The Kenwood Press
: 06/15/2012

At the Kitchen Table: March Madness

Delightful Glen Ellen Star

The hottest new dining spot in Glen Ellen has to be the Glen Ellen Star restaurant, which opened less than a month ago to much excitement and anticipation. Located on the corner of Arnold Dr. and Warm Springs Road, you canít miss it. Just follow the line of people walking in that direction. Starís cheerful maitreí d will be waiting to greet you, along with a tempting menu and cozy atmosphere.

My favorite thing about this restaurant is the beautifully-situated wood burning oven and the open kitchen, allowing you to appreciate all the hard work that goes into putting together dish after dish. Each plate is lovingly attended to by owner and Chef Ari Weiswasser. Ari and his wife, dynamo Erinn Benzinger-Weiswasser, wanted to create a warm, rustic neighborhood restaurant and they hit the nail on the head with an inspired interior space. The restaurant is modern, but with a rustic cottage feel, open high-beam ceilings, new wood flooring and lightweight aluminum chairs. Even the bathroom is stunning! Along with the delicious food, these ingredients add up to a wonderful dining experience.

On the night we were there, the sitting area around the kitchen was filled with singles and couples all trying out the various menu choices. I noticed two well-known local restaurateurs dining together, checking out their (friendly) competition, and having fun in the process. They were eating the paella and lamb, (exquisite looking, by the way) with approving eyes and taste buds. It was fun to see the wait staff dancing and whirling around them while keeping their wine glasses topped off.

My husband and I shared a special salad of grilled zucchini, zucchini blossoms, roasted potatoes, pickled tomato, and croutons with a couple of dollops of yogurt raita at $9. Following the salad came a perfectly baked Margherita pizza for $12. A real deal! With their wood-fired oven sizzling away in the background, you could taste it before it landed in front of you and into your mouth. The just-browned crust, tomato sauce, mozzarella and fresh basil is one of my favorite flavor combinations. What could be better for the arrival of summer? Our main course was paella with perfectly cooked octopus and shrimp. It was a little pricey at $25, but for the two of us, worth every penny and every bite! We donít always order dessert, but who can resist homemade gelato for $5? Salted peanut butter gelato, anyone? My husband was swooning; I thought he was going to fall off his chair. And if you canít finish it, thatís fine; its served in a sweet half-pint container with a lid for easy travelling.

Call ahead for a reservation or go online and check out their take-out menu. Hours: Sunday-Thursday 5:30-9 p.m., Friday and Saturday 5:30-9:30 p.m. 13648 Arnold Dr. Glen Ellen.

Happy Dining!