Another Italian restaurant in trouble on this episode of Restaurant Impossible. The owner is overworked, spending 90 hours a week on the job. Yet he doesn’t have a firm grip on all this financial info. Is Robert able to turn this place around?

Stella’s Italian Restaurant | Click here for restaurant’s website

This place has problems in every area from decor to management to employee’s attitudes to the food itself. They are making a simple mistake when it comes to cooking their pasta. They are not properly draining the pasta, so the water gets into the sauce making it into soup. It doesn’t manner how good the sauce is if you are going to make this kind of mistake.

Lesson for Home #1
It’s important when you are in the kitchen to take the time to do the right things or you will undermine all your hard work. Drain pasta in a colander before adding the sauce or use tongs in the cause of long pasta to shake off excess water.

Even more surprising than the watery sauce problem is the fact that though their catering business was allowing them to stay in business. Robert showed them that on a recent catering job serving 27 people they actually lost $20.10! Clearly that is no way to run a business.

Lesson for Home #2
Pay attention to your own food costs. Having a budget for food is very important, so that you are not overspending. There are ways to cut costs, but not cut flavor. It’s good to check periodically what you are spending on meals, so you can change your habits accordingly.

The Recipes
Eggplant Parmesan | Click here for the recipe
A classic dish made with disks of fried eggplant, skins removed.

Tuscan Shrimp | Click here for the recipe
The shrimp is sauteed with white wine and an olive tapenade served over spaghetti.

Follow-Up
The place is still in business. Their pizza is the highlight of their food. I read compliments on that and their eggplant parmesan on restaurant review sites. However since the makeover, the rest of the food isn’t getting the same compliments. A lot of people are calling the food bland. If you go there it seems the pizza is your best option.

Business is doing better. According to Food Network’s site, sales are up 20%.

If you want more Robert Irvine recipes, here are some of his available cookbooks:

This cookbook contains 111 recipes many with complete timelimes and several that are gluten free. An example of the kind of recipes you will find are Lime-Cured Shrimp and Roasted Corn Chowder, Porcini-Dusted Pork Chops with Cremini Mushrooms and Golden Raisins over Horseradish-Scented Potatoes.

In this book Robert shares his personal stories (including cooking for First Lady Laura Bush) and cooking philosophy. There are also recipes to be had like Black Angus Beef Tartare with Toasted Brioche and Fried Quail Egg, Roasted Duck with White Bean Ragout.

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  1. SUE July 27, 2014, 7:09 pm

    As of June 2014, Stella’s of Stratford, CT is now closed. Very sad. Looks like another restaurant is in the process of gutting out the former Stella’s and will be open as a bar/grill called “Dante’s”. We will see how much better this new restaurant is in an economy that is not good for the restaurant business.

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