Thursday, August 24, 2017

Katie's Pizza & Pasta Osteria Is Now Open in Town & Country

Posted By on Thu, Aug 24, 2017 at 6:46 AM

click to enlarge Handmade pasta with tomatoes, fresh cheese and mint. - CHERYL BAEHR
  • Cheryl Baehr
  • Handmade pasta with tomatoes, fresh cheese and mint.

When Katie Lee-Collier thinks back on opening day at her first restaurant, Katie's Pizza, she can't help but laugh at how far she has come.

"I had never run a kitchen, and the only place I'd worked on a line was the pantry," Lee-Collier recalls. "I remember I even had to figure out how to fold a pizza box."

Ten years later, Lee-Collier, together with her husband Ted Collier, again finds herself in the midst of a restaurant opening, only this time she is a seasoned veteran. On August 17, the pair opened the second location of their wildly popular Katie's Pizza & Pasta Osteria (14173 Clayton Road, Town & Country; 636-220-3238) in the heart of Town & Country, and it's already packing in the crowds.

In fact, Lee-Collier explains that this sort of demand was why she and Ted Collier knew they needed to expand.

"When Rock Hill opened, it was a success, but it's only a 75-seat restaurant so there were long waits," Lee-Collier explains. "We couldn't accommodate everyone and were always having to turn people away."

click to enlarge Katie's dining room bustles with energy. - CHERYL BAEHR
  • Cheryl Baehr
  • Katie's dining room bustles with energy.

But while she and Collier began thinking about a second location not long after they opened the Rock Hill spot, they had certain parameters. They wanted to be respectful of her father, who continued to operate the original Katie's Pizza in Clayton. (Lee-Collier helped her father found the place, but he was always its sole owner.)

"We didn't want to open within ten miles of him because we didn't want to affect his business, so that meant we couldn't open in the city," Lee-Collier explains. (Her father ultimately closed the Clayton spot earlier this year.) "We didn't want to open in Webster Groves or in Kirkwood because those were too close to Rock Hill, so we began exploring neighborhoods like Creve Coeur and Town & Country."

She and Ted Collier found the space for the new Katie's about a year-and-a-half ago, but they had to wait for the former tenant to finish out its lease. Finally, they were able to take possession of the restaurant a little over four months ago and renovated it in record speed.

The result of their efforts is a stunningly beautiful space that pulses with energy like an authentic Italian osteria. The dining rooms, divided by an open wooded wall filled with succulents, are light and airy, thoughtfully decorated with hints of copper, wooden tables and mismatched chairs. The most striking decor, however, are the colorful modern paintings by Ted Collier, who is also an artist, that decorate several of the walls.

click to enlarge Artwork by co-owner Ted Collier decorates the space. - CHERYL BAEHR
  • Cheryl Baehr
  • Artwork by co-owner Ted Collier decorates the space.
The open kitchen, dough room and bar bustle with activity as the staff works to assemble Katie's delectable handmade pastas and pizzas. Favorites include everything from the "Coppa" pizza with San Marzano tomatoes, cured ham, and arugula to the "Tomato Paccheri," a handcrafted pasta made with butter roasted cherry tomatoes, stracciatella cheese and fresh mint.

Opening a brand new restaurant would be enough to keep anyone busy, but Katie Lee-Collier and Ted Collier are not letting that stop them from launching yet another major project. Two months ago, the husband and wife team dove into the meal delivery market with their meal kit Vero Pizza and Pasta. They've been testing the kit locally for the past two months and will be launching it nationwide in the next few weeks. "If you look at what's out there, there aren't any pizza kits available," Lee-Collier explains. "Plus, most other kits are not specific. Ours is strictly Italian, pizza and pasta, and we will use really cool meats and cheeses that you just don't see out there."

With two restaurants and a meal kit concept occupying their time, Katie Lee-Collier and Ted Collier realize they cannot predict what will come next, though Lee-Collier admits that their ultimate goal is to reach as many people as possible — without compromising the brand.

"The goal is to have Katie's in other cities and fulfillment centers for the meal kit, but we have to do it in a way that doesn't compromise quality," Lee-Collier says. "We are looking at how you grow a brand and still maintain a culture, which is so important."

Katie's Pizza & Pasta Osteria is open Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Fridays from 11 a.m.-11 p.m., Saturdays from 10 a.m.-11 p.m. and Sundays from 10 a.m.-10 p.m.

Click through for more photos of Katie's Pizza & Pasta Osteria.

click to enlarge Wood-fired Neapolitan-style pizza. - CHERYL BAEHR
  • Cheryl Baehr
  • Wood-fired Neapolitan-style pizza.

click to enlarge The "Prawn Panino" with lemon aioli, watercress and fennel. - CHERYL BAEHR
  • Cheryl Baehr
  • The "Prawn Panino" with lemon aioli, watercress and fennel.

click to enlarge The bar at Katie's Pizza & Pasta Osteria. - CHERYL BAEHR
  • Cheryl Baehr
  • The bar at Katie's Pizza & Pasta Osteria.
click to enlarge The light-filled dining room. - CHERYL BAEHR
  • Cheryl Baehr
  • The light-filled dining room.
click to enlarge Fresh pasta in a rainbow of colors decorates the entrance. - CHERYL BAEHR
  • Cheryl Baehr
  • Fresh pasta in a rainbow of colors decorates the entrance.

click to enlarge Katie's Pizza & Pasta Osteria. - CHERYL BAEHR
  • Cheryl Baehr
  • Katie's Pizza & Pasta Osteria.
We are always hungry for tips and feedback. Email the author at cheryl.baehr@riverfronttimes.com.

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