Stella Nonna, Italian for "star grandmother," was born out of a deep love for food and hospitality. Our restaurant is a tribute to our grandmothers, our Midwestern roots, our families and our deep abiding love for the Bay Area and all the food adventures it has to offer.
We grew up inspired by our grandmothers' love of food and sharing meals with friends and family. Raised with large kitchen gardens, we started experimenting in the kitchen before we learned how to drive and when we started our first restaurant gigs during high school, we were bit by the restaurant bug and have never looked back.
A restaurant is a family, and family is at the heart of everything we do - Sarah's husband, Armando Ruiz, is behind the restaurant's unique and colorful design and his photographs adorn the walls. Armando's love of spicy, flavorful foods from his native Mexico also inspires our menu. And our kid's menu was suggested, tested and approved by Sarah and Armando's daughter, Evelyn.
Sarah Nasgovitz, owner & general manager
Sarah is a Milwaukee native and proud of it. Her first job was scrambling eggs and making Belgian waffles for a tiny French café—so tiny the kitchen was in an old elevator shaft. She came to the Bay Area in 1990 to attend Mills College. After graduation, she enrolled in Le Cordon Bleu in London, and then earned her chops at several East Bay restaurants before she met Tim and together formed Stella Nonna in Berkeley.
Her favorite meal consists of the Midwestern staples of bread, butter and cheese—with a little Italian wine and pasta on the side.
Tim Carlon, owner & executive chef
"Anything pork" is not just a menu option, it’s a calling. Tim was born and raised in Red Wing, Minnesota, where his grandmother’s garden and kitchen was his second home. He spent many of his waking hours learning to harvest and cook, and would often trade his family’s famous sauerkraut with his neighbors for their chickens and eggs.
Tim started his culinary career as a busboy at the Red Wing Café. After attending hotel and culinary school in St. Paul, he did stints as a line and sous chef in Germany, Minnesota and Wisconsin before moving to Oakland in 1992.
Stella Nonna is not just his day job, it’s where Tim explores his passion for charcuterie and comfort food. In fact, all our bacon is house-cured based on Tim's recipe. He can often be found in the kitchen in his off hours curing meats and creating new recipes, or enjoying a picnic of charcuterie, cheese, and a fresh baguette on a beautiful Bay Area day.