A real pioneer, Italian-American chef and caterer Suzy Fracassa kicked off the “gourmet burger” trend in Berlin over 10 years ago with the immensely popular Mitte/Prenzlauer Berg restaurant Hazelwood on Choriner Straße in 2005 (“The Bird followed me!”). By 2007 she became one of Weserstraße’s first foodie gentrifiers, shifting her focus to catering with Fortuna’s Table and supper club Fortuna’s Feast. But Fracassa couldn’t keep away from mingling with the day crowd for long. Since last year, she’s been delivering her take on American lunch classics, from roasted BBQ pork belly to New York-style sesame noodles, at café/takeout/delivery spot Stella.
So what’s Stella’s concept?
I’ve been catering for years and have a big customer base. I love it. It seemed like a natural step for me to also open a “showroom” – a place where you can have a look at the food and, if you want, sit down and eat. At the moment we’re only open a couple a days a week. My main concept is the “Stella preorder”: You buy or order the food in boxes, which I’ve already devised. We have vegetarian and vegan but also meaty dishes, something for everyone’s taste. It’s perfect for a buffet.
What’s your most popular dish?
Our New York-style sesame noodles – they’re really addictive.
Can you give us a cooking tip?
Hmm… what’s a good one everybody can use? I know: Never let your garlic brown.
The food trend you hate the most?
Snotty service. I’ll try any food trend but I don’t like the arrogant attitude you often get in fancy restaurants. There’s a huge offer of high-end and super-creative food in Berlin – I’m kind of going back from this over-developed idea. I just want to provide people with good, fresh food.
Where do you like to eat when you’re not busy at Stella?
I don’t want to give away all of my little hole-in-the walls, because I don’t want people to go there. [Laughs] But one I will share is Fred’s Entrecote – a French bistro in Friedrichstraße. I go there because a) it’s not trendy, b) the service is good, c) they have a great, reasonable wine card and d) I love their entrecote with bearnaise sauce.
The best thing about having a restaurant in Berlin…
Is not having a restaurant! I’m so glad I’ve had the experience of having a restaurant, because I learned that I never want to do that again. It’s the hardest work, you have to be on top of your game all of the time and you can’t have a bad day. That just doesn’t work for my lifestyle – instead, with Stella, I’m trying to provide a service that I love but still create a healthy atmosphere for myself and my clients.
Stella, Weserstr. 166, Neukölln, U-Bhf Rathaus Neukölln, Tue-Sat 11-17