Sin City is home to a lot of restaurants and bars, but there are tons of hidden gems that the majority of Las Vegans aren't unearthing. To help guide us to these potential discoveries, we've enlisted some of our city's food players to share their recommendations for a weekly feature dubbed Dining Confidential. Know a chef who wants to share some top dining spots? The tipline is open.
Megan Romano graduated from Northwestern University with one out-of-the-box aspiration — to work for Charlie Trotter. After all, her degree was in communications studies. Work for Trotter she did until she decided to take on New York, where she went to work for Charlie Palmer at Aureole. She went on to work with Gray Kunz at Lespinasse, then returned to work with Palmer to open Aqua Terra with her husband, Joe Romano. The move set her up to become the executive pastry chef at Aureole at Mandalay Bay. Now she has her own bakery and cafe, Chocolate & Spice Bakery, that serves up sweets and savories. Here she shares her favorite places to dine in Las Vegas.
Where do you enjoy eating when you're not working?
My new favorite neighborhood spots are Poppy Den, Honey Salt and Mastrioni's.
What dishes are most memorable?
At Poppy Den, the jumbo lump crab toast with mango mustard and watermelon salad with goat cheese lightly marinated in yuzu with candied lime and candied wasabi, both dishes are super simple with fresh and clean flavors.
?Honey Salt's burrata, Rosso Bruno and teardrop tomatoes and the Tuscan canellini bean soup stand out. I love soup with unique components that marry really well together. It's a great comfort food.
Mastrioni's clams on half shell and chicken Franchese are great dishes. The chicken Franchese is prepared traditionally and isn't overdone.
Why do you enjoy going there?
All restaurants are close to home, which is a big bonus. Poppy Den offers a casual dining experience with an upstairs lounge area.
Honey Salt reminds me of back East in Cape Cod where we have spent many summer vacations. It has a friendly neighborhood feel.
Mastrioni's serves consistently flavorful Italian cuisine, enough to impress my Sicilian husband (not easy). The smell of garlicky tomato sauce hits you at the door.
It feels good to support local restaurants that serve great food that we can experience without heading to the Strip.
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Megan Romano [Photo: Courtesy]