The much-anticipated restaurant Saint Leo is now open in Oxford, Mississippi, just off the town’s central square at 1101 Jackson Ave East. Sophisticated, simple, and comfortable, Saint Leo is a walk-in-only, community-focused spot welcoming guests for lunch, weekend brunch, dinner, and takeout. The restaurant is owned and headed up by Oxford local, Emily Blount.

Served with the highest level of hospitality, Saint Leo’s dishes highlight the purity and simplicity of beautiful ingredients, locally sourced and thoughtfully prepared. The lunch and dinner menu features wood-fired pizzas made with from-scratch dough, topped with house-made mozzarella and ricotta cheeses and the region’s freshest produce and meats. Other offerings include salads and pastas that showcase the best of the season, antipasti, house-made bread, cheeses, and charcuterie, and more. Small-batch ice cream complements other house-made desserts, and the drink list offers fresh, seasonal, craft cocktails, local craft beers, and an eclectic wine list. The restaurant is also open for weekend brunch, with favorites like the breakfast pizza with roasted pork jowl and egg; avocado toast with two sunny-side-up eggs, radish greens, and chili paste; and spaghetti carbonara.

In addition to hosting private events, the restaurant offers off-site catering served from Northern Mississippi’s only mobile, wood-fired pizza oven.

Saint Leo’s intimate, 1,100-square-foot dining room seats 72 guests. The restaurant is lined with expansive windows along exposed brick walls, with a front entrance that opens into a bar area. Illuminated by brass sconces and bartop lamps, the earthy and modern space exudes warmth from a wood-burning, Pavesi oven, imported from Italy. Guests can choose to sit at inviting and richly hued leather banquets or at the marble counter.

An Oxford resident, Saint Leo’s founder and owner, 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 time in New York City. During 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 attended 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 collaborated 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 and 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 has consulted for restaurants around the nation. Dan lives in Atlanta with his wife and two children.

Industry News, NextGen Casual