Stella Alpina Osteria
401 Primrose Rd (At Chapin)
Bulingame, CA 94010
Gnocchi and Salmon to die for. Stella Alpina Osteria is a small Italian restaurant located a block from the main Burlingame Avenue shopping area. Located below ground level, most people would never know it was here. The restaurant opened in May 2005, and was featured on PBS’ Check Please TV show. This was our 3rd time dining here.
Stella, which serves Northern Italian cuisine from the Alps, is on the basement level of a commercial building and has some patio seating for warmer nights. They specialize in braised meats, risottos, pastas and ragus.
Decor, Vibe – Stella Alpina Osteria is a very small intimate location, with nice paintings on the walls. Not too fancy compared to restaurant in the City. Mostly older folks in their 40’s and beyond were dining.
Stella Alpina Osteria Menu is pretty wide ranging with the usual Italian restaurant menu containing many Antipasti, Secondi, pasta, entrees, and other dishes. The menu had not changed much from 2008 to 2016, except for the prices!
Signature Dishes – Veal Osso Buco over Mascarpone Polenta, Gnocchi, Salmon
Stella Alpina Food Picks:
Carpaccio All’ Albese ($15) Thinly sliced beef filet, sliced mushrooms, Arugula & shaved Parmigiano drizzled with a lemon infusion was a very good dish. Meat was thicker than usual and of high quality.
Asparagus soup special ($8) tasted almost like beans but was a refreshing soup to start a meal with.
Antipasto Piemontese ($17) “The authentic way to start” A platter of salame di Felino, Prosciutto di Parma, Belle di Cerignola olives, house roasted red bell peppers & artichoke hearts and grissini (serves 2-3) was a nice assortment of the usual Italian starters. Quality was good as was quantity.
Housemade Potato Gnocchi in brown butter with White Truffles Special ($18) The way Matteo’s Nonna used to make it – was the best dish of the night. Homemade, very smooth and well done. We had this dish again in the middle of 2011, again in 2016, and verified how great it was.
King Salmon Fish of the Day ($28) is top notch. They should leave it on the menu as this seems to be the same great special for years. Slightly undercooked, tender, huge portion, a must get. They must poach it to achieve this level of performance. In 2016, we compared it to Boulevard’s Salmon a couple days later.. Surprisingly, this was far better.
Osso Buco di Vitello
Agnolotti – Ravioli with Beef special ($23) was surprisingly good. The edges could have been less firm, but this was a tasty dish.
Steamed Green beans ($9) were expensive but adequate.
Tiramisu ($7) with Espresso and Kahula Soaked Ladyfingers with Mascarpone and cocoa came in a glass cup. Portion was small. Could have used more ladyfingers and less cream. Not too much liqueur flavor.
Seafood Risotto Special ($23) had 4 mussels and several shrimp. Flavor was about average, not a special dish. Could have been a lot warmer. On another occasion it was Saffron Risotto with fresh crab meat. Again it was ok, but nothing compared to the Gnocchi.
Scottadito di Agnello ($28) Grilled Colorado lamb chops, Rosemary and mint pesto was a fair dish. It was cooked to medium rare per request but did not feel hot. Meat was not gamey, but this dish did not wow us. Sauteed Green Beans were a little dull and appeared undercooked. Next time we’ll have to try the shrimp instead.
Escargot Stella Alpina ($14) were dolled up in butter. Pretty underwhelming.
Stella Alpina Osteria’s service was a problem early on. We got shuffled between servers and our main server was aloof. She did not seem to care much unless you made an effort to work with her. Another table ended up with free glasses of port, we ended up with average service. Service has improved, but is not City top restaurant level service. One of those places where if you are a regular, you will probably get better service.
Ordering the right dishes is extremely important at an expensive restaurant like this. One wrong move and you will have an pricey, medium quality meal. Dinner came to about $50 a person with an appetizer, entree, and dessert, pretty expensive for the burbs. We had a better Italian dinner at Delfina in the city for the less money than Stella Alpina Osteria. Also try Donato Enoteca in Redwood City.
Stella Alpina Osteria is clearly one of the better Italian places in Burlingame, definitely better than nearby Il Fornaio. If you go, try to keep costs done by not ordering a lot and by only selecting the best items. $20 Corkage, glasses of wine from $8.