This West Berkeley restaurant’s name is Italian for “star grandmother,” but you’d be remiss if you came expecting mostly Italian grandma food — lasagnas, minestrones, and such. Instead, co-owners Tim Carlon (the chef) and Sarah Nasgovitz call on a variety of regional and international influences — including New Orleans, Latin America, and the Middle East — to create a menu that feels surprisingly modern for a place specializing in “grandma food.” Case in point: Would you believe Stella Nonna serves some of the best Korean fried chicken we’ve eaten in the Bay Area? Carlon has mastered the traditional double-frying technique, which yields well-blistered, shatteringly crisp skin. Other menu highlights include house-made pappardelle with a meaty porcini mushroom sauce, tender bacon-braised greens, and thick wedges of good ol’ American carrot cake.

— Luke Tsai

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