Saint Leo, a simple and stylish restaurant serving artisanal wood-fired pizza, rotisserie chicken, seasonal salads, and other offerings, will open in Oxford, Mississippi, in early 2016. The eatery’s team is owned and headed up by Oxford local, Emily Blount.
Saint Leo’s menu will highlight the purity and simplicity of beautiful ingredients, locally sourced and thoughtfully prepared. A wood-burning, Acunto Mario oven imported from Italy is the focal point. Wood-fired pizzas from naturally leavened, from-scratch dough will be topped with housemade mozzarella and ricotta cheeses and the region’s freshest produce and meats. Salads will change often to showcase the best of the season, and most of the small plates and entrees will be finished in the wood-fire oven. Rotisserie chicken will round out the offerings for takeout or dine in. For a sweet finish, small batch ice cream complements other from-scratch desserts.
With the highest level of hospitality, Saint Leo will be sophisticated yet comfortable, a community-focused spot welcoming guests for lunch, dinner and takeout. The earthy and modern space will exude warmth from the traditional Acunto Mario oven. Guests can choose to sit at inviting booths or at the marble-topped chef’s counter and bar.
The drink menu will feature fresh, seasonal, craft cocktails and an eclectic wine list curated by a Napa Valley trained sommelier, in addition to local craft beers on tap and by the bottle.
An Oxford resident, Saint Leo’s Founder and Owner, Emily Blount, grew up just north of San Francisco and worked in restaurants from an early age. Her love of good food is strongly influenced by her California roots and her time working in New York City. During her 13 years in Manhattan, she gained production and management experience in a variety of settings, including working at legendary restaurants Raoul’s in SoHo and Scarpetta. She has a BFA from Emerson College in Boston and received her culinary education at Verace Pizza Neopolitana. Emily moved to Oxford in 2012 with her native Mississippian husband and their two boys.
Emily is collaborating with Dan Latham to open Saint Leo. Originally from Madison, Mississippi, Dan’s early culinary career included six years with Mario Batali’s restaurants Po and Studio del Gusto, plus time making salumi at Babbo in New York City. He then opened L&M’s Kitchen and Salumeria in Oxford, an Italian eatery specializing in house-cured meats and Italian wines. In 2009, he was nominated for a James Beard Foundation award for “Best Chef: Southeast.” He served as Culinary Director for Atlanta-headquartered, fast-casual burger restaurants Farm Burger and YEAH! Burger, and most recently, he has consulted for restaurants including Resurgens Hospitality Group (Holeman & Finch, Restaurant Eugene, H&F Bread) in Atlanta, Blackberry Farm in Walland, Tennessee, Jim N’ Nicks BBQ in Birmingham, MexiCue in New York City, and others. Dan lives in Atlanta with his wife and two children.