Denver’s Lo Stella Channels Old Italy

A thriving piece of old Italy lies tucked away in downtown Denver about a mile from the 16th Street Mall and amidst Colorado museums, galleries and cafes. Lo Stella Ristorante is an unassuming, hidden gem owned by Italian native Alessandro Polo. In addition to the restaurant’s 165-year (and counting) success in Italy, Lo Stella had a (comparatively) brief 25-year presence in Tokyo. How’s that for a worldly establishment? Now in its 8th generation of family run operation, Lo Stella boasts food and fare straight from Portofino, Italy. Choices such as Lasagna al Pesto, Grandmas Bolognese and Pansotti in Salsa di Noci (Ravioli with Walnut Sauce) grace this menu of authentic Italian dishes (you’ll find no Alfredo here). The all-homemade-all-the-time dishes are modestly priced and massively flavored.

Walking into the restaurant, I noticed a simple, understated decor scheme. The large front windows caught my eye immediately both for their aesthetic value and the natural light they allow to enter the restaurant. A lunch lit by the afternoon sun and nothing else is relaxing in itself without even discussing the cuisine. My personal favorite is the outdoor patio area that allows for additional seating choices for a family meal or a casual happy hour. Lo Stella’s location and style gives off an energy indicative of our inclusive and cultured city. Whether you’re a local looking for a sunny place to unwind after work, or a visitor looking for a calm place to enjoy a Colorado meal, Alessandro will make sure your experience is a pleasant and memorable one.

On my first trip to Lo Stella, I sat down for a midday meal of fish ravioli (“Our signature dish,” Polo says), beef carpaccio and a glass of Chardonnay. The quality of the food complemented the attentiveness of both the staff and Polo himself. The pasta was al dente, the fish was delectable and the wine was perfectly chilled. I left feeling, well, full, and welcomed. Both the servings and the service gave me a warm, family-centered vibe that left me planning my next trip back to Italy … I mean Denver.