Everything old is new again. In Savannah, historic Washington Square is one of many original oak-filled, Spanish moss-draped squares.
Pacci Italian Kitchen + Bar opened this week as one of our newest additions to our old history of fine dining based on local foods. Pacci is located inside The Brice, a distinctly Savannah-style yet brand-new Kimpton Hotel re-created in the historic Mulberry Inn.
Canyon Ranch Institute’s Jan McIntire and Ruth White, general manager of Pacci, recently talked about how Pacci is supporting the Canyon Ranch Institute Savannah Partnership (CRISP) and how that partnership – including Connect Savannah and civic leaders Charles H. and Rosalie Morris – reflects Savannah’s rich cultural history:
Jan: Ruth, you’re new to Savannah, so how did you so quickly see the connections among The Brice, Pacci, Trustees’ Garden, CRISP, and a healthier Savannah?
Ruth: I’m new to Savannah, but not to the South. I grew up just a few hours up the road in South Carolina, so Savannah feels like home. For a number of years, I lived and worked away from home to build my career. Most recently, I was in San Francisco.
That’s where I heard about the plans for The Brice and its location in the heart of historic Savannah. The image of what this hotel and restaurant could be and the idea of returning home really got my attention. I
In February I was invited to attend a kick-off luncheon for CRISP at the Charles H. Morris Center at Trustees’ Garden. We can see the Morris Center from the back courtyard of the hotel, so we’re close neighbors. During the luncheon, I first heard Charles and Ros talk about their shared vision for improving the health of everyone in Savannah. They really got my attention, and I knew Kimpton, The Brice – and I – just had to get involved.
Jan: Getting involved is sometimes easier said than done, especially if you’re faced with developing, staffing, and opening a new restaurant. We know that a lot of people in Savannah like what we’re dong but haven’t raised their hands to get actively involved like you have.
Ruth: I was already familiar with how Kimpton Hotel makes a strong commitment to the communities where they’re located. I was looking for ways that Pacci could be a newcomer in Savannah’s restaurant world that would both honor the past and say something new to the city about food and health.
Jan: Working with Chef Roberto Leoci is a great way to do that. I think many Savannah residents and visitors have eaten at Leoci’s restaurant. Now, he’s bringing his philosophy of using locally grown, fresh, and seasonal ingredients to the Pacci kitchen.
Ruth: Exactly. And when I told him about CRISP and the CRI Healthy Garden that was planned for Trustees’ Garden, he “got it” immediately. Garden-to-table eating is Roberto’s idea of heaven. It’s a real return to the “old” ways of real food, enjoying the process of developing your family’s menu based on what foods are growing in the garden – literally cooking according to the season.
Roberto has created what we call the Green Slayer Smoothie, with kale, spinach, peach, pear, celery and lemon. And, our Stay Strong smoothie includes spinach, apple, pear, cucumber and ginger. Those smoothies will be at the “Kitchen Counter” part of Pacci along with three fresh juices – Being Green, Beets Me, and Locals Only.
I’m happy to announce that Pacci is donating $1 for every smoothie or juice we sell to the CRI Healthy Garden program. That starts right away – with our grand opening this week.
Jan: Chef Leoci would fit right in with the culinary team approach at Canyon Ranch Institute. Our central idea is to put healthy ingredients together to make great-tasting food that reflects the rich cultural history of food. That approach is part of the Canyon Ranch Institute Life Enhancement Program, which is now in Savannah thanks to Charles H. and Rosalie Morris and is currently being provided by an integrative health team from the Curtis V. Cooper Primary Care Center just up the road from Pacci and Trustees’ Garden.
Ruth: I love following the progress of what Canyon Ranch Institute, Connect Savannah, the Morrises and the Curtis V. Cooper center are doing here in Savannah. Savannah is a place where we really value personal relationships and like to share what we’re doing. That’s actually how I came up with another signature feature of what Pacci is doing with and for CRISP. I learned that heirloom eggplant is being planted in the CRI Healthy Garden. Roberto can’t wait for it to be available. He plans to create a special dish for the Pacci menu that will feature that eggplant. Every time the dish is ordered, we’ll donate the proceeds to CRISP as another way of making Savannah’s future healthier
Jan: I think many people in Savannah will be interested in attending the healthy cooking demonstration by Chef Leoci at the Charles H. Morris Center. Watching Chef at work and then enjoying a wonderful meal is my idea of fun and will be a valuable fundraising event for CRISP. We’ll announce the date in the near future in this section of Connect.
Ruth: The Pacci staff, all of us at The Brice, and I want to be truly hands-on with the CRI Healthy Garden and CRISP. We’ll be garden volunteers, and I hope other Savannah businesses and individuals will join us. The Senior Saints of the Second African Baptist Church are already involved along with their Pastor C. MeGill Brown who also serves on the Core Team of the CRI Life Enhancement Program here.
Jan: As CRI’s representative to Connect Savannah, I want to hear from readers who have ideas for building a healthy future for Savannah. Send ideas and comments to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You may even be featured in an upcoming article!