now with Pizzeria La Stella at 504-6581 Aulds Road, Nanaimo
Established in 2004 in The Village at Grand Traverse Commons, Trattoria Stella is an award-winning Italian restaurant with an emphasis on authenticity and service. Our seating is limited due to COVID-related restrictions, so we are reservation only for the foreseeable future. We have a frequently changing menu featuring house made charcuterie, pasta, burrata, gelato, desserts and more. Our cocktail program is extensive. Our wine list is loaded with hand-selected items primarily from our three favorite peninsulas (Italy, Old Mission and Leelanau) with a sprinkling of favorites from elsewhere in the world.
It may not come as a surprise to foodies in Nanaimo, but La Stella Trattoria on Wesley St. is one of our go-to joints for date nights, dinner and drinks, or when we just want a really good wood-fired pizza.
La Stella is tucked away in the Old City Quarter on a quiet, shady street. It’s a small restaurant but has patio space to expand to in warmer months. It’s pretty classy for Nanaimo so while wearing casual wear is perfectly fine one wouldn’t feel out of place in something dressier. The service is generally very good though we’ve had some bad experiences too, such as lost reservations and forgotten entreés. In both those cases we felt there were inexperienced staff working. For this particular visit our server was knowledgeable, friendly, and attentive.
The menu at La Stella consists primarily of pizza and pasta with a good selection of appetizers and a few salads. Much (all?) of their pasta is house-made. Don’t sleep on the gnocchi. It’s fabulous. They have (to our knowledge) the only wood-fired pizza oven in town and their crusts are always delightfully crisp. Tonight we started with the marinated olives (a classic) though as usual we were tempted to start with their excellent meatball appetizer. Being huge pizza fans we shared two pizzas: the Calabrese, with the spicy soppressata and an egg; and the Funghi, loaded with mushrooms and potato(!). Both were flavourful and exciting to eat. For dessert we had the panna cotta of the day. It was extremely creamy pudding and topped with fresh cherries and lemon shaved ice. On a hot day, this was revelatory.
We want to note that this was written during the COVID pandemic so our perception of value for dollar is probably skewed, particularly with some places raising their prices to offset additional costs. We expected this at La Stella but were pleasantly surprised to find they hadn’t materially increased their prices. At roughly $20 per entree it’s a good mid-range option. The entree size is ample; in order to pull off a 3-course we had to take some leftovers home. We consider this to be great value.
La Stella is a gem of a restaurant that rises above typical Nanaimo options with well-crafted food and a charming location, all with reasonable prices. Check them out and let them know we sent you!