Apologies in advance to The Illadelph, whose summary of this interesting piece of pizza journalism I'm basically aping here. But the 'Delph has deftly picked out the major points of this piece from Rick Nichols of the Philadelphia Inquirer, and I'm not sure any astute pizza nerd would blockquote anything different. So here goes.

Regarding restaurateur Stephen Starr's new Pizzeria Stella in the City of Brotherly Love, it appears that the various pizza tours Starr and associates went on weren't for naught. They combined a number of details from different pizzerias to come up with something familiar yet different:

The Starr organization wasn't exactly reinventing pizza here. In fact, it was borrowing and, in the case of the estimable pistachio pie (with slivered sweet red onion and fontina), flat-out lifting, some road-tested pizza tricks of the trade.

The Renato oven from Texas is the same brand used by Chris Bianco at Pizzeria Bianco in Phoenix, where the idea for the pistachio pie at Stella came from. And this ...

Other echoes from the June pizzaland junket were in evidence. The subway-tiled kitchen recalled Pepe's, the New Haven shrine to the fresh-shucked-clam pie. (There's a clam pie here, too, the Vongole, though at Stella the fresh clams are oven-roasted to pop them open, then chopped with guanciale, the salty hog jowl.)

Watching the hand-grating of the Parmesan on individual pies, you might have been at Lucali's, the tour favorite on Henry Street in Brooklyn. Sitting at Stella's marble counter felt a lot like sitting at Franny's, the hip Park Slope pizzeria.

What I find interesting in what I've read about Starr's upstart pizzeria is that he's making something that blurs the line between Neapolitan and New York–style pies. As much as I love strict Neapolitan, it's nice to see a high-falutin' pizza-joint-openin' restaurateur step out of formation as of late and do a different style.

Pizzeria Stella

215 Lombard Street, Philadelphia PA 19147 (at 2nd Street; map)
215-320-8000; pizzeriastella.net

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