Stella’s modern vibe embraces “old fashioned” tradition
By Josh Koerner
From North Broadway on the east side of the Fox River to Main Avenue on the west, De Pere’s historic core offers a bite-sized reflection of the greater Green Bay area’s robust restaurant culture.
Some are fresh faces, chasing current dining trends, while others cater to the pub-and-grub style Wisconsin loves.
A select few are community staples which can boast decades of tradition in their century old buildings.
And then there’s Stella’s.
A relatively recent addition to the area, Stella’s, 401 Main Ave., already feels like it has always been a part of the scene.
With a classic French style, the exterior fits nicely with the historic buildings in the area while adding a touch of color and flare.
A bit more modern, however, is the open-concept bar.
When the shutters raise, echoes of merriment can be heard pouring over Main Avenue clear to the river.
It makes me yearn to stop whenever I happen by.
Inside, you are greeted by one of the most polite and service-oriented crews in all of De Pere.
Even at a passer’s glance, staff members can be seen working as a unit in an effort to assure that guests are properly accommodated and tables are turned over promptly for the next guest.
Now, before I get into the menu, I would like to take a moment to drop a PSA on one of Stella’s drink menu features.
Stella’s is home to a uniquely Wisconsin beverage that has become a personal favorite.
The “Sconnie Old Fashioned” ties together two of my favorite Wisconsin drink traditions: the brandy old fashioned and a brandy slush.
The aromatic finish on this finely fruity libation calls to mind memories of holidays past and just feels like the comfort and warmth of home.
Now, if you were just popping in for a couple of those fine old fashioneds, maybe you wouldn’t quite have a full entree on your mind.
Lucky for you, Stella’s shines with its small plates, from savory and satisfying flatbreads to fabulously fanciful salads.
Among the former, the brussel flatbread is my clear favorite.
The crisp, flavorful fried sprout petals come generously heaped over the crust, adorned with balsamic and strands of grated parmesan.
Beneath, they conceal the unmistakable flavor of Neuske’s own bacon, separated from the crisp, flaky flatbread by a layer of mozzarella.
If that doesn’t get your mouth watering, perhaps roasted asparagus accompanied by wild mushrooms over an herb-forward pesto sauce is more your speed.
Any way you slice it, Stella’s has its flatbread game down.
On the salad side, the best, in-season salads can be found on the menu.
This season, Stella’s featured a summer salad that is as breathtaking as it is delicious.
Fresh greens come nestled in a bowl formed from thinly-sliced cucumber.
These greens come adorned with candied walnuts, blanketed in a beautiful array of fresh berries, accompanied by wine-soaked apples and garnished with a plume of spring onion.
The plethora of fresh ingredients allow you to mix-and-match as you work your way towards finding your personal “perfect forkful.”
Meanwhile, the chardonnay-soaked apples provide an interesting and unique flavor experience as you hunt for those delicious candied nuts.
When it comes to a main course, there are many wonderful options to choose from.
Maybe your go-to is the lemon truffle shrimp scampi with its thick noodles and rich sauce, or the cedar plank salmon with its high citrus notes and accompanying quinoa.
Every dish brings something to love, and there are no poor choices.
There is one dish that stands a cut above the rest, however: the ribeye.
Stella’s ribeye steak is a true crowd pleaser.
The rich, meaty flavor of the cut is further accented by large cloves of garlic that have been delicately folded into the marbled fat.
Not only do these cloves provide spectacular flavor to the cut as a whole, they also add a bit of adventure to the dining experience.
Every hidden garlic pocket brings with it a burst of additional flavor that makes those select bites just that much more heavenly and rich.
With a thimble of au jus, a smattering of tallow fried potatoes, and a garnish of green stuff, Stella’s ribeye is a meal that dreams are made of.