Food News

Clandestino’s Lauro Romero Named Chef at the Ritz-Carlton

He joins executive chef Pedro Almeida at Bellpine restaurant, on the 20th floor of the downtown Portland luxury hotel.

By Katherine Chew Hamilton May 18, 2023

Chef Lauro Romero

The Ritz-Carlton has revealed the most prized detail about its highly anticipated 20th floor restaurant in its towering 251-room hotel: the chefs. The restaurant, called Bellpine, will host chef Lauro Romero, whose restaurant Clandestino at Lil’ Dame won the heart of our critic, Karen Brooks

Bellpine dishes will highlight Pacific Northwest ingredients, with every dish incorporating at least one local element. According to a press release, menu items might include Oregon purple uni with potatoes and egg, sockeye salmon with rosewater, or rabbit with truffles. Sounds fairly safe, but the desserts get a little wacky—think mushroom ice cream with a brownie and candied mushrooms. The press release promises quintessential Oregon wines like pinot noir and chardonnay. Romero will join the previously announced culinary team of executive chef Pedro Almeida, who most recently served at the Ritz’s resort in Sintra, Portugal, and prior to that, headed the country’s only Michelin-starred Japanese restaurant. 

A rendering of Bellwether's interior.

For Romero, this looks like a significant departure from his work at Clandestino, where he crafted dishes like tuna confit empanadas and aged kanpachi with charred corn husk powder. Romero is still involved with Clandestino, but he recently handed the reins of chef over to his longtime right hand, Alfonso “Poncho” Torres. Prior to opening Clandestino in December 2022, Romero was the former executive chef at República; before that, he was the head chef at King Tide Fish & Shell.

Block 216, the multi-use building that houses the Ritz-Carlton, also recently announced the name of its upcoming first floor food hall, Flock. It'll include several already beloved vendors, including Sunrice, Birrieria La Plaza, and Kim Jong Grillin’. While the floors below Bellpine will be devoted to hotel rooms, the floors above will be Ritz-Carlton Residences, which are condominiums priced at $1.5 million to north of $7 million—which is to say that the residents can afford to have the candied mushrooms delivered as room service.

Stay tuned for our interview with chef Romero coming early next week. The restaurant and hotel (900 SW Washington St) are projected to open in summer 2023.

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