First Look: Katie's Pizza & Pasta Osteria at Ballpark Village in downtown St. Louis
Katie’s Pizza & Pasta Osteria’s long-awaited Ballpark Village location opens today, Monday, May 22, at 751 Clark Ave. in downtown St. Louis. Covering 10,000 square feet and seating around 390 guests inside and on the patio, this third location of Katie’s is the restaurant’s largest, most ambitious project to date.
Before getting into the many impressive details that have been woven into this restaurant, it’s worth noting how rare it is to see a restaurant of this scale open in 2023. There’s so much to take in, from an open kitchen at the back of the space, to a deli counter, pasta station, bar, private dining room and countless pieces of art throughout. The space is cleverly partitioned, with dining areas at the front and rear of the restaurant separated by a large central bar and a row of booths. The result is a space that retains a degree of intimacy without compromising its ambition.
This new Katie’s location reflects elements of the design of the existing Rock Hill and Town & Country restaurants, while taking things up a notch. The business is already a family affair for co-owners Katie and Ted Collier, but this location’s interior is replete with details that are deeply personal.
The walls are decorated with multiple paintings by Belinda Lee, Collier’s mother, as well as by Ted Collier. Dotted throughout, you’ll see artifacts such as ceramics and a variety of architectural sculptures including lions and artichokes. These pieces lend an apt Roman air to the restaurant, but they’re not just here for decoration: Collier inherited these from her late father, Tom, with whom she co-founded her first restaurant, Katie’s Pizzeria, in 2008. A lion inlaid on the reception counter pays tribute to Tom, as well as to fellow co-founder – and fellow Leo – Rolando Llerena. Inlaid on the floor of the entrance lobby is a terrazzo crest that incorporates symbols including a peace sign formed by wheat, artichokes and other details. “We’re all hippies, so we wanted to do a very symbolic crest,” Katie Collier said. The cardinal on the crest is an obvious nod to the restaurant’s location – Busch Stadium is a few feet from the entrance – but it also honors Llerena. “Rolando was a professional baseball player in Cuba who loved the Cardinals,” Collier said.
On the left side of the restaurant, the open pasta station gives guests the opportunity to see staff hard at work shaping and cutting pasta shapes, filling and folding sweetcorn cappelletti, crespone tortellini and more. “We’ve always made our own pasta, but we haven’t had the space in our restaurants to show you that we’re making them,” Collier said. This is now the hub where pasta for all three Katie’s locations is made. “I wanted there to be enough pasta to make that you could come in anytime and watch pasta being made,” she said. In preparation for this launch, executive chef Jake Sanderson, who has been with Katie’s for a decade, spent a month in Bologna last summer bolstering his pasta skills under the tutelage of Alessandra Spisni of renowned cookery school La Vecchia Scuola Bolognese.
The restaurant’s dine-in service is supplemented by a number of offerings that are designed for customers who are on the go (perhaps heading to a baseball game). At a deli counter right by the entrance lobby, customers will be able to order personal pizzas or have a pizza box filled with charcuterie and cheese. “You can pick three to five items, fill it up with meat, cheese or spread, then we give you some pizza bread and you can take it into the stadium or out to the quad,” Collier said. No messing with weights, you just pay a flat price, choose your items and go. The deli will also offer espresso drinks made with Goshen coffee, as well as a range of canned cocktails. For those who just want something to take home, there’s a freezer stocked with Katie’s growing line of frozen pizzas, pastas and sauces.
Regulars at the other Katie’s locations will find all their favorite menu items here, but for the Ballpark Village location, Collier wanted to expand on the menu by adding a range of grilled items. The secondi section of the menu features a number of show-stopping dishes, many of which impress not only in presentation but also in portion size. The Parmigiana di pollo (chicken Parmesan) is comfort food writ large, stuffed with fontina and prosciutto, and served with a salad of plump tomatoes and arugula. You could comfortably share the costata alla Fiorentina – a mouthwatering 24-ounce bone-in ribeye with fennel pollen, rosemary, arugula, Parmigiano Reggiano, aged balsamic and delicious, crispy fingerling potatoes, with a Taleggio fondue on the side for dipping.
Seafood is also a focus here, with the luscious lobster thermidor (aragosta al fumetto bianco) a standout. Here, it’s served in a creamy sauce made with Contratto bianco vermouth, and topped with salmon caviar, dill and tarragon. Other dishes from the sea include a cured and beautifully seared Ora King salmon served atop a summer vegetable and chickpea stew, fried branzino and oysters topped with sturgeon caviar and served with Calabrian Firelli sauce. The menu also includes an Italian-accented brunch selection, served daily from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and including a speck and egg panino, frittatas, lemon ricotta pancakes and fig and pancetta French toast.
At the bar, longtime head bartender Hayley AuBuchon makes cocktails that enhance the Mediterranean vibes. The Italian and Famous is perfect for a summer lunch or an evening drink on the patio, but there’s something to suit any preference. There are eight white wines by the glass and seven reds, as well as rosés and sparkling wines by the glass, and a more extensive selection of wines by the bottle. AuBuchon said this location has also let her offer a more expansive range of amaro than other Katie’s locations, and that’s never a bad thing in our books.
Katie’s Pizza and Pasta Osteria at Ballpark Village is open daily from 10 a.m to 10 p.m. Reservations are available on Resy.
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