Recent openings in Henderson have been filling a void for residents looking for upscale, non-chain dining close to home. While Chef’s Roma Kitchen is not a new opening, with the arrival of a new chef/owner and a décor facelift, there’s a new energy that has transformed the environment.
Chef Ricardo Romo has spent several years in the industry working at renowned restaurants on the Strip such as Michael Mina’s Seablue, STK, Mastro’s Ocean Club, and Beer Park; and off the Strip at Whist Stove & Spirits, Due & Proper, and Itsy Bitsy Ramen & Whiskey. After decades working for others, Chef came to the realization that it was time to open his own restaurant.
After Chef’s Roma Kitchen chef/owner Piero Broglia passed away last year, Romo stepped up to the plate and with two other partners purchased the restaurant in December. He coincidentally has a similar sounding name, and chose to keep the restaurant’s name the same, but several upgrades were made during the transition to bring more elegant touches. They included a new paint job, adding chandeliers, new curtains, fresh flowers, full-length tablecloths, live olive and lemon trees, and obtaining a full liquor license permitting an expansion of the beverage offerings.
As for the menu revisions, Chef Romo says, “We kept the base, but elaborated on it, seasoned it up, and added some new menu items like steaks, pork chop, shrimp scampi, caprese, chicken piccata, and seabass. We also changed up the chicken marsala and crostini.”
The antipasti and insalata sections of the menu are so inviting you couldn’t be blamed for making them your meal. Chef’s new Shrimp Scampi contains a sauce that brought a major wow factor for me. The Grilled Vegetable Salad is unusual (in a good way), as it contains very little lettuce, but instead is loaded with warm broccoli, artichoke, asparagus, cherry tomato, and red pepper. The Roasted Red Peppers & Burrata is a simple, yet delicious mix of ingredients dressed with olive oil and balsamic reduction.
Pastas are the bulk of the menu, with the likes of Gnocchi with cream sauce, truffles, and mushroom; Tortellini with prosciutto, peas, cremini, and pink cream sauce; and Pappardelle Alfredo with fresh cream, butter, and parmigiana.
Main courses are a mix of proteins including NY Steak, Ribeye, Pork Chop, Branzino, Seabass, and Veal Parmigiana. Chicken presentations shine with Chicken Marsala with marsala wine and mushrooms and Chicken Piccata with white wine and capers. Other than the steaks, veal, and fish, most are priced between $22-$26.
An interesting plus is having the opportunity to spice up your own creations with the option to purchase a quart of the thick and meaty Bolognese ($15) or the smooth and hearty Pomodoro ($10) sauces or meatballs ($3 each) to take home.
The dessert menu includes some Italian favorites like Tiramisu and Cheesecake but also some locally made gelato in flavors of Vanilla, Chocolate, and Pistachio and Mango/Raspberry sorbet.
With the full liquor license comes a range of cocktails now being offered, like six Martinis including Espresso with vodka, Kahlua, Baileys, and espresso; and specialty cocktails such as Cadillac Margarita with tequila, Triple Sec, and lime. There is also a small selection of beer, an upscale bourbon selection with my new favorite: Whistle Pig Six-year Rye, and nearly 50 wines mainly from California and Italy. Show up on Wednesday and you can get ½ off select wines and if you want to bring your own wine on Tuesdays there’s no corkage fee.
Don’t forget about Sunday brunch, which offers some of the same menu items like the Shrimp Scampi, Calamari, Caprese, and Avocado & Bacon Salad. There’s also typical brunch fare elevated with Chef Romo’s creative touches, like French Toast with orange creamsicle cream and bourbon maple syrup, Eggs Bennie with prosciutto and pesto pink sauce and Cacio e Pepe with bacon and egg.
Chef Romo’s New Experience
This new transition is a welcome addition to the Henderson McDonald Highlands area and one of only a few Italian options you’ll find outside of the locals casinos located miles away. Roma’s Chef Roma’s Kitchen is at 1550 W. Horizon Ridge Pkwy. between Valley Verde and Arroyo Grande. Hours are Monday through Thursday 4-9 p.m., Friday and Saturday 4-9:30 p.m. and Sunday 11:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m.
For more info, visit chefsromakitchen.com and follow on Instagram @chefromakitchen.