Some eateries feel like a trip out on the town, and some feel a little more like home—Pizzeria Stella is definitely the latter.
The neighborhood gem nestled in Headhouse Square (dubbed frequently one of the most picturesque areas of Philly) knows how to make great food, and also, how to make patrons feel comfortable as soon as they walk through the door.
With the backdrop of cobblestone streets, twinkling lights in the distance and a quiet hustle and bustle from neighboring businesses and apartments, this Stephen Starr eatery makes its mark by offering a vast menu of classic favorites. But the flavor that comes from each dish is meant to stand out.
Known as a pizza joint, the appetizers are actually what really steal the show (but note, that doesn’t mean the pies themselves aren’t worth trying). Spanning crispy chickpeas, whipped ricotta, octopus arrabbiata and broccoli rabe just to name a few selections, the starters do what they should—kick your taste buds off on the right foot. The wood-fired meatballs (aka the polpette) stand out, and while we’re on the subject of flavor-filled bites on the menu, the arancini (made with risotto, parmesan and marinara) are certainly a close second.
Salad-wise, the eatery also offers up tasty choices that are a treat for the eyes and the palette (think options like caesar or burrata and beets) and it’s available all day, from open to close.
Pizzeria Stella has always marketed its establishment as a neighborhood spot with the “spirit of an authentic Neapolitan pizzeria,” and it feels like just that. You see the wood-burning ovens from anywhere you sit in the restaurant, it’s a focal point that very easily acts as a tempo-setter for the whole experience—homey and comfortable.
The pizzas themselves come in two categories: With red or white (sauce, not wine). Options span some favorites like margherita (tomato, basil and buffalo mozzarella), and pepperoni (abbruzze pepperoni, oregano, mozzarella and tomato), to a little more unique, like the pistachio (red onion, rosemary and fontina) and tartufo (black truffle, egg and fontina).
In total, Philadelphians have about 13 options to choose from utilizing ingredients such as clabrian sausage, mushrooms, and of course, prosciutto. But, it’s hard to imagine a pizza joint without pasta. Options span from spaghetti pomodoro, to beef bolognese, to linguine cacio e pepe and rigatoni alla vodka. So, carbs here a la hand or fork.
Pizzeria Stella offers an assortment of cocktails (think mules, sazeracs and spritzes), beer by the draft, bottle or can, and also wine (red, white, rose, and a sparkling peach that’s quite refreshing). After dinner, ask about the joint’s digestive collection—it’s a really nice finisher to a hearty meal, and although enjoyed sometimes in coffee, it can be swigged down from a glass as well.
It’s worth mentioning the eatery’s selection of non-alchoholic beverages also, which span lemonade, aranciata, limonata, red cream and more for soft drink options.
The real finisher however, is definitely the dessert. And when talking about treats, Pizzeria Stella offers a few of them in the forms of stracciatella gelato, olive oil gelato, honey mascarpone gelato, chocolate pistachio gelato, blood orange sorbet and lemon sorbet. The gelato tastes as fresh as any of the pasts or pizza dishes and it shows you’re never too old for some dessert out of a little silver dish—although it’s also a fan favorite for kids.
Speaking of kids, families will feel right at home in this spot, which is open 7 days a week for pickup, delivery and indoor/outdoor dining (hours differ depending on day). But somehow, the sizeable yet cozy space also is versatile enough for a date, a solo dine and even a night out with a group—just see for yourself.
For information on Pizzeria Stella (420 S 2nd St.,) visit pizzeriastella.net