La Strega

La Strega
A Charmed Beginning

It’s rare that a new restaurant is polished from opening day. So much can go wrong, and usually does, requiring the eager, early foodie adopter to skeptically ponder if the subpar service or inability to keep the food consistent is a function of “being new” or a show of things to come.  It doesn’t matter if the chef has honed her skills under some of the best mentors in the culinary arena–people like Scott Conant, Michael Mina or Shawn McClain. Or that a General Manager that knows the restaurant game like the back of his hand has joined the force to create a well-oiled machine where chaos typically reigns. It is the restaurant business, after all, and it’s often not very pretty.  But a charmed beginning is exactly what’s taken place at La Strega, located at 3555 So. Town Center Dr. It’s exciting and new without the excuses.


The name of the restaurant could be part of the magic, La Strega translates to “witch” in Italian, but more likely it’s the talents of Executive Chef Partner Gina Marinelli that fuels La Strega’s success. Creating a menu that reflects her experiences working for celebrity restaurateurs, tempered with family roots and extensive travel, she serves up contemporary Italian cuisine that’s simple, yet prepared with sophisticated ingredients.  Antipasti roams from greens to ocean, butcher and farm. Favorites include Steak Tartare Bruschetta with almond, basil, tomato pesto and ricotta salata; a selection of fresh vegetables served with whipped chickpeas titled the “Witch’s Garden”; and creamy Burrata cheese paired with fresh and vibrant green tomato and garlic salsa, accompanied by house-made bread. On the lighter-ish side, they also have pizza, from traditional Margherita and Quattro Formaggi, served calzone style with sage and honey, to the fan favorite Spicy Pig, made with mildly hot soppressata, smoked mozzarella, Calabrian chilis and chives. 

Main dishes include pasta as well as fish, steak and chicken offerings. It’s a small, yet chef-inspired selection with nothing ordinary on the plate. Dishes might include dandelion pesto, braised beef cheeks, wild boar, a spicy, spreadable salumi known as ‘nduja’, whole stuffed fish, and Verlasso salmon–an open ocean, sustainable fish that’s rich, fatty and flavorful. All are thoughtfully prepared in the open view kitchen, and beautifully presented. Accompany your meal with craft cocktails (the Diana made with vodka, lemon, aperol, fever tree tonic and rose was a personal fave), or wine procured from an impressive selection chosen by sommelier Stephanie Torres, formerly of Giada’s at the Cromwell. Finish with signature desserts, including a Bay Leaf Panna Cotta or the Bomba–a doughnut filled with coconut cream filling and dusted with lime sugar. Order it early, as when they’re gone, they’re gone.

Despite what some might consider decadent food, the place is really meant to be casual, homey and unassuming, an aesthetic made successful due to bright and airy décor, lively music and atmosphere (ok, it can get a little loud), and casually dressed staff whose service is anything but lax. If there’s one thing apparent about the speedy success of La Strega, it’s that there’s no luck involved. It’s a charmed beginning that’s sure to weather the test of time. To make a reservation (you’ll need one), visit or call 702-722-2099.