With dining and drink destinations such as RIME, The Vintage Room, Brasserie 7452, The Wine Vault, Wild Ember takeout BBQ, and The St. Regis Bar, The St. Regis Deer Valley was already awash in culinary hotspots. Not content to rest on their laurels however, the St. Regis culinary team – headed up by Chef/Consultant Matthew Harris – has added another fine eatery to its roster: La Stellina (“Little Star”), as well as a new adjacent bar.
La Stellina is an Italian restaurant that is the centerpiece of the Resort’s new Snow Park Building, located steps away from the lower station of the funicular building on Deer Valley Drive East. The restaurant’s decor revolves mainly around neutral colors: black, white, gray, and splashes of brown from the chairs and table tops. Frankly, I find the contemporary ambiance a tad sterile and not really reflective of the warm and comforting cuisine served at La Stellina; the dining room would benefit from some color splashes from wall art or fresh flowers on the tables to mirror the vibrancy of the food.
Next door to the restaurant is a smallish new spot for libations called the Astor Bar, the perfect place to sip a glass of Champagne or wine during apres ski, or perhaps to drop in for a pre- or post-dinner cocktail. Wine lovers might choose a bottle from the St. Regis’ 10,000 bottle Wine Vault to enjoy.
My wife and I stopped by the Astor Bar prior to dinner at La Stellina and enjoyed a couple of their signature cocktails. Faith sipped one called The Hugo, made with St. Germain elderflower liqueur, Prosecco, lime juice, and mint, while I selected a lusty libation named Little Italy: Angel’s Envy Bourbon, sweet Vermouth, Amaro, and Luxardo cherries. Other tempting cocktails include the Limoncello Drop, Apres Spritz, La Stellina Negroni, Espresso Martini, and Basil Gimlet.
The La Stellina menu is peppered with traditional Italian dishes, and Chef Matt Harris traveled throughout Italy prior to developing the menu, training one-on-one with Italian cesarine – home cooks who teach authentic Italian cooking from the comfort of their own family kitchens. “La Stellina is a chef’s dream,” said Chef Harris. “Under the tutelage of several Italian cesarines, I learned to cook true, authentic Italian food. I am thrilled to offer the timeless combination of locally-sourced fresh ingredients with Italian meats and cheeses to create the finest in Italian dining for our guests.”
Depending on your appetite, your party might want to kick off dinner sharing La Stellina’s Cheese Board ($15) or Cured Meat Board ($16) with selections of local artisanal cheeses and a rotating variety of cured hand-cut meats. An excellent starter to enjoy is the Wagyu Carpaccio ($16), a generous platter of raw Wagyu beef sliced paper thin with sundried tomato, arugula, lemon zest, aged Parmigiano-Reggiano, balsamic, and a breadstick-size focaccia “crouton.”
Additional tempting starters include a classic Caesar Salad ($11), Crispy Mozzarella Curd ($13), a couple of pizzas (a spicy sausage pizza and a prosciutto pizza – $16/each), Red Shrimp Puttanesca ($16), and Compressed Melon with prosciutto Di Parma, frisee, and aged balsamic ($12).
In Italy, pasta is typically a first course (primo) or served as an appetizer, not as a main course or entree. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with ordering pasta as the main event. However, I would recommend sharing a scrumptious bowl of La Stellina’s Sorpresine with Clams & Mussels ($24) and some juncture during dinner. Sorpresine (“little surprises”) are unstuffed tortellini-type pastas that are typically served with broth, but here come with unshelled clams and mussels in a silky white vodka sauce and topped with toasted breadcrumbs. Unstuffed sorpresine is the ideal pasta shape for soaking up every bit of that sensational sauce.
As mentioned, the St. Regis Deer Valley curates the Wine Vault, which sports some 10,000 bottles of wine ranging from quite affordable to almost astronomical in price – something for every budget. During dinner we enjoyed a very reasonably-priced Michele Chiarlo Gavi white wine as well as Prà Morandina Valpolicella red wine, both from Italy.
Speaking of prices, La Stellina’s pricing is very fair and family-friendly, as is the ambiance, which tends to be on the noisy, boisterous side. It’s a perfect spot to gather with friends and family of all ages after a day on Deer Valley Resort’s pristine ski runs. The restaurant also offers a kids menu with items such as grilled cheese ($10), cheese pizza ($8), and spaghetti with tomato sauce ($10).
My wife never passes up branzino when she spies it on a restaurant menu and La Stellina serves a Whole Roasted Branzino ($42) served simply with broccolini, lemon, arugula and parmesan. Another parmesan-infused dish is Eggplant Parmesan ($28) with crispy breaded eggplant, crushed tomato sauce, spinach and lemon.
Meat dishes include a Roasted Wagyu Steak ($44), Veal Marsala ($44), Chicken Piccata ($32), and the entree I ordered: Pork Chop Saltimbocca, which was a thick and meaty bone-in pork chop topped with sage leaves, wrapped in prosciutto, roasted, and served in a Madeira and mustard seed sauce with mashed butternut squash and broccolini.
Of course, when one thinks of Italian cuisine the first thing to come to mind is probably pasta. And, there is no shortage of pasta on the La Stellina menu, all of it made in-house. Pasta dishes range from Lasagna ($26), Meatball Rigatoni ($28), and Pappardelle Bolognese ($24), to simpler preparations like Spaghetti Pomodoro ($17) and Bucatini All’Amatriciana ($24). It’s impossible for me to resist Spaghetti Carbonara ($22) when it’s offered, and Chef Harris’ version is as good as any I’ve tasted. It’s a simple, straightforward bowl of perfectly cooked, homemade al dente spaghetti tossed with salty guanciale, egg, and Parmigiano-Reggiano. The only way it could have been better would be to serve the pasta with a raw egg yolk on top, but that’s probably something that the Health Department would frown on. At any rate, it was killer carbonara.
For dessert we enjoy a trio of cannolis – pistachio, chocolate & espresso – served with a scrumptious chocolate dipping sauce. Additional desserts offered include tiramisu, flourless chocolate cake, and panna cotta.
Classic, timeless Italian cuisine begins and ends with the best quality ingredients treated with the respect and techniques they deserve. And that’s precisely what you’ll find in dishes from Chef Harris’ talented culinary team at La Stellina – delicious traditional Italian fare that you’ll want to return to time and again – it’s stellar.
Photos by Ted Scheffler & Courtesy of St. Regis Deer Valley
Culinary quote of the week: “It’s in the nature of Italians to live life with a positive tone and to celebrate the invitations that come along in life. Italian food is so conducive to all of that.” – Lidia Bastianichutahbitested@gmail.com
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Originally trained as an anthropologist, Ted Scheffler is a seasoned food, wine & travel writer based in Utah. He loves cooking, skiing, and spends an inordinate amount of time tending to his ever-growing herd of guitars and amplifiers.