The wood fires are burning at Second and Lombard Streets, as Stephen Starr's crew prepares for the Sept. 29 opening of Pizzeria Stella. (This may be a build-out speed record for the notoriously fussy Starr, as he's opening only five months after signing the deal.)
Workers-- under Starr culinary director Chris Painter and Stella chef Shane Solomon -- are refining the pizzamaking, learning how the dough behaves under certain conditions. The search for a pizzaiolo seems to have been suspended.
They're going for an assortment of Neapolitan pies, basing the recipes on months of research. (You need to read Rick Nichols' story about one of Starr's two long-distance fact-finding tours.)
I got a look-see Saturday night. Among Painter's goals is getting pies with perfect leoparding on the bottom. That's pizzaese for those ever-so-slight burn marks on the underside. (This being a Starr restaurant, I'm sure there will be some cougaring, as well.)