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Stella Blu hits its stride, draws widespread praise

By ANNALIA FIORE - Staff Writer | Jul 22, 2023

Stella Blu has secured its place as the place to dine and drink in Nashua, as the city’s most-awarded restaurant and bar this year. Located on East Pearl Street, the restaurant won best server and best bartender and, if two awards were not already a significant achievement, their executive Chef Julie Pinksten was a finalist for best chef.

With subdued blue lighting, a few well-spaced tables and a sleek open bar, the interior is distinctly modern and hip, or what restaurant owner Jeff Bois calls “upscale casual”. They also have substantial outdoor seating, which is part of Bois’ vision for shaping Nashua’s downtown scene.

While Stella Blu used to be considered a tapas bar, the place has intentionally veered away from such associations. When Jeff Bois took over in 2019, one of his goals was to turn the place into a full-service restaurant. The pandemic proved to be a valuable opportunity for the restaurant to make this shift.

“Covid was a really good blessing. We took that time to do a hard reset,” said restaurant manager Elissa Drift.

Chef Pinksten has helped with Stella Blu’s shift by designing a full-service menu that changes seasonally. Pinksten also creates weekly specials that she tries out for the long-term menu; her plates focus on fresh, in-season foods. One special that sounded particularly delectable was a lamb chop with a berry compote and celery root puree. Other plates that she likes making are sushi rolls and the Caprese salad made with fried green tomatoes.

The restaurant’s reset also involved the intentional curation of its atmosphere and pacing. “We changed the layout of the restaurant to be more about quality over quantity, not jamming as many people as we could, and reducing the amount of tables and congestion so that people coming in had a better experience,” said Bois.

In addition to reducing tables, part of Stella Blu’s reset included hiring a small number of devoted staff instead of a large pool of temporary employees. “You’re not going to have a huge variety in our staff. You’re gonna come in here and you’re always going to see some of the same faces. People do not come and go, which is not standard for this industry,” Drift said.

Stella Blu is expanding its business by opening up a new restaurant and bar called The Pearl right next door. The Pearl will focus more on small plates and is planned to open within the next month.


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