• 66°

Saint Leo restaurant to open in Oxford

Special to the EAGLE

Saint Leo, a simple and stylish restaurant serving artisanal wood-fired pizza, rotisserie chicken, seasonal salads and other offerings, will open in Oxford in early 2016.

The eatery’s team is owned and headed up by Oxford local Emily Blount.

Saint Leo will host three preview pop-ups on Sept. 25, Oct. 17 and Nov. 20. The September and November dinners will be at the Powerhouse Community Arts Center and Saint Leo will donate a percentage of the proceeds to the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council. The October pop-up will be at the Ole Miss Motel, in conjunction with the One Night Stand Motel Art Show.

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.

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 earned a BFA from Emerson College in Boston and received her culinary education at Verace Pizza Neopolitana. She moved to Oxford in 2012 with her native Mississippian husband and their two boys.

She is collaborating with Dan Latham to open Saint Leo. Originally from Madison, Latham’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.