With this summer’s grand opening of the bustling Aldrich Street district — featuring everything from a new state-of-the-art Alamo Drafthouse to fine dining destinations like L’Oca d’Oro — the Mueller development is finally living up to its promise as a live-work neighborhood. Now, there is even more reason to play in the area with the opening of Stella Public House, the second location of a San Antonio concept from the owners of Halcyon coffee bar.
The bright space in the district's Diamond Building was a collaboration between Maker Architects (Rock Rose in Domain Northside, Vinaigrette) and designer Joel Mozersky (Mattie’s at Green Pastures, Native Hostel) and features handiwork from some of the area's best artisans.
Visitors are greeted by a large living wall created by Monique Capanelli of Articulture Designs, echoing the landscaping outside. In the main dining area, custom midcentury modern-inspired fixtures from Austin’s Warbach Lighting & Design lend intimacy to the tall ceilings, while blocky communal tables from San Antonio’s Karlis Creations provide an anchor to the knotty wood used in the flooring and back wall and the ethereal blue tile used at the bar.
The commitment to artisanship, however, isn’t just confined to the interior. Executive chef Roland Aguirre has adapted the menu from the first location using locally available produce. Wood-fired Neopolitan-style pizzas get first billing, with options sure to please everyone from the pickiest eaters to the snobbiest foodie.
We especially enjoyed the wild mushroom, a signature chewy crust topped with oyster, cremini, and shitake mushrooms, caramelized onions, mozzarella, and an additional sprinkle of their four-cheese blend. The Bee Sting lives up to its name with a sweet hot punch, playing a drizzle of local honey off serrano peppers and spicy soppressata salami, while the Verdura Amor is one of the most unexpected vegetarian pies in Austin — loading the crust with roasted corn, asparagus, plump cherry tomatoes, zucchini, lemon-dressed arugula, and dandelion greens.
To supplement the main event, Stella offers a variety of salads and small plates. The shareable dishes stick to the classics, with a few surprising tweaks. Orecchiette pasta is tossed in a bolognese, amping up the richness with duck confit. A few mushrooms are thrown into the velvety gouda mac and cheese, spiked with just enough truffle oil to deepen the flavor. And springy meatballs are given a subtle sweetness with the addition of lamb to the traditional ground pork. Lighten things up with a caprese salad that sticks to the time-honored formula, letting its local ingredients shine. On date nights, order several and share a wood-fired main (the Wagyu sirloin is nicely priced at $25). You’ll naturally want to end with a rich salted caramel panna cotta topped with bruleed banana and an almond biscotti.
Of course, Stella might just also become your go-to if you are still spending your days swiping right. The draft wall mostly focuses on Texas and local craft breweries, but there are few out-of-towners sprinkled in. We were especially happy to see a selection from Tulsa’s Prairie Artisan Ales. The bar program makes great use of the variety in the beer cocktails. Ease first date awkwardness with the Backwoods Barbie (Maker's Mark, lemon juice, chamomile tea, honey, black pepper, and a local IPA topper) or the Eclipse (Avion silver tequila, lemon juice, thyme, and blonde ale) — cocktails that will slightly change in character as the restaurant’s taps change.
The love of beer is built into the restaurant's business model. Periodically, Stella will be hosting beer pairing dinners like an October 12 event featuring Friends & Allies.
Although you can check out the place now, Stella will be celebrating its grand opening on October 6, with brunch service coming soon. We are already drooling over the wood-fired blueberry pancakes and the $10 mimosa flights.