420 S. 2nd Street
The next stop on this insatiable pizza conquest took us to Society Hill. We decided to hit the ever-popular “Pizzeria Stella.” Just in case you didn’t know, Steven Starr owns this little establishment. Mr. Starr owns roughly 15+ restaurants in our area, not to mention the handful of other joints around the country. Chris, the general manager, sat down with us and schooled us on a little history of the place. Stella’s 2-year anniversary is coming up on September 29th. Majority of the staff has been working since the doors first opened in 2009 This tells me that the management really takes care of their people, who in turn make sure the customers are taken care of. The pizzas are carefully cooked in a 700-degree, wood-fired brick oven. They don’t just use any wood. They use handpicked pieces of ash, pine and pecan wood which gives their pizzas a very distinct and delicious taste. Now because the fire is so hot, the pizzas generally take about 3 minutes to cook. I don’t know about you, but this blew my mind. It takes longer to place the ingredients on the dough than it does to actually cook it. Mindboggling. Less than 6 minutes after our order was taken, they arrived at our table. I dare you to find a quicker turn around time at a restaurant.
The pizza options consist of 13 unique selections including ones topped with egg, pistachio and black truffle. We decided to stick with a traditional Margherita and a pancetta pie to keep things interesting. Pancetta is Italian bacon, which is seasoned and salt cured for no less than 3 months. Finding pancetta as a topping is rare. I’ve only had a Panch pie once in my entire life, so I knew it had to be on my hit list. In addition to the Panch was fresh mozzarella, wood roasted onion and Tuscan kale (which is black cabbage.) The combination of these exclusive ingredients made this one of the better pizzas I’ve eaten in a while. It had a nice, salty and garlicky taste to it. The globs of fresh mozzarella melted in my mouth as they hit my tongue. The crust was absolutely perfect. It wasn’t too thick yet it wasn’t too thin. Nice sporadic, black char spots. I love when you can fold a slice right down the middle and you can hear it crackle and crunch. The pizzas are just the right size for one person. When we eat we end up getting 2 pies and we always walk out feeling like wastes of life. We’re like big, stupid dogs that can’t stop eating.
It really sucks seeing these idiots give negative reviews based solely on the price of the pizzas here. People seem to have a huge problem shelling out $15 for a 10″ pie when “you can get 2 large pizzas from a local place for the same price.” Whatever dude. Stella uses only the freshest ingredients on their pizzas. This, combined with the unique taste of the brick oven and the impeccable service the staff provides, will have you coming back again for seconds. If you disagree with any of my previous statements, you should probably go buy 3 Mama Celeste pizzas instead and eat them alone in your mom’s basement because you sir, are a moron. Mad props Mr. Starr for making this one of the better pizzas I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing.
Whenever I ask most people about their favorite pizza place, one that’s been open for many years is the usual response. Honestly, I’m no different. My favorite pizza place is Gino’s on Frankford Ave simply because I know what I’m getting, and I’ve frequented their pizzeria for close to 20 years. But trying new things is a part of life, and trying new pizza is no different. So when I heard about the rave reviews coming from Pizzeria Stella, a restaurant that’s only been open for two years, I knew it was time to check this place out.
Owned by renowned restaurateur Stephen Starr, Pizzeria Stella provides gourmet pizza in a chic climate for a unique dining experience. If you were passing by on a Friday night, you’d be surprised that such amazing pizza lies behind the swanky exterior. But once you’re inside, make no mistake: their pizza can go toe to toe with any of the corner shops that have been operating for many years.
Although their pizzas could be considered only a little larger than personal sized, each one is moderately priced at around $14. At the advice of my good friend Gus Bellingham, one of the Chefs at Pizzeria Stella, I ultimately decided to go with the Margherita. In keeping with our tradition of ordering a second and more diverse pie, Castro ordered the white Pancetta pie. Having had a few Margherita pies in the past, the buffalo mozzarella used at Stella was really the ultimate factor when it was time to order. As opposed to ordinary mozzarella, buffalo mozzarella is produced from both the milk of water buffalos and cows, and is widely considered superior in the comparison between the two. After my first bite, I understood why. This form of mozzarella was thicker, smoother, tastier, and had an overall better consistency than what I’ve had before. The San Marzano tomato sauce also gave it a truly authentic Neapolitan pizza flavor: not too sweet, but just right. Since their pizzas are brick-oven cooked at about 700 degrees in roughly four minutes, the crust was both blackened and flakey in various parts. After being topped with flavorfully fresh basil leaves, this pizza proved that Stella can compete in such a tough pizza town.