I must admit I had never heard of Stella's until recently when one of the girls in our Restaurant Club suggested it, and then I could not stop hearing about it. Apparently this place has a long standing tradition in Richmond, and if you check it out on the Internet you will find nothing but praise. And I would say I have to agree with all those reviews!
I myself enjoy Greek food when I do eat it, but I can't say I have ever really gone to a Greek restaurant, and have mostly only experienced Greek food in bits and pieces and at the annual Greek Festival. So there are some dishes that I have had several times, and some that I have never heard of or tasted. Either way, if you're interested in trying new things or just enjoying your regular favorites, Stella's is a great option.
Nestled in the Near West End, just over the highway from the Museum District is this charming little gem. It is a small place (so reservations are recommended) but the decor is lovely. Bright and airy, with a sweet yet classy feeling. And they even have a projector in the back screening black and white films on the wall, which just adds to the ambiance. This would be a great date place.
Luckily I went here with Restaurant Club and we decided to split two bottles of wine and a couple of appetizers, as well as each get an entree, so I definitely got to try alot of food. Our waitress was extremely helpful and friendly, explaining what menu items were like and making recommendations. It was very refreshing.
For starters we got the grilled octopus, the hummus & tabouli ("Stella's famous"), and the spanakopita, a must have at any Greek place. Even if you think you don't like Greek food you will like spanakopita. The only part I wasn't much impressed with was the octopus, it was chewy (though I guess it is supposed to be, hehe) and you mainly just tasted the char grilling. But the spanakopita was delicious, and oh my god, the pita bread for the hummus was AMAZING. It was soft and warm, right out of the oven. It didn't need any hummus. In fact I could have just eaten pita bread for my entire meal. If you go here PLEASE get this appetizer, you will not be disappointed!
After analyzing the large menu several times, I finally settled on the artichoke moussaka as my entree. I have had regular moussaka before at the Greek festival, and if you don't know what it is, it's very similar to lasagna, but has a more "spiced" taste. I figured I would go for something I knew, but with a twist. It was good but I wish I had realized that it didn't have meat in it. It was similar to a creamy vegetarian lasagna, and I am much more of a red sauce and ground beef kind of girl. One of the other girls got the regular moussaka and I definitely preferred that dish. I guess it's just all in what you like!
Our other friends had the pastichio (like moussaka but with fat pasta noddles instead of layers), the pikelia which was a tasting of all the standard Greek dishes (including tzatziki, which was raved about at our table) and the No. 5 Pasta (another Stella's famous), a huge mound of baked spaghetti with fat noodles. They were all very yummy. I think if I went back, I would get the moussaka if I wanted to go traditional Greek, and the No. 5 Pasta if I just wanted something delicious.
|Stella's famous No. 5 Pasta ... wow!|
They also have several desert options which I believe they change daily. We were extremely stuffed but really wanted to try the deserts, so we each got one to go. I got the chocolate baklava which was very good! I only wish that they carried regular baklava at all times. I would have preferred the original taste, as opposed to it being more chocolate focused. But let's just say I managed to get it down ;)
I must admit to you that this was our most expensive Restaurant Club outing to date. But we did get three appetizers to share, two bottles of wine, 5 entrees, and 5 desserts, all for around $45 a piece. You can definitely eat here for much cheaper, and I did not feel like the menu was overpriced at all for the size of the portions and the quality of the food, which has not been the case at several of the restaurants we have tried. I think the food and atmosphere was so good we just went a little overboard this time!
Everyone in Restaurant Club really enjoyed Stella's. It is a cool place to go that is out of the way, and it's much more relaxed than alot of places in the Fan or Carytown. It just seemed more homey and welcoming. Here's a great example: Stella's has a long communal table in the middle of the restaurant where they sit random groups together side by side, no space in between, just like at Burger Bach. At Burger Bach I found this annoying and pretentious ... at Stella's I found it enchanting. If that feeling speaks to you, you should definitely give Stella's a try.
Check out the Stella's website at: http://stellasrichmond.com/