Michael Romano is senior partner and culinary director for Union Square Hospitality Group, which includes some of the most acclaimed restaurants in New York City, such as Union Square Cafe, Gramercy Tavern, Eleven Madison Park, Tabla, Blue Smoke, Shake Shack, The Modern, and Maialino. More +
Michael Romano is senior partner and culinary director for Union Square Hospitality Group, which includes some of the most acclaimed restaurants in New York City, such as Union Square Cafe, Gramercy Tavern, Eleven Madison Park, Tabla, Blue Smoke and Jazz Standard, Shake Shack, The Modern, Cafe 2 and Terrace 5 at MoMA, and Maialino, as well as our catering business Union Square Events and the food offerings at the Whitney Museum of American Art. With 20 years of experience within USHG as chef/partner of Union Square Cafe, Michael has been instrumental in laying the culinary foundations of all of USHG’s existing businesses. In his new position, Michael is responsible for the development of culinary programs and kitchen design across all of USHG. Michael continues to collaborate with Union Square Cafe’s executive chef Carmen Quagliata, and he will help select and serve as a mentor to USHG’s team of award-winning chefs. He is also directly responsible for USHG’s role in Union Square Toyko.
Union Square Cafe became Michael’s home in 1988, and six months later The New York Times gave it three stars. In 1993, Michael became Danny Meyer’s partner. Over the years, Union Square Cafe has moved from a 21st ranking in the New York City Zagat Survey to the most popular restaurant eight times, a record! After its sister restaurant Gramercy Tavern took over the top spot in 2003, USC rose to the top yet again in 2004, becoming the first restaurant in Zagat’s history to reclaim the number one position; and after sitting behind Gramercy Tavern as the second most popular restaurant for the last few years, USC again regained the number one spot in the 2008 and 2009 guides. USC received the James Beard Outstanding Restaurant of the Year 1997. To share with others their passion for gastronomic pleasures, Danny and Michael collaborated in writing two cookbooks, The Union Square Cafe Cookbook, published by Harper Collins (1994), and Second Helpings (2001).
Michael has been honored to be the recipient of various nominations and awards. This includes the James Beard Foundation’s Best Chef in New York City, for which he was nominated seven times and won in 2001. He’s also been nominated for Food & Wine magazine’s top ten chefs in the U.S.A. In 2000, he was inducted into the James Beard Foundation’s Who’s Who of Food & Beverage in America. In 1997, he kicked off The New York Times’s weekly column, “The Chef,” with a series of eight articles. As a founding partner of Tabla, which opened in the fall of 1998, he helped to create an exciting dining experience that marries New American cuisine with the spices of India. Michael was also a founding partner of Blue Smoke, an urban barbecue restaurant that opened in 2002.