truly loves them all). After trying it, I can see why people love it. In large part, it may be the housemade organic Italian sausage they use.
Chef Jeff suggested we try more than one pizza …
So we also sampled the Shaved Mushroom Pizza with gruyere, melted onions, black truffle, torn parsley, rosemary and thyme. Equally stunning. I think my fellow food blogger, Consuming LA, summed up this pizza best here!
Another key reason their pizzas are so unique is the crust which Chef Jeff said was developed only after many months and variations of testing. He was so obsessed with creating the perfect crust, in fact, that he found a farmer in the San Joaquin Valley with whom he’s partnered to provide him with his own unique, locally milled flour for the dough. It gets shipped to them in plain paper bags (hmm, maybe a second career for Jeff could be as a CIA operative?).
While they have over a dozen red and white wine varietals as well as lots of locally brewed beer, we sampled two cocktails: the “Veneration” (gin, st. germain, marmalade and champagne) and the “Sin Nombre” (vodka, pear, yellow chartreuse and lemon). Both were light and refreshing.
While everything we sampled was outstanding, I think Jeff saved the best for last: SALTED CARAMEL CUSTARD. Like with Nigella Lawson, Salted Caramel has become a DeathbedFood ingredient for me … and custard has always been one. However, I’ve never seen anything like Jeff’s version. I have no idea how he made an eggless custard taste so ah-mazing … but I’ll be dreaming of this dessert whenever I can’t get it. Sorry, no picture though (I was in such a trance and forgot!).
So what makes Chef Jeff’s food so amazing? Likely experience from his time at The Fat Duck, , and Nobu – combined with his personality of never being satisfied (something I covet in a Chef!). And beyond the pizza dough made with the locally milled flour and the housemade organic Italian sausage, Chef Jeff sources much of his food locally, including weekly trips to the Santa Monica Farmers Market.
So, what’s next for me?
I’m gonna rent “A Streetcar Named Desire” and get over to Stella Rossa SOON for SALTED CARAMEL CUSTARD and more.