A Quick Peek At Stella

Our first look at Neal Brown’s familiar-yet-new take on Southern European classics.

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With a warmed-up decor that creates a richer, old-world quality to the popular space, and a menu featuring seasonal, wine-friendly cuisine, guests visiting Stella will happily find comfort in Neal Brown’s new concept. From the freshly wallpapered walls to an entirely new entrance (Note: Enter off East Street, not Mass Ave), the philosophy of familiar-but-new seems to carry over throughout the whole restaurant.

An extensive Mediterranean-focused wine menu provides general manager Maya Namyslowski (with consultation from sommelier Lindy Brown) an opportunity to shine, while perfectly balanced cocktails accentuate the strong bar program we’ve come to expect from the proprietors of The Libertine. A highlighted gin-and-tonic menu offers refreshing, yet dangerously potent, concoctions.

Determining how best to tackle the focused menu of regional favorites might prove difficult. Whether deciding which of the ever-popular charcuterie selections to enjoy, or exploring an intriguing terrine option, all provide enjoyable results.

With the former Pizzology wood oven still in place, charred octopus with fresh herbs and grilled lemon served atop housemade bread is a standout. Making full use of the wood oven, small plates of roasted vegetables capture flavors of smoke and ember. Heirloom carrots with hummus and candied cumin will excite taste buds and keep diners returning for more.

When it comes to large plates, Stella guides diners on a tour of Southern Europe with Brown’s signature take on classic dishes—the only challenge is selecting the region in which to get lost, in culinary terms. From a bowl of the French favorite Mussels Marinier to the hearty Lamb Osso Buco best devoured with a spoon, most dishes beg to be savored with that housemade bread.

While the concept is simple, the execution is refined, making Stella a welcome addition to Mass Ave’s ever-growing repertoire of restaurants.

608 Massachusetts Avenue, 317-685-2550, stellaindy.com

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