An Impromptu Chat With Chef Keira Moritz Of Pacci Ristorante [AltoRex At The Palomar Hotel Atlanta Saves The Day]

My head is spinning.  Yesterday, I visited Verde Taqueria for lunch and the soft opening of  Five Seasons Brewing Company for dinner.  Both events were forgettable to say the least.  While Verde was disappointing, Five Seasons was infuriating.  Needless to say, I planned on using those experiences as the basis for my next two posts.  However, you never know what you’re gonna get out of an evening with Adam [the guest blogger dude].  Thus, I find myself writing a post that was anything but planned.

After serving time over at Five Seasons, Adam and I left the crew and headed back to our neck of the woods.  As it turns out, Adam spent last weekend at the Palomar with his lovely wife.  He enjoyed his meal at Pacci Ristorante and his time at AltoRex, the Palomar’s outdoor bar.  Given the hotel’s proximity to Adam’s domicile, his previous experience there, and the beautiful weather, we elected to stop in for a few drinks over at AltoRex.

After a handful of libations and a few cringes (the Hawks were getting a beat down), my sad culinary day took a sharp u-turn.  Throughout the evening, I noticed a young woman darting about the bar.  Dressed in a chef’s jacket and a pair of black pants, the woman was clearly up to something.  Adam informed me that she was the Executive Chef of Pacci, the hotel’s flagship restaurant.  And here’s where it got interesting! [more after the jump]

Soon thereafter, the chef appeared behind the bar.  Without warning, she began saying hello to the various patrons.  Eventually, she settled in for a little chat with our little group, which had grown to a party of four.  I can say with absolute certainty that the conversation that followed was a genuine representation of what makes Keira tick.  She had no idea that the conversation that took place would end up in cyberspace or that any member of our clique knew the first thing about food.  As you may have guessed, the conversation took on a life of its own.   By the end, we had a nice little background on the woman in front of us, a good idea of what she is all about, and where she hopes to take Pacci.  Yeah we talked about some other stuff too … but this is a food blog after all.

The balls on Adam!  “How old are you?” … a few interludes notwithstanding, Moritz actually told him.  Though I’m not going to out her here, I will tell you that she hasn’t yet seen her 30th birthday.  Adam actually clarified his position.  “I’m just very curious, you carry yourself with such poise.”   True dat!  Moritz displays the polish of a woman well beyond her years.  She is approachable, friendly, well-spoken, and grub educated.

Moritz is apparently a Georgia belle.  Born and raised here in the deep South, and accompanied by a distinct Southern accent, she gladly shared bits and pieces of her background.  After some training at Johnson & Wales University’s culinary program, Moritz took a position at Denver’s Panzano [warning – idiot web designers blare music].  With a good amount of Italian inspiration in her back pocket, Moritz then moved to the culinary mecca of San Francisco.  In San Fran, she took over as head chef at the well known Puccini & Pinetti [ah… silence is golden].  That pretty much brings us up to date.

With Moritz now entrenched her in the dirty,  I’m intrigued to see what her take on Italian cuisine looks like.  While she is from Jaw-jah, Ms. Moritz is an ATL newbie.  She’s still learning her way around the city and still familiarizing herself with the local culinary scene.  All the while, she finds her self in the very public role of Executive Chef of a big budget hotel.

Amongst the little tidbits she shared: Moritz hopes to add house-cured meats.  She has every understanding of what kind of undertaking that would be.  Thus, the restaurant will learn to walk before they run.  Also, now that she has a vested interest in the local dining scene, she wants to get out and sample what’s around.  But there’s more … an on premise herb garden, a few out door dinning tricks, and a handful of neat little concepts brew underneath.

While this may seem like lip-service, I see take it as a true movement.  The woman has already busted two Imperia’s making in house pasta. [Luckily, some friendly neighbors are letting her use their Imperia to pump out her pasta.]

Ladies and gents, we have a winner.  I was damn near floored by this chat … and happily so.  Now home, I just checked out Pacci’s website and am relieved to see that my memory is in tact.  Hey … you never know what a few drinks may do to me :-).

So the night ended on a high and that’s what prompted this post.  I’ll get to Verde and Five Seasons in just a bit … so stay tuned.  Meanwhile, I have every intention of sampling some of Moritz’ creations ASAP.  In fact, I’ve already made my reservations … I’d say it’s about time that you do the same!

Post script: If you haven’t figured it out – I got a few drinks underneath my belt … please excuse any typos!!!!

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  1. Pingback: Around The Corner: Opening Night At Abattoir Turns Phallic And A Meal At Pacci Ristorante | Atlanta Restaurant Reviews | Atlanta Food Blogs | Dining in Atlanta

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