Address: 550 N. Van Buren St., Milwaukee
Cuisine: Modern Italian steakhouse
Chef: Justin Winkler
Mood: Upscale casual
Pricing: Lunch entrees, $11-27; Dinner entrees, $14-49; Cocktails, $10-12
The cuisine at new downtown restaurant Stella Van Buren, developed in part by executive chef Justin Winkler, is centered around classic Italian dishes like chicken parmesan and fresh pasta, as well as steakhouse favorites like bone-in filets with a la carte sides.
“The thing both those items and both those concepts have in common is they’re both comfortable,” said Denise Ploof, general manager. “Simple food prepared extremely well is the mantra.”
The dining room seats 180, and a private dining room can be reserved for meetings of 10 to 30. A complimentary valet is on hand for diners.
The restaurant is located in the newly built Westin Hotel and connects to the U.S. Bank Center via skybridge. It attracts much of its lunchtime and cocktail hour crowd from downtown businesses, Ploof said.
- The Prime Burger is a popular lunch item, made with prime grade Midwestern beef, fontina cheese, tomato jam, balsamic onion and garlic aioli, served on a toasted brioche bun with a side of parmesan fingerling potatoes. The burger is seasoned with just salt and pepper. “We let the meat talk for itself,” Winkler said.
- One of the most ordered menu items is the Burrata Cheese Bruschetta, one of six “fork and knife” bruschettas Stella serves. It is made with fresh heirloom tomatoes, white balsamic, basil, tomato jam and a generous helping of burrata cheese on toasted ciabatta. “It’s such a great summer flavor,” Ploof said.
- With sleek modern décor in creams and dark browns, large wine racks with clear viewing panes, and a separate low key dining area by the well-stocked bar, Stella Van Buren aims for an approachable, upscale casual atmosphere. Floor-to-ceiling picture windows display a bird’s eye view of downtown from the third floor of the Westin on—you guessed it—North Van Buren Street.