Jean Nicoletti passed away recently one day before her 94th birthday. But she lived long enough to see her grandson Nick and his wife Julie open a restaurant where he features recipes he learned in her kitchen.

Nick and Julie Nicoletti opened Café Palermo at 250 LaMar Parkway, Suites 101 and 103.

Growing up in South St. Louis, Nick Nicoletti spent hours in his grandmother’s kitchen.

“She cooked and cooked and cooked,” Nicoletti said. “Her sauce took hours to cook.”

Nick spent 28 years as kitchen manager and head cook at Nicoletti’s in St. Louis where his uncle Michael Nicoletti opened the family restaurant using the family recipes. He would eventually have three Nicoletti’s restaurants. Julie also worked for the chain. Café Palermo is not associated with the family chain.

“We left there on good terms, but decided to strike out on our own,” Julie Nicoletti said.

In the completely renovated interior, Julie Nicoletti designed a setting of soft earth tones, grapes and wine. Antique glass windows separate two sections of the restaurant. A spacious patio is at one end.

Recipes include a wide selection of Grandmother Nicoletti’s marinara (red sauce), a secret recipe white sauce and butter and garlic sauce.

“We strive for an affordable restaurant,” Nick Nicoletti said. “We did a lot of research on pricing.”

Julie Nicoletti, who manages the front of the restaurant, said she and Nick want customers and employees to be happy to be there.

“To some people working is just a job,” Nicoletti said, “but we want employees who are doing what they want to be doing. That kind of good cheer resonates with customers.”

Pacific is a family town, said Nicoletti, who wants people to bring their entire family.

“Many people don’t order a full meal,” she said. “We welcome people who order appetizers and wine and sit and talk.”

Nicoletti said she’s unsure how wine would be viewed in the family restaurant, but is pleasantly surprised.

“People are ordering wine,” she said.

Nicoletti plans a series of wine and cheese tasting parties on the patio in the fall.

“We have some really good wines,” she said. “I think people would like that.”

The couple live in Union and have six children — Amanda, Jacqueline, Nicholas, Samantha, Jon and Nicole.

The restaurant is open Monday through Saturday during the summer months. In the fall they will open on Sundays.

For more information, call 636-257-3305 or 636-257-3307.