St. Louis is known for its rich history and its Italian food. Soon people will have a place to enjoy both. It's a place where you may be looking up, instead of looking at your plate.
At the corner of Lemp and Arsenal, across the street from Gus' Pretzels, something tasty and artistic is under wraps. Kerry McEvoy is one of the owners of Cafe Piazza.
"This is going to be the best restaurant in St. Louis, that's what we're hoping," said McEvoy.
While the walls were getting last minute touches, it's what was taking shape on the ceiling of Cafe Piazza that's such a secret. The artist is Paco Rosic.
"I want people to come in and say, 'Oh wow, let me think how the artist was thinking,'" said Rosic.
Born in Bosnia, Rosic's family fled to Germany during the country's civil war. He was just 12 when he started watching taggers express themselves with spray paint.
"I was like, 'How can people use a can to paint, just like these beautiful paintings?'" said Rosic. "That's why I start doing it, I was so amazed."
When the war ended, Rosic and his family settled in Waterloo, Iowa. The young artist soon took tagging to a whole new level.
"I'm using the technique to do renaissance style now, it's completely different," said Rosic.
Rosic used more than 2,000 cans of spray paint to create the masterpiece.
"My idea was to show the history of St. Louis," said Rosic.
It was an idea that took months of research and a vision sketched on the basement wall.
"We started with King Louis IX, then we go to Lewis and Clark right here," said Rosic. "It's tough to see, but I see it in my head."
Vito LaFata III owns and operates Vito's Italian Pizzaria and Restaurante in the Central West End. He'll be responsible for the italian favorites on the menu at Cafe Piazza.
"I had no idea where he was going with this, if it was going to be scenes of Sicily, or a big pizza slice on the roof, I had no idea but he focused in a such an amazing perspective," said LaFata.
It's Rosic's creative take on the people, places and things that make St. Louis so unforgettable.
"I work a little bit here on a piece, then I jump over here," said Rosic.
A process that may seem a bit unconventional, but for Rosic, not so much.
"I've walked by him a couple of times and he seems to be in some sort of weird trance," said LaFata. "I'm like, 'Paco are you OK?' You can tell his focus is like he mentioned, he's a in a zone."
That complete concentration allows him to spray paint in weeks, what would take months with a brush.
"I like to do fast, I can not do slow, sometimes I do brushwork and I just go insane," said Rosic. "I like the action I like jumping around, like boom, boom, boom."
He said it's like putting together a puzzle that's never quite done.
"The toughest part is you have to know when to stop and walk away," said Rosic.
Rosic is satisfied with a conversation piece that allows people to discover St. Louis in a whole new way.
"It's never seen before exactly, it's something completely different and unique," said Rosic.
Paco has finished the mural. You'll be able to check it out, along with pizza and all sorts of Italian favorites, when Cafe Piazza opens in late June.