Ever since the exit of L&M’s Kitchen and Salumeria back in 2008, Oxonians have been clamoring for an authentic Italian restaurant where they can gather to enjoy a great bottle of wine alongside fresh pastas and wood-fired pizzas topped with locally sourced ingredients.
Well, the wait is about to be over.
Oxford’s Emily Blount has been busy collaborating with Dan Latham, former owner of L&M’s, to plan the opening of her first restaurant, Saint Leo, a wood-fire Italian restaurant, in 2016. “I love to cook, and I bring a lot of front-of-house experience with me from working in restaurants in San Francisco and New York,” says Blount. “I had a vision of what I wanted to create in a restaurant and Dan’s food style and ability to develop systems is helping that vision come to life.”
Blount says she was excited when Latham agreed to collaborate with her on menu creation, recipes and training back-of-house staff. “Dan will help us get our systems in place to offer local, sustainable food in an accessible way that’s also consistent,” says Blount. “Although he lives in Atlanta, Dan will be present at all three of our restaurant preview pop-ups scheduled for September 25, October 17 and November 20, and will have an ongoing relationship with Saint Leo.”
While several aspects of the restaurant cannot be shared yet, such as its location and its head chef, Blount says she has an awesome team that she feels very positive about. The Saint Leo menu will focus on fresh salads, pasta, pizza and rotisserie chicken, along with rotating specials. “Our bar will feature seasonal cocktails and we’ll also have a pizza bar, where customers can watch our chefs use the Italian double Mario Acunto oven to bake pizzas and proteins side by side.”
Saint Leo’s mobile pizza oven unit, which will be on hand at the restaurant previews, is currently scheduled to handle catering and special events once the restaurant opens. “The mobile unit will definitely be put to use,” says Blount. “But for now we’re focusing on getting Saint Leo open.”
For a sneak peek of what’s to come at Saint Leo, register to attend one of the pop-up dinners in September, October or November at www.eatsaintleo.com. September and November dinners will be family-style, while the October preview will offer a mobile unit experience.
Liz Barrett Foster is an award-winning journalist who specializes in topics ranging from pizza to restaurants to business marketing. Author of the recently published Pizza: A Slice of American History, Liz’s first book was a direct result of eight years (and counting) on the editorial staff of the leading pizza industry publication, PMQ Pizza Magazine. Liz began the popular restaurant information site EatingOxford.com in 2009, and is now focused on a new venture, Oxford Flea (a local outdoor flea market), with her husband Benjy Foster. Liz can be reached at email@example.com.