Since 2017, Chef Nico Romo has been wowing the oyster- and seafood-loving crowd at his Mount Pleasant establishment, NICO.
With a locale perfectly situated to reap the bounty of Charleston waters, Romo's signature venture is a natural progression of the decade he spent as executive chef of the popular former eatery, FISH.
The accolades continue as he builds on that tradition with three acclaimed restaurants. Love fresh seafood? Then head to NICO, where fresh, wood-fired shellfish and seafood form the framework for a menu that is inspired and admired.
If you lean toward more European styles of cuisine, try Chef Romo's Bistronomy in Charleston, a French bistro concept he created with Chef Dominique Chantepie offering casual, innovative dining.
In Summerville, patrons rave about Laura, Chef Romo's love letter to his Italian grandmother. The menu is teeming with favorites like woodfired pizzas, heavenly meatballs, pastas and more.
Romo's culinary aesthetic can be described in three words: local, local, local.
"We're always looking to source any seafood we use from our local waters," he said. "Whatever is available locally that I can get my hands on, I go for it and find ways to use it in the restaurant."
His dedication to serving the freshest seafood is more than just talk. He was the first chef to set out with Charleston fish purveyor Mark Marhefka on his early morning fishing trips, incorporating the day's catch in his restaurant's evening menu.
Romo's French and Italian touches in the kitchen are a mix of birth and professional training.
Born in Lyon, France, Chef Romo also lays claim to an Italian heritage on his maternal side. He was schooled in the culinary arts at the Helene Boucher Culinary Art School and honed his skills under the tutelage of French Master Chef Patrick Henriroux at renowned restaurant, La Pyramide.
Romo is the youngest US chef to have membership in the French Culinary Academy and was named one of 66 Master Chefs of France - the only South Carolina chef with this distinction.
It's a distinguished culinary education and career that just keeps on giving.
"As a chef, you never stop learning and there's a continuous opportunity to teach your employees the ins and outs of this amazing industry, which can be difficult, but rewarding," Romo said. "And to be able to please your customers, being a part of their celebrations and to be able to provide them great pleasure, putting a smile on their face when they eat your food, that is the best reward."