Megan Romano takes her sweets to the neighborhood
Aureole’s former pastry chef serves up baked goods, breakfast and more at Chocolate & Spice
By Brock Radke
Wednesday, May 16, 2012 | 6:07 p.m.
This story first appeared in Sun sister publication Las Vegas Weekly.
Megan Romano has a new audience. After spending the last 12 years as the pastry chef at the acclaimed Aureole at Mandalay Bay, she opened Chocolate & Spice, a bakery and cafe on West Sahara, just last week. Moving from the Strip to the suburbs seems like a big change, but she’s got a few secret weapons.
Three, to be exact, ages 10, 8 and 4.
“If you’re making something new and you want a true critic’s opinion, not a candy-coated version, give it to your 4-year-old kid,” Romano says. “They’re honest. They’ll give you the real deal.”
It’s not as if Romano has anything to prove when it comes to satisfying anyone’s sweet tooth. She’s not only a restaurant veteran; she’s been selling signature treats—like chocolate-dipped candied oranges and chocolate chip cookies with a touch of tangerine zest—in several local cafes for years and published her first cookbook, It’s a Sweet Life, two years ago.
With Chocolate & Spice—a tidy, 2,300-square-foot-space with a bright, airy vibe; showcases for custom cakes, chocolates and pastries; and a tall, bar-like table perfect for a quick nosh and coffee—Romano is building her ideal neighborhood bakery, in a neighborhood without much competition. “We’ll start with a bit of breakfast: frittata, a daily quiche, muffins and scones. I think people are wanting to eat actual breakfast again,” she says. “Then for a late lunch, we’ll do salads, pasta and sandwiches, probably three in each category, changing often.”
The menu will focus on “good, simple, clean, fresh flavors,” with seasonal dishes like a tomato-watermelon salad with arugula, cracked pepper and Parmesan cheese, and penne pasta with broccolini and toasted garlic. “We’ll keep it nice and light. And it’s definitely a bakery first,” Romano says, so don’t forget the cookies, brownies, ice cream and sorbet and special confections like popcorn and marshmallows.
She expects to be producing more wedding cakes and catering special events, having worked one of the first weddings at the Smith Center. “There are not many [wedding cake bakeries] that combine great looking with great tasting. There’s a niche there, just like there are not too many coffee shops or bakeries around here.”