Self-taught chef at Romeo's Euro Café accepts no substitutions in dishes

Romeo Taus, Romeo's Euro Cafe, Pork Molise
Romeo Taus, who emigrated from Romania at age 18, shows off his Pork Molise dish. Pork Molise ($29) is a grilled pork tenderloin wrapped in bacon, and served with roasted garlic, horseradish mashed potatoes, honey caramelized onions and apricot-dark cherry sauce. (Tom Blodgett/Community Impact Newspaper)

Romeo Taus, who emigrated from Romania at age 18, shows off his Pork Molise dish. Pork Molise ($29) is a grilled pork tenderloin wrapped in bacon, and served with roasted garlic, horseradish mashed potatoes, honey caramelized onions and apricot-dark cherry sauce. (Tom Blodgett/Community Impact Newspaper)

If you are a diner who takes the menu as a starting place or a suggestion, Romeo’s Euro Café in the Heritage District probably should not be on your list of restaurants to try. Chef Romeo Taus does not do substitutions in his restaurant.

That is because Taus has meticulously crafted his Mediterranean-style dishes, combining flavors and layering the dishes in just such a particular way.

“That’s all I have,” he said. “I’m not here to throw things in food that I don’t think belong there. There’s a reason why they’re there.”

One might think Taus has come to these conclusions from years of training. But he is not a classically trained chef and admits he stumbled into finding his talent, and he came into the restaurant industry by accident.

Taus is an immigrant from Romania, with a family story that bounces between there and the U.S. His father was American born and returned to Romania with his family as a school-aged child. Taus is Romanian born and came to the U.S. at age 18 when his dad returned in 1972.


Taus eschewed his original path toward engineering and ended up working at a drugstore company opening stores in California and then Arizona in the late 1980s.

His business partner at the time used to give cooking classes on Sundays, and Taus hung around “like the towel boy” to collect some free food at the end of classes.

“All of a sudden I realized that my taste buds, I taste food very much different than a lot of other people,” he said. “Then what’s the next step? I realized that I could do this for the rest of my life. That was exciting.”

He told his wife, Janice, that he wanted to open a restaurant, and in 1991 they did so near Fiesta Mall in Mesa. After only a few weeks, he got some media attention, launching steady growth.

In 2004, he moved into his current space in the Heritage Court building on Gilbert Road. He did it though he said many people advised him against it. But one person who pointed him to downtown Gilbert was Joe Johnston, a friend and the restaurateur behind nearby Joe’s Real BBQ.

That made Taus something of a pioneer of the Heritage District as Restaurant Row exploded in the years that followed.

Taus has seen up and down cycles since then with the Great Recession and the coronavirus pandemic, but he has held on through the losses and the increased competition by serving food he believes in.

“I believe in the sum of the parts being greater than each part,” he said.

A Taste of Romeo

Romeo Taus hosts weekly Taste of Romeo dinners in a private dining room across the Heritage Court breezeway from the restaurant.

Each week he serves anywhere from four to 30 people different sample-sized portions of food and pairs them with wines.

Romeo’s Euro Café

207 N. Gilbert Road, Ste. 105, Gilbert

480-962-4224

www.eurocafe.com

Hours: Mon.-Sat. 11 a.m.-9 p.m., Sun. noon-9 p.m.
By Tom Blodgett
Raised in Arizona, Tom Blodgett has spent 30 years in journalism in Arizona and is the editor of the Gilbert edition of Community Impact Newspaper. He is a graduate of Arizona State University, where he now serves as an instructional professional in the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication and editorial adviser to The State Press, the university's independent student media outlet.


MOST RECENT

road construction
Town looking to resume work on Recker Road

The town anticipates work to resume in late spring and last four months.

Valvoline Instant Oil Change
Four business now open in Gilbert

Here are four businesses that have opened recently in Gilbert.

Work on the Lindsay Road interchange for the Loop 202-Santan Freeway is affecting traffic on Lindsay Road. (Tom Blodgett/Community Impact Newspaper)
Traffic shifting on Germann, Lindsay roads for street work

Some traffic shifts will happen starting April 19 in conjunction with a road project improving Germann Road between Mustang and Val Vista drives and Lindsay Road between Germann and south of Loop 202-Santan Freeway.

Housing scarce in Gilbert; Chandler approves bonuses for city staff and more top area news

Read the top business and community news from the past week from the Chandler and Gilbert areas.

Heritage District
Heritage District gets liaison from town of Gilbert

The town of Gilbert is adding focus to its downtown area by adding a liaison to the Heritage District.

The Chandler USD governing board approved an agreement with the city of Chandler during a meeting April 14 to split the costs associated with four school resource officers at schools across the district. (Alexa D'Angelo/Community Impact Newspaper)
Chandler USD governing board OKs agreement for school resource officers

The Chandler USD governing board approved an agreement with the city of Chandler during a meeting April 14 to split the costs associated with four school resource officers at schools across the district.

In the last week, Maricopa County residents received an average of more than 33,000 doses of vaccine per day, according to the health department. (Courtesy Adobe Stock/Graphic by Justin Howell/Community Impact Newspaper)
More than 40% of Maricopa County adults have received at least 1 COVID-19 vaccine dose

More than 40% of Maricopa County adult residents have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, according to the Maricopa County Department of Public Health.

Gilbert Public Schools
Gilbert Public Schools employees to get 2% raises, 3% stipends

The Gilbert Public Schools governing board approved giving most of its employees a 3% stipend next school year, in addition to 2% raises, in an effort to stay competitive on salaries.

Batch Cookie Shop
Batch Cookie Shop opens in Gilbert's City Gate

The family-owned shop makes gourmet cookies

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommended health providers pause distribution of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine April 13. (Olivia Aldridge/Community Impact Newspaper)
Federal health authorities recommend pause of Johnson & Johnson vaccine after 6 rare, severe blood clots

After six reported cases of a rare and severe blood clot in patients who received the vaccine, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and U.S. Food and Drug Administration are recommending a pause on administration of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine.

See a breakdown of COVID-19 cases, vaccinations and more local data. (Community Impact staff)
COVID-19: See cases, vaccinations by ZIP code in Gilbert

Here are the COVID-19 data updates to know today.

Here are the coronavirus hospitalization data updates to know across Arizona. (Community Impact staff)
ADHS: ICU beds in use down to 162 April 14

See the latest COVID-19 hospitalization data.