Stellini, the self-proclaimed “Jersey-style” Italian restaurant tucked among the pines off Executive Park Road on Hilton Head Island, is proudly celebrating its 30th anniversary.
Joe Pesce opened Stellini Italian Restaurant in 1989. Since then, his daughter Elise and her husband, Kyle Parlagreco, have built a loyal following among locals and visitors.
“Great food, consistency, service and family are the heart and soul of a restaurant,” Elise said. “Kyle, myself or my dad are always on premise, and our executive chef Larry Schneider has been with us for 18 years.”
The restaurant’s traditional Italian recipes come from the Pesce and Schneider families. Signature dishes include zuppa di pesce, rigatoni bolognese and pesto tortellini. Other standouts are crabmeat ravioli, mozzarella-stuffed meatballs, lamb shank osso buco, and veal saltimbocca.
“Our sous chef, Tracy Dietrich, joined us last year and has some fresh new ideas,” Elise said.
Innovative nightly chef specials also are offered, and the popular three-course early bird menu includes an appetizer, house salad and entrée with a choice of house wine or a soft drink.
Elise makes the majority of Stellini’s desserts. In the fall and winter, she features a panettone bread pudding — an Italian Christmas sweet bread traditionally made with candied fruit and raisins — served with a creamy Amaretto sauce. The restaurant’s famous cheesecakes are offered year-round; the pumpkin cheesecake runs through fall, spring’s offering is a ricotta cheesecake, and in the summer, blueberry cheesecake takes center stage. Stellini also make custom cakes for special occasions of all types and sizes.
To celebrate the restaurant’s 30th anniversary, the owners are temporarily bringing back the original menu — including prices from 1989. The throwback menu was a hit during a week this fall and will run again for a week in January. Dates will be announced on the restaurant’s Facebook page, “Stellini Italian Restaurant.”
“We want to thank our customers. They are why we’ve been here for 30 years,” Elise said. “We’ve seen our customers’ families grow over the years. We often have three generations sitting at the table for dinner.”