Trattoria Stella
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Celebrating 20 Years of Enduring Relationships through Trattoria Stella

It is hard to believe we’ve hit this milestone. In some ways it feels like it can’t possibly have been so long. Then I look at our dedicated team, our longtime guests, the farmers who grow for us, the wine professionals with whom we’ve worked, and countless others who invoke a flood of memories that remind me of just how personal this business is and of how far we really have come. We owe much of our success to a rich tapestry of relationships that we’ve woven over two decades. It’s these very connections that are the fibers of Trattoria Stella’s enduring story.

Partnerships with Suppliers

Since we started, our partnerships with local vintners, farmers, and global suppliers have been the cornerstone of our foundation. Their stories intertwine with ours, bringing unique flavors and stories to our establishment. Take Giorgio Rivetti, for instance, the star of our first wine dinner in February 2005. I visited La Spinetta, coinciding with Giorgio’s new cantina opening in Grinzane Cavour, just as my daughter, Sofia, was about to turn three. After days of travel, Sofia slept on a white couch while I dined with Giorgio, his then partner Anja, and international journalists. When Sofia woke up, Giorgio placed her at the table’s head, and his sister Giovanna made her a special meal, making the unfamiliar setting comforting and extending my visit. That’s when I learned from Giorgio that his favorite pairing for Nebbiolo is “Champagne, of course!”—a sentiment I share. Since then, I’ve enjoyed many visits, exploring his Alta Lange vineyards, and exploring the evolution of his Barbaresco wines. Last spring, Myles visited, cooking with Giovanna and bringing back new ideas and fond memories including of the best fed chickens. We’re excited to welcome Giorgio back to Trattoria Stella on June 4, celebrating twenty years of friendship and collaboration with him and his team.

Surrounded by Talent

One of the most distinctive features of our dining room is the original Greilickville brick. My favorite thing about it is that it serves as the perfect backdrop for the oil paintings of Linda Hankes-Smith. Linda is not only a gifted artist, but is a close friend who has seen me through literally everything since I moved to Traverse City twenty-five years ago. We’ve shared so much in the countless times I’ve sat in her chair getting my haircut while surrounded by her beautiful paintings in progress. It has been an absolute gift to have decades of Linda’s art on our walls since the day we opened making Linda herself an integral part of the Stella experience. Our relationship with Linda proves the power of creativity and friendship in how it has defined and elevated the familiarity of our space for everyone who enters.

Embracing Employee Alumni Successes

We beam with pride for the flourishing paths our former team members have taken to achieve great success after they leave us. Claire Palmer’s leap from our beloved team to prospering as a web designer with her company Juniper Folk Designs illustrates the legacy of growth and opportunity the Trattoria Stella family provides. When it came time to redesign our web site to coincide with our anniversary, it was an easy decision to go with Claire. She is smart and talented and has a deep understanding of our values and aims having previously worked for us as a server. The process of redesigning our site and the final result reflects successful and open collaboration that was all the more meaningful for the personal connection Claire has to our business and many members of our team. We are so proud to celebrate Claire’s success and that of other former employees who have gone on to realize personal triumphs and milestones after leaving our employ.

Strengthening Community Ties through Events

Our core—our very essence—is community. Holding events is our way of sharing with our neighbors, supporting community partners, and uniting in celebration. On Sunday, July 7, our team is staging a big community picnic on the front lawn of Building 50. More than just celebrating the conclusion of Cherry Festival and our own milestone, we are using it as a means to benefit and toast to our long-standing community partners while showcasing the food, wine, beer, and musical talent of friends and fellow collaborators. Chef Myles’s culinary team will be executing an incredible menu of traditional Stella favorites. We will have a draft cart with beer from Farm Club, cider and the new release of rosé from Left Foot Charley, and several of our own crafted alcohol-free selections. Left Foot Charley, also celebrating their 20th anniversary this year, will be on hand with premium bottles on offer; and we will be releasing our exclusive sparkling wine. Thanks to Northwoods Soda, there will be plenty of options to fuel the kiddos through the activities we have planned. All of the proceeds will benefit Cherryland Humane Society, Up North Pride, Norte, SEEDS, and 4-H. We thrive together, we support one another—this is what community means to us. We can’t think of a better way to celebrate than to give back. And, there will be puppies and goats!


For twenty years, relationships have been our most cherished ingredient—a spice that has flavored every dish with love, commitment, and collaboration. Looking into the horizon, we raise our glasses with heartfelt gratitude, to the familiar faces and spaces, old acquaintances and new ventures. Here’s to the people, the produce, and to the endless possibilities of the relationships yet to be served!

We are celebrating the mosaic of human connections that make every dish a story, every event a memory, and every guest a friend. Join us as we continue to celebrate life and the relationships that make it worth savoring.

To the next twenty years and beyond, salute!

Trattoria Stella
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