I have wanted to eat at Stellina for almost 10 years now, so when going to the theater in Boston it made sense to jump right off the pike and eat in downtown Watertown. This place is very nicely situated right on Main street not too far from the pike entrance and exit. There is also ample parking behind it.
The host wasn't pleasant or rude, but clearly a smile would have actually killed him so we received none. The inside was claustrophobic and the weather was pleasantly warm, not sticky for once so we changed our reservation to outside with no complaints.
WOW! The outside patio is GORGEOUS!! cobblestone, flower and plant beds with grapevines above and surrounding, it felt as though we were in Tuscany.....
Until our server came.
She took us out of our peaceful habitation and made us feel as if we were being served by "Flo" from the diner. She grabbed our water glasses and started filling them. Didn't ask us whether or not we wanted still or carbonated. As it happened we wanted carbonated and she replied with, "well you don't want this"? She returned and placed the bottle on the table, didn't pour, didn't bring a wine glass, and only brought lime after we asked.
Not sure who this woman was but she was NOT polished and kind of ruined the dining experience. I know it sounds nit-picky, but we expected a certain level of professionalism. Perhaps I had too high hopes. But is it asking too much for a server to return and pour our carbonated water? If she had, our bottle would have been empty and we would have ordered another, more tip for her.
She also had ZERO wine presentation skills. We may as well have popped the bottle open ourselves. No presentation, no fanfare and again, no pours(other than our first glass). Must be a self-serve kind of place.
I thought perhaps we had a bad server but the other server on the patio that night was apparently just as unpolished to her guests as well. I assume they must have been family/related to the owners. They were both older women with absolutely no grace, but feisty demeanors. Again, see Flo from the diner.
The only decent service we received was from the food runners, who were young, and gave generous smiles. We had to ask them about the dip that came with the bread. "Flo" just dropped off our bread basket, didn't bother explaining what kind of bread it was (there were numerous types of bread in the basket including what looked like pita chips) . The dip was interesting and since it wasn't butter or olive oil, she might have filled us in on what it was.
The watermelon &feta salad was lacking and sloppy,and truth be told I had the exact same salad for half the price at Bertucci's the week before.
But enough with the bad, I rated Stellina four stars because the food was very, very good.
Right away I learned that the bass that I wanted was sold out even though it was just five. But I respect that they order fresh seafood and serve foods in season.
By the way when I expressed disappointment, "Flo" said, "Well whadya gonna do? Bass season is over." Geesh.
Our Caesar was great as was the fried oysters app. However when I asked for some type of aioli , Flo handed me hollandaise sauce.
But boy oh boy were the entrees and dessert fabulous. The mushroom lasagna was divine. The homemade pasta was so thin it was crepe like. Goodness it was hard to put down. Such wonderful flavors. Loved the addition of bechamel. Reminded me of mousakka, minus the beef, and eggplant,etc.
My dinner date's chicken marsala was equally great. She went on and on about it that although I don't eat meat, AND don't like marsala, I had to try her mashed and mushrooms with a little of the sauce. She was right, it was great.
The greatness carried on through dessert. I could spend an entire page writing about how great the desserts were. We ordered three. Both the napoleon and the summertime napoleon were too good for words. We didn't want to keep eating, but we simply could not help ourselves. We also ordered a cannoli and it was surprisingly fresh. It should be noted that the berries in the summertime napoleon were also so fresh and crisp. Also we ordered two cappucinos and BOTH arrived PIPING hot with mucho foam intact.
Back to the gripes, the waitress ignored us for 10 minutes as we desperately tried to make eye contact with her, normally we wouldn't have minded, but we did have a show to go to.
We weren't thanked for our tip and we didn't even get a friendly smile goodbye.
Perhaps the staff at Stellina's knows how good their food is and that is why they behave the way they do. For now the food is enough to bring us back.
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