“Last weekend we did a medley at the end. Lady Gaga was sung like Frank Sinatra would. We’re just keeping the bar area chill,” Stella’s manager Ed Lopez shares the low down on the dining room and bar that overlooks Perrysburg’s Louisiana Avenue.
Chill, cozy, and sure to end in culinary contentment is the 2016 Stella’s, a northwest Ohio restaurant showcasing its own rendition of an exotic Italian steakhouse. At Stella’s pasta is made fresh daily, Prosecco is poured freely and the wine list has over fifty bottles to choose from.
“We’re not looking to educate diners on the wine. We want to broaden their perspectives on what wine pairs with which dish. We’re putting Napa Cabs with pastas and bringing in Italian wines and pairing them with French food,” front of the house manager Kurt Schlagheck says triumphantly.
The fact that business casual is now accepted fashion and Schlagheck is visibly sporting socks patterned with pineapples, points to the new movement on the Maumee River where the crew and owner decided to redefine fine casual dining.
“The pace is now fun. This is is the pace we are looking to project into downtown Perrysburg and consistency from here on out after we’ve made these changes will bring every aspect together,” emphasizes Schlagheck. “We do have every base of an Italian steakhouse menu and also french delicacies like mousses.”
Menu items start at just seven dollars and go all the way up to forty-five dollars for the Bone-In Ohio Cab Ribeye with Crimini Mushrooms.
Reds by the glass start at just seven dollars for the Gouguenheim Malbec and move up to ten ten for the Fiorentini Chianti from Tuscany. The dessert and wine lists are forever evolving and the main menu changes with the seasons. Stella’s though almost has exclusivity in the area by going sous vide.
Again, Schlagheck, “We vacuum seal our chicken, pork, duck, and our hanger steaks with butter, thyme and spices and cook them in a circulator bath for three hours. We take a lot of pride from what we’re pushing out of that kitchen.”
Besides having a major cosmetic overhaul that, as Schlagheck describes, has turned the kitchen into an area as organized and clean as a hospital, the man manning the sous vide and changing up the menu is Chef Michael Bulkowski. Bulkowski is determined to use as much local fare as possible and keep the tastings fresh for regulars.
Because of this system, there isn’t a signature dish, per say, to highlight. The bar area begs for couples and friends to order tapas style and share everything from the lamb chops to the fennel cured salmon with creme fraiche and fingerling potatoes.
“The lamb chops were Tony’s idea. Tony (Bilancini) is the owner. He said people around here love lamb chops and he’s right. We sell a lot of them. We prepare them Ras el hanout, which is a Mediterranean seven spice blend. We season them with that and finish with some preserve lemon and parsley and yogurt,” Chef elaborates.
The salmon is sustainably raised in one of the North Sea’s channels between Norway and Iceland. The fast moving and ultra-cold currents make this raw option energetically appetizing. Chef Bulkowski’s long time industry friend, Rachel makes the crackers plated with the dish.
She isn’t the only featured “artist” at Stella’s. Hand-blown glass ornaments drip from the three story foyer. Toledo artist Gwen Smith adds heat to blanks and sculpts the sensations which show off the very essence of the Glass City. Pop into Stella’s and pop some Prosecco within five days of your birthday and one of the Stella’s team members will gift you one to take home and cherish.
Stella’s is located at 104 Louisiana Avenue in Perrysburg. Coming up on Monday, March 14 at 6:30 pm Chef Michael Bulkowski is rolling out a five course wine dinner featuring recipes from First Presbyterian Church in Tiffin Ohio from 1923. This is undoubtedly the perfect opportunity to drop in, taste the new menu concepts, and experience the new energy. Suits and ties are out, funky, patterned socks are in, and Stella’s is anything but “stuffy.”