It’s difficult to talk about Stella Barra without thinking about it in the context of its conjoined twin, Summer House Santa Monica. Both cater to the yuppier, Lincoln Park crowd, both give you a California mindset, and the two are connected by an atrium stocked with baked goods (which is worthy of a review on its own). But while Summer House is the high maintenance girl who needs fancy clothes to See and Be Seen, Stella Barra is the cooler, chiller sister. It's easy, simple, and comfortable, a slip on your Lulu’s and watch the Backstreet boys documentary on Netflix Friday night kind of comfortable.
At Stella Barra, you’re here for the pizza, and they've got a good thing going with their chewy and crispy crust, aggressive use of gruyere, and decent sized pies. We also appreciate that they’re willing to make halfsies pizzas, which are great for splitting. The rest of the menu is stocked with typical Italian starters and salads worthy of acknowledgment, specifically the plates that involve various combinations of bread and cheese.
The decor feels formulaic - exposed bulbs, leather tufted couches, and rod iron chairs under sparkly lights and dark ambience. But formulaic isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Just like the four chord progression in pop songs, its predictability and popularity exists for a reason. You like it, it’s familiar, and it delivers.
If you’re eating by yourself, want to smell like pizza, or are generally fascinated by the artistry of pizza design, snag a seat at the pizza bar in the back. You can spar with the pizza dudes as they mesmerize you with their pizza magic - prod, pull, knead, repeat. And you can internally fantasize that they’ll hand you a hunk of prosciutto and a glob of mozzarella, because y’know, you’re pals now, or at least that's how we feel.
Yes, Stella Barra is safe, but it's reliable and good to have in your back pocket. Just don’t forget to grab a cookie on your way out. A Netflix relationship isn’t complete without it.
It’s a lovely chopped salad, and a good accompaniment for all the carbs.
One of our favorite calamaris in the city, found at both Stella Barra and Summer House. The batter is light, the spicy lemon aioli is tangy, and it’s a great combo.
It’s a good burrata. Sure, you’re about to have bread covered in cheese. But why not order more bread covered in more cheese.
Oh you thought you were going to go to a Lincoln Park restaurant without charred sprouts? Lolz.
Good sausage, good cheese, good sauce, good crust.
Gruyere, melted onion, and truffle. Get at least a half of this one.
Four cheese pizza with prosciutto and a cracked sunny side egg in the middle. It’s a heavenly combo and unabashedly rich. This is a must order.