Do you see what is happening here? If you close your eyes for a minute, you might miss some details, so it is pretty important to pay attention, especially if you have any interest in the growth of the Savannah area. A developer is going to give Broughton Street a desperately needed shot in the arm, Richard Kessler has a massive plan for the West end of River Street, another boutique hotel is about to break ground at MLK and River Street and the Cotton Sail Hotel is now open at River Street near the Barnard Street ramp. Not enough for you? Take a ride through Pooler once a month and you might just get lost because things are changing in that area so quickly. All of this growth means, quite obviously, that we are likely to see an increase in the number of restaurants on the scene. They are already popping up with work going on presently at Victory and Whitaker where The Florence will open in a month or so, Ele and Sean Tran have a noodle bar going in on Broughton at Bull (across the street from their already successful Chive Sea Bar) and they have plans for another at Bull and 38th street in the old Bank of America building. The growth is happening everywhere, but we don’t have to wait to enjoy it. The first one to the finish line is already on-line at Bay and Houston. The Brice Hotel is part of the Kimpton Hotel chain and if first glances are any indication, they’ve got a winner on their hands. Especially with Pacci Savannah, the cities newest Italian restaurant, turning out some great dishes.
As you know, or should know by now, I don’t do reviews. I’m not going to give you a play by play of what I ordered when I dined there last week. I won’t give you hits and misses. But I will tell you that the space is absolutely beautiful –both the restaurant and the hotel. If you walk through those doors on Houston Street expecting to see anything resembling The Mulberry Inn, forget it. The property got a much needed facelift and has become everything Savannah’s Historic District should be going forward.
I love the look of Pacci. Truth be told, once upon a time it was the look I wanted Eat It and Like It.com to have. Black and White. Or White and Black, depending on how you look at it, but I lost that creative battle when were just getting going, but that’s ok. I love what we currently have on line as well. Point being, I love the look at Pacci. I could spend hours in there and feel very comfortable. Executive Chef Roberto Leoci told me a while back what I could expect from the menu, but you don’t know really until you see it. Frankly, I saw some items on the menu at Pacci that I recognized from the already existing Leoci’s Trattoria. Doesn’t mean they were the same dish, not at all, but there was a similarity in some spots.
The biggest difference I found with Pacci vs. Leoci’s were the portions. Pacci’s are clearly smaller. That doesn’t mean they are small. Not at all, but they are smaller. Just like at Leoci’s you can get half portions and full portions of pasta, but the emphasis at Pacci appears to me to be on serving a simple plate of food and letting the flavors play together. Can you get yourself a big bowl of Roberto’s gnocchi and cream sauce? Nope. At least not on the menu we saw. Can you enjoy some gnocchi accented with pesto, cherry tomatoes and shaved parmesan? Yes indeed. Sound lighter already? It is. I asked Roberto the main difference between his two places and he said Leoci’s is ‘more butter, cream sauces. A neighborhood type place. Trattoria.” That is not Pacci. This new spot is more fine dining. In the approach to the food, not the service or atmosphere.
I find it amusing that in a city with limited options for Italian food, we will soon have three within a few miles of each other. I am well aware of the fact that not everyone loves Leoci’s Trattoria. I have had people tell me they had a bad experience and would never eat there again. Fair enough, but I’ve also heard that about some places that we’d all agree are some of the best restaurants in town. That will happen to every restaurant on the planet at one point or another. I just know that if you pop in to Leoci’s any time for dinner, Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday or Saturday, the place is always near capacity, so something good must be happening there. Pacci is very much worth your time and attention, that said, I know it won’t be for everyone, although if you like Italian food, it should be. As far as The Florence? I have now eaten at two of Hugh Acheson’s restaurants and have no reason to believe that The Florence won’t be every bit as spectacular. In fact, had a brief chat with Executive Chef Kyle Jacovino recently about what we can expect and the story he tells is very funny. Five months in Italy with rarely a day off, cooking, learning, cooking, learning, repeat. It’s a great story I will share as we get closer to their opening.
For now, embrace the change. For those of you who remember when Saturday mornings meant a trip to Bluffton to visit Target (and I do) these are fabulous times in our fair city. Just get out there and Eat It and Like It. Everywhere. As soon as possible. Let me know if you do.
See you on TV.