Sunlight fills the soon-to-be home of Vicia, the highly anticipated restaurant from Michael and Tara Gallina (formerly of James Beard Award-winning restaurant Blue Hill at Stone Barns in New York).

The 2,500-square-foot space, which is located in the Cortex Innovation Community on the corner of Duncan and Boyle, features two walls of windows and an outdoor seating area overlooking a pathway and small lawn. It reflects the naturalness the Gallinas have curated for Vicia's cuisine.

A sneak peek held today offered a menu of tomato tartine (topped with onion flowers) and summer squash and zucchini tartine (all on ciabatta), chilled corn soup with chorizo and sourdough breadcrumbs, tomato and melon gazpacho, a grain salad, and a summer fruit and vegetable salad with marinated tomatoes, peaches, plums and melons. Diners can get a taste of the menu for lunch tomorrow, Thu., Sept. 8 at Venture Cafe inside Cortex. The Gallinas will be serving the tomato tartine, chilled corn soup and grain salad from 11:30am until they sell out. 

"[We want to focus on] really fresh, nutritious, kind of power food," Michael says. He adds the rotating lunch menu will focus on whole grains, soups both chilled and hot, fresh vegetable and fruit salads and more.

Vicia's quick-service model for lunch will be countered with a more elevated, but still comfortable, full-service dining experience for dinner. Tara says Vicia hopes to be an after-work stop for a drink or snack and also a space for celebration.

"That's a lot of boxes to check, but we're really trying to innovate our experience and our menu," she says.

The restaurant, designed by Sasha Malinich of S. Aleksandr Malinich, will feature an open dining area, antique oak bar, an alcove for intimate parties, covered outdoor dining and tabletops designed by Goebel & Co. Furniture. Malinich says Vicia will have a colorless palette in favor of natural materials and textures.

This all means busy days ahead for the Gallinas, who moved to St. Louis (Michael's hometown) from New York last fall. This June, they announced plans for Vicia (the name refers to the Latin genus for one of the most common cover crops grown in Missouri, vetch). Before that, they hosted pop-up dinners under the name Rooster and the Hen.

"We moved here not just to settle [into] a better life, but we really wanted to create a very incredible restaurant with that same intensity we had in New York," Michael says, adding that Vicia won't necessarily be labeled "fine dining."

"But when we say we don't want to be fine dining, that doesn't mean we won't strive for excellence every single day and create something extraordinary in St. Louis," he says. "We want it to be an experience that everybody can be a part of."

Vicia plans to open later this fall.

Editor's Note: This story was updated to include details about the Gallinas pop-up lunch at Venture Cafe.

Vicia, 4260 Forest Park Ave., Central West End, St. Louis, Missouri,

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