It has been a while... a long while since my last post.
This 2021 started with so many good things: my Green Card first of all, my trip home after a year and a half and finally a very cool project I have been involved in.
A new amazing Italian restaurant has opened in Knoxville!!! A true, authentic Italian one. And by that I mean that the menu has been designed by an Italian person: me. What an opportunity to bring the food I love to Knoxville and share it with the community. I've been asked so many questions: how did it happen, was it hard, what's my role etc etc. I wanted to go over the whole story with you.
Aaron, Jessica and I have a common friend, Maja. When they told her about their idea and mentioned that the only thing they were missing was an Italian person, she immediately connected us. When I met them the restaurant was way far from what it is now and the ideas were still hazy. I clearly expressed my enthusiasm but I also did not know how to be helpful. I knew I didn't want to work in a commercial kitchen and wanted to keep my freedom to travel. We took time to think about what kind of collaboration we could have.
A few days later I knew exactly what I wanted to do: I wanted to choose the dishes on the menu. I wanted to do my best to offer Knoxville the most authentic Italian experience. Of course before taking any decision, I wanted them to try my food and see what they thought. After the fist double date dinner, we had a deal. I was gonna be their menu designer consultant. It sounds easy but it hasn't been. It doesn't mean just listing dishes but creating recipes, working on food cost, on finding the best suppliers and products (which is not easy in Tennessee) and above all, working with a trained chef. This was the hardest part, no doubts. But we made it, together, as a team and the result has been incredible.
photo credits: Tom Bell (IG tombellimage)
Osteria Stella is the place that will take you to Italy for a night. The menu goes from Milan with Ossobuco and Cotoletta to Palermo with its Arancini and Pesce Spada. Part of the menu comes from my favorite dishes like Gnocchi, some others from my childhood memories, like the Risotto alla Milanese that my grandpa used to cook like nobody else in the world. It's the place for a romantic dinner but also for a night with friends sharing some Bucatini and a bottle of Montepulciano. Brother Wolf side, the bar side, has a totally different vibe: bright, yellow like lemons and red like Campari. Is the only bar in Knoxville where you can get an Aperitivo, olives and chips with your drink, small details that make a big difference (ooooh I missed it so much!!!).
We just ended two weeks of soft opening. It couldn't be smoother: the kitchen was on top of everything, front of the house was amazing, customer were so happy. We couldn't dream about anything better than that. Aaron and Jessica have been incredible and I am sure that for Osteria Stella and Brother Wolf this is just the beginning. I think the menu, the place and the people are gonna be the key to its success.
My part is almost done. I've been at the restaurant every night in the past couple of weeks and still will be for a few days. I mainly talked to people, guiding them through the menu and checking with the kitchen that everything was perfect. I will start to enjoy the restaurant as a customer soon :-)
If you want to learn more about Osteria Stella, Brother Wolf and the staff here's a nice article written on Inside Knoxville https://insideofknoxville.com/2021/07/brother-wolf-and-osteria-stella-open-in-the-old-city/
But what's next? Well... a lot of travels are coming up, starting with an RV trip in Colorado, followed by 6 weeks between Spain, Milan, Tuscany, Puglia and NYC.
I will come back to Knoxville recharged and inspired, offering cooking classes and private dinners from October. I will share my trips on IG so I can take you to Italy with me and will send a newsletter when the event calendar is on!