In addition to Madera, Menlo Park's only Michelin star-rated restaurant, Mr. Romme has also been chef de cuisine at Menlo Park's Marche Restaurant (now closed), and executive chef at Left Bank.
"Our goal at the Menlo Grill has always been to be a great neighborhood restaurant, and we are thrilled with Erik's extensive knowledge of the local dining scene and the local food purveyors," said Nathan Davis, Menlo Grill's director of food and beverage.
Mr. Romme is focusing on the restaurant's Christmas Day dinner as his first menu, Mr. Davis said. "Early in the new year, he will create his first seasonal menu, and diners can expect ongoing evolutions of the menu to reflect the availability of fresh, seasonal ingredients," he added.
In a written statement, Mr. Romme said: "My passion is to create food that is classically refined with a casual, homey feel. I get my inspiration from walking through farmers' markets and keeping up with the latest flavor trends.
"As much as possible, I try to make the ingredients speak for themselves and showcase the natural beauty that they provide. I like to create dishes that are not just exciting in flavor, but also effectively mix color and texture to delight all of the senses."
The Menlo Grill Bistro & Bar, at 100 El Camino Real, is open every day for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and for late-night snacks.
Call 330-2790 for information or reservations.
opens in Menlo Park
Piccolo Ristorante Italiano, Menlo Park's newest Italian restaurant, officially opened its doors on Dec. 14, serving dinner six nights a week through December, and adding lunch to the offerings next month.
The restaurant is at 651-H Maloney Lane, just off Oak Grove Avenue, in the space formerly occupied by Bona restaurant.
The opening is a homecoming of sorts for Piccolo's owner, Elio D'Urzo. who co-owned Brunello Ristorante Italiano, which operated at the Maloney Lane site from 2008 to 2010.
Piccolo's menu features many traditional Italian dishes, including gnocchi and pasta, chicken piccata, and eggplant parmigiana, according to Piccolo general manager Lucino Gonzalez. The chef is an Italian native, Mr. Gonzalez said.
The restaurant also plans to have one or two fish entrees on the menu every week, Mr. Gonzalez said.
Although the owner had hoped to have a liquor license by now, it didn't arrive in time for the restaurant's official opening. Mr. Gonzalez said the license is expected by this week, but meanwhile, patrons can bring their own wine and the restaurant won't charge a corkage fee.
Mr. D'Urzo is a native of Calabria, Italy. His experience in the restaurant business in this country includes being a co-owner of Sapore Italiano in Burlingame.
He jumped right into the restaurant business shortly after moving from Italy, learning the ropes while working at his uncle's restaurant in Marin County.
Piccolo, Mr. D'Urzo's first solo project as a restaurateur, will be open Monday through Saturday for dinner only in December, but will begin offering lunch as well next month, Mr. Gonzalez said.
Dinner hours are 5 to 10 p.m. Call 326-1314 for more information or to make a reservation.