Born to a Pugliese father and a Slovenian mother in Puglia (the heel of Italy’s boot), Sandro lived with his family in Italy and Germany before they finally settled in Nice, France where he grew up.
By the time he turned 15, he was already working professionally as a chef when he decided to “see the world.” By the time he was done, he had visited 57 countries and learned seven languages.
He ended up on the Saint Martin in the northeast Caribbean where he ultimately became the executive chef at one of the island’s most exclusive restaurants. But more importantly, it was also where he met his wife Niki. Although she was living in New York at the time, the couple decided to settle in Houston where her mother grew up.
You may remember Sandro from his time as executive chef at Sud Italia, Shanon’s restaurant in the same bungalow where ROMA is located today.
During 2020, Sandro ran a highly successful contact-free food truck. But now he’s eager to get back into a real kitchen where he can spread his culinary wings.
“I’m not going to be changing the core dishes of ROMA’s menu,” he says. “I want to keep our regular customers happy.” But he will be bringing back his legendary Orecchiette con Cime di Rape, “little ear” pasta with broccoli raab, a dish inspired by his early childhood in Puglia and his parents’ cooking.
He also plans to add a number of Pugliese and seafood dishes, including a selection of crudo. And he also plans to focus on seasonal ingredients and spending more time tableside, whether filleting a branzino or plating a risotto for the restaurant’s guests in the dining room.
After returning from a long trip to Italy and France to visit relatives, “I’m so excited to be back in Houston, a city that I love,” says Chef Sandro. “And I can’t wait to get back in the kitchen after so many months away.”
Chef Sandro will be debuting his first wine dinner menu for the restaurant for ROMA’s now bi-monthly virtual event this Thursday, July 1.