A decade after the beloved King Louie's closed its doors for good, Matt McGuire has opened Louie in the DeMun neighborhood of Clayton.
But Louie is hardly a revival of the shuttered St. Louis institution; rather, McGuire, who was previously director of service for Gerard Craft’s Niche Food Group, envisions the restaurant as an approachable neighborhood spot. He says he's had his eye on the DeMun neighborhood for a while, and once the venerable Jimmy's on the Park closed in early 2016, he jumped at the chance. The large Jimmy's space was subdivided, with Louie occupying about 2,700 square feet, or roughly half the space.
Upon entering the restaurant, the first thing guests will likely notice is the dramatic large-format floral wallpaper from Dutch artist Ellie Cashman; it runs half the length of the long, narrow space. A long bar seats 21, capping off with a few seats positioned squarely in front of the white wood-burning oven. Across from the bar, a collection of autographed plates and platters decorate the wall.
That wood-burning oven plays heavily into executive chef Sean Turner's Italian-inspired menu, which features around 20 items divided into starters, vegetables, pizza, pasta and larger entrées. Pizzas include a classic Margherita and marinara, as well as McGuire's personal favorite: broccolini with ricotta, lemon and chile. Freshly baked hearth bread is used to scoop up dollops of white-bean hummus, while broccolini is drizzled with Calabrian vinaigrette, and a pork chop is garnished with crispy shishitos and chermoula, a pungent herb sauce. Don't miss the butternut squash agnolotti with brown butter, sage and walnuts; or the indulgent Roman gnocco, which features pork ragu baked with Béchamel and pecorino on top.
McGuire is a self-described wine aficionado, so the list is lengthy and varied. A handful of largely Italian white, red, rosé and sparkling wines are available by the glass, with many more by the bottle. Cocktails are, of course, Italian-inspired, with apéritifs and digestifs playing heavily into the short but sweet list. Most are tried-and-true classics, like the Manhattan (served here with amaro) or two spins on the Old Fashioned. Bar manager Henry Brown points to the Negroni Sbagliato as the most nontraditional offering – it subs out the usual gin for Champagne.
With McGuire's background at some of St. Louis' best restaurants – including Monarch, Brasserie and Central Table Food Hall – it's easy to see why Louie was one of the most anticipated openings of the year. And judging by the restaurant's first few weeks of service, it's clear St. Louis was ready for a return – in any form – of King Louie.
Louie is open Monday through Thursday from 5 to 10pm and Friday through Saturday from 5 to 11pm. Look for lunch hours to be added in the near future.
Louie, 706 DeMun Ave., Clayton, Missouri, 314.300.8188, louiedemun.com