New York State of Mind
By giftshop | September 11, 2016 |
Diminutive and bustling, the enchanting new Saint Leo would fit just as easily in the New York City dining scene as Oxford, Mississippi. The sleek space on or just barely off the Square seats but 75, features superb and simplistic wood-fired pizzas, charcuterie and Italian cheeses with a kitchen open until midnight. Yet the menu is approachable with reverence to clean favors and finest ingredients sourced both near and far.
Think components like soft and buttery Sweet Grass Dairy cheese from Thomasville, Georgia, and Vermont-made burrata, the hallmark flavor of Saint Leo, which essentially inspired Emily Blount, a New Yorker by way of Marin County, to open a restaurant. Served gently dressed as antipasti with garlic-rubbed grilled bread, burrata also plays an unforgettable starring role in the pizza offerings.
Nothing is out of focus at Saint Leo. The recipe for good taste is clear, from the impeccable black, white and natural wood decor to the bourbon, grapefruit and egg white-shaken cocktail topped with a few shakes of aromatic bitters. Brunch at Saint Leo delights—add an egg to a pizza—and lunch feels like a vacay from the ordinary.
Organic carrots, panzanella and chopped salads, bucatini and orecchiette, mix-and-match meat and cheese plates with pork belly and prosciutto—plates to share, flavors to be savored. If a power lunch ventures a little too far into the afternoon, order cups of robust Oregon-based Stumptown Coffee and extend the experience just a little more.
Launched in time for football season to host the influx of home-game weekend revelers, Saint Leo does not take reservations, but promises to keep the kitchen open even later to accommodate standing-room-only crowds.
Oh, the Oxford restaurant scene has come a long way, baby. The birth of Saint Leo single handedly feels like its revival. – Melissa Townsend
Saint Leo, 1101 Jackson Avenue East, Oxford
DELTA MAGAZINE SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2016
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