Best Takeout Counter (Gourmet Division) - 2008
Stellina Pasta Café
How many times have you stood in front of a large refrigerated case, trying to decide which take-home meal looked the best, the freshest, the whatever-est? You won't have that problem at Stellina Pasta Café — and not only because the refrigerated case at this south-city restaurant is relatively small. The menu is brief: three pasta dishes, a half-dozen sandwiches, a few salads and sweets. Better yet, every dish is a winner, from the terrific homemade pasta (the specific dishes change daily, but there is always a long-cut pasta, a stuffed pasta and a lasagna) to the mouth-watering "South Side Smoke" pulled-pork sandwich to even the house salad, which features garbanzos, beets and a dash of sunflower seeds. In the mood to cook? You can also get uncooked freshly made pasta. But don't try to claim it as your own — unless you already have a reputation as a gourmet.