What is Cafe Stellina named after?

TERI: Our 9½-year-old daughter is the inspiration for this place. We opened up on 20th and Union as a small coffee shop. Surprisingly, our neighborhood didn't have a coffee shop in the area, so it was a good idea rather than redundant. At that time we only had five tables. When we moved into this space we expanded both our tables and our menu. Now we have more food and less coffee.

What types of dishes do you serve?

We go shopping each day for ingredients, so everything is handpicked and freshly prepared. That said, we don't have a set influence—we pull from all ethnicities because it's more fun. We always have great vegetarian and vegan options, but right now I think our best dish is the chicken potpie. We make it with snow peas, carrots, celery, sweet potatoes, and white-wine-roasted chicken breast, baked in a sage-sherry dressing with a puff pastry topping. It's especially comforting now that the weather's taken a turn for the worse—again.

Would you describe yourself as a mom-and-pop restaurant?

Absolutely. We share cooking duties, and during the day Mike waits tables while I work behind the bar. At night, we have a small waitstaff come in. But truly, we are mom-and-pop. Our menu features my mom's brisket and Mike's mother's hominy. My dad thinks he's responsible for the chicken pâté, and we give him that.