There are many reasons why people open their own businesses. For Laura Oest, the reason behind Stella’s Restaurant 210 is her eight-year-old daughter, Stella Oest Romero.
Originally published in Taos News
“I am homeschooling Stella and want to spend as much time as possible with her,” Oest said. “Having the restaurant allows me a lot of flexibility with my hours. And she loves being here too.”
Stella’s Restaurant 210 is actually the second restaurant opened by Oest. The first one was Stella’s Italian Restaurant, which has been in business for six years—she is still involved with it. Before, she was a co-owner of The Downton Bistro.
“Restaurants have been part of my life since I was a teenager,” she said. “I enjoy being around people, serving them good meals and, above all, the warm sense of community that you get out of it.”
The menu: flavor and variety
Oest opened Stella’s Restaurant 210 in July this year with a focus on international and New American cuisine.
“The first Stella’s features mostly Italian food, though we incorporated some of our favorites from The Downtown Bistro,” she said. “Here, I wanted to have more variety so I could change the menu often and bring in new dishes every season. My goal is offering a big selection of flavors so people can have food from every corner of the world.”
Most of the menu items are gluten free.
“I am allergic to gluten myself so I know how important it is,” Oest said. “But the best part is that you’d never know they are gluten free! I use rice flour, which is both healthy and delicious.”
A family-inspired menu
Owner/ chef Oest designed the menu herself, drawing inspiration from her own family and background.
“I wanted a dish that reminded me of my dad, who passed away several years ago,” she said. “He was of German descent and mom used to make potato pancakes for him so I created a grilled shrimp dish with potato and corn pancakes, served with a curry cream sauce.”
Her mother’s garden provided the ingredients for the vegetarian paella that she served all summer long.
“It was wonderful, being able to offer food made with our very own vegetables,” she said. “Everything was so fresh!”
Now they offer as a special a paella valenciana made with seafood and a dab of chorizo.
“It’s a classic paella,” Oest said. “Very Spanish-style.”
They just got their beer and wine license and will start serving them as of November 1st.
Laura Oest and her team
Oest is originally from Valdez, a true Taoseña who grew up eating hearty home-cooked meals. Her mother, Nora Oest, was “the best cook ever,” her daughter says.
“She made bread, jelly, apple sauce and apple pies from our own apple orchard,” Laura Oest said. “She canned food, too. We’ve always been close and I was helping her in the kitchen since I was little. That’s why food and family are so connected in my heart.”
Oest has a Bachelor’s in University Studies from UNM-Taos. She loved college, particularly language classes, but she kept gravitating toward restaurants.
“I’ve worked at The Trading Post, Joseph’s Table, The Bavarian, and then The Downton Bistro, that we opened in 2000 with Marco Barbitta,” she said.
Barbitta is her partner in the first Stella’s. He is also involved with Stella’s Restaurant 210. So is Oest’s mother, Nora Oest, who makes many desserts for both venues.
“She is definitely part of the team,” Oest said. “Her chocolate cake is one of people’s favorites.”
Laura Oest makes the tiramisu and the pastel tres leches. Her husband, sheriff’s sergeant Rick Romero, also helps out when he is off duty.
“Together, we rebuilt the patio and made the tables for the restaurant,” Oest said. “This was Dara Thai and had only booths so we needed to do a total renovation.”
Before that, the place used to be Taos Central Station.
“It’s a beautiful location and very much part of Taos history,” Oest said. “We hope that Stella’s 210 becomes a new landmark in the downtown area.”
“I think it will,” Stella Oest Romero chimed in. “It has the best food because… well, my mom makes it. And she is a great cook.”
Stella’s Restaurant 210 is located at 210 Paseo del Pueblo Sur
Phone: (575) 751-1010
Hours: Open for dinner from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday
Chef Laura’s recipes
Gluten Free Potato Corn Pancakes
2 cups mashed potatoes
½ cup whole kernel corn
¼ cup rice flour
2 Tablespoons olive oil
Mix together mashes potatoes and corn. Whisk in egg, rice flour, and olive oil. Cook on high heat on a flat top or in a sauté pan. Place with large spoon same size as regular pancakes. Do not turn until edges begin to brown. Makes approximately 10 pancakes.
Gluten Free Panna Cota
2 cups heavy cream
¼ cup milk
½ cup powdered sugar
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 package gelatin
Lightly butter 5 containers, preferably round or slightly tapered.
Pour cold milk into a measuring cup and sprinkle in gelatin. Let sit for at least 5 minutes.
Combine heavy cream and powdered sugar in a sauce pan. Whisk in powdered sugar before cooking and continue to whisk throughout. When cream begins to boil add vanilla and finally add the milk/gelatin, whisking continuously, until fully dissolved and immediately remove from heat. Pour into containers and refrigerate for 4-5 hours. To serve, turn upside down onto a plate. Serve with raspberry sauce.