Johno Morisano and Mashama Bailey for the Grey Restaurant in Savannah, GA. // Photo by Adam Kuehl

Interviews

An Insider’s Food Guide to Savannah, According to the Team Behind the Grey

By

The Grey Restaurant

Southern · $$

Savannah Historic District

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Mashama Bailey and Johno Morisano are the partners behind The Grey in Savannah, one of the country’s most important dining destinations since it opened in 2014, a restaurant built into a formerly segregated 1938 Greyhound bus terminal.

This year, they released a co-written culinary memoir — “Black, White and The Grey” — wherein they explore their own unlikely relationship and how they built a restaurant that would inspire conversations, especially those around race, gender, and class, further cementing their status as leading voices in the American restaurant industry.

But, of course, they are very much rooted in Savannah and its restaurant scene. So, as travel season looms, we asked them for their insider food tips to their city.

Resy: When I’m in town, where should I get breakfast?

JOM: My breakfast mostly consists of coffee, so I usually hit the window at Collins Quarter on my way to The Grey. But they have a killer brunch/breakfast too.

What’s a great place for a takeout lunch?

JOM: I really love the sandwiches at Black Rabbit.

I’ve got a Resy for dinner at The Grey, of course. Any summer highlights on the either four- or six-course menu right now? And what should I drink?

JOM & MB: The menu is so seasonal that it is constantly moving around. The crab Louie with comeback sauce is pretty spot on and might hang around for the summer. To drink, MB’s Negroni, named after Mashama, is a play on the classic made with local loquats.

The Grey opened in 2015 to critical acclaim. Photo by Chia Chong

If I can’t get a dinnertime Resy at the Grey, what’s the move to get in?

JOM & MB: Gate 2 Bar is the move — it is for walk-ins only but get your name on the list early as it can run a long wait, especially on the weekends.

Had a great dinner. Where do I go for a nightcap?

JOM & MB: Alley Cat for chic, Savoy Society for where the locals drink in style and Pinkie Masters if dive bars make you happy. Pro tip: you can bring your dogs. (We do!)

Johno Morisano and Mashama Bailey for the Grey Restaurant in Savannah. Photo by Adam Kuehl

If I’m looking for a classic Georgia meal, where should I go? 

MB: Mrs. Wilkes Dining Room. The atmosphere can’t be beat.

JOM: Cotton & Rye is the joint. Zach, chef and owner, elevates comfort food just enough but it is unmistakably of the region. Go with fried chicken thighs, shrimp & grits and the house made candy bars.

Where can I get some great summer produce in Savannah?

MB: It gets so hot in Savannah in the summer so it is definitely a tough growing season but the Forsyth Farmers Market is where you can go to find all the good stuff.

Is there a new restaurant or bar that should be on people’s radar?

JOM & MB: Common Thread.

What’s a dish (or drink) in Savannah that I can’t get anywhere else?

JOM & MB: Chatham Artillery Punch is the national cocktail of Savannah – and it really packs a punch.

What are the must-order summer dishes in Savannah?

JOM & MB: The Market Pizza at Pizzeria Vittoria. Kyle is using local vegetables in delicious and inventive ways.

It’s a special occasion. Your restaurant aside, what’s your favorite date night/celebratory spot in Savannah?

JOM: Elizabeth on 37th.

What’s your advice when it comes to picking restaurants while traveling?

JOM: Oh, this might be controversial, but I go to the review sites and look for the negative reviews. If the restaurant gets knocked around for small portion sizes and high prices, that’s the place I key on because it is likely the chef cares about ingredients, proportions, and technique. Unless it really is a tourist trap trying to take advantage, this usually pans out to be true.

Any advice on where to stay?

JOM & MB: Savannah has a bunch of quaint inns. When friends from out of town visit, they stay at Hamilton-Turner, which is run by great people. For hotels, the Perry Lane is cool as hell and has a great location – not too in the middle of things but a short walk to all that you want to do.

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