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Between them, Megan and Joe Romano have garnered four Michelin stars and helped open more than 150 bars and restaurants from Chicago to New York City to Las Vegas, everything from high-end eateries to a small bakery.

And in their new, side-by-side Bozeman restaurants — Urban Kitchen and Salted Caramel Café — the couple is condensing their wealth of culinary knowledge and experience into concepts that reflect everything they love about food and drink.

There’s plenty of overlap between Urban Kitchen and Salted Caramel, both in the space (located in the ground floor of the 5 West building on Mendenhall Street, the two are connected by a hallway and shared restroom) and the work (both Megan and Joe Romano cross over cooking and baking in a shared kitchen).

The menus, too, are a collaborative effort. As a breakfast and lunch joint, Salted Caramel offers a variety of Megan Romano’s handcrafted pastries and sweets — from glazed pumpkin scones to sugared doughnuts — as well as savory dishes such as her award-winning fried rice and vegetarian frittatas.

At Urban Kitchen, where the focus is dinner, Joe Romano describes the progressive American fare as “fun food that we want to cook.”

That food includes pot-au-feu, a French beef stew encased in pastry, as well as pastas made in-house and a pork and beans dish served with pork butt and crispy bacon. There’s also a hefty wine list — a tribute to Joe Romano’s time at Aureole Las Vegas, home to a four-story, 10,000-bottle “wine tower.”

The menus at both restaurants are intentionally small and ever-changing, encouraging a more consistent customer base, the couple said.

“We want to be a neighborhood spot; we want to see people more often,” said Megan Romano.

Born and raised in Connecticut, Megan Romano graduated from Northwestern University, but quickly shelved her corporate career in favor of life in a kitchen. She trained under acclaimed chefs Gray Kunz and Charlie Palmer, the man behind Aureole New York, a one Michelin star restaurant in Times Square. It was there that she met Joe Romano, and the two eventually moved to Las Vegas to open Aureole — she as the pastry chef and he as the executive chef.

While in Vegas, Megan Romano also opened a bakery, Chocolate & Spice, while Joe Romano became an executive at a bar and casino group, where he oversaw more than 50 establishments.

Eight years ago on Christmas Day, close friends invited the couple, along with their three children — Will, Nina and Frankie — to visit them in Bozeman. That same day, the family piled in the car and made the 12-hour trek north.

“We got here and absolutely loved it,” Joe Romano said.

Since that first trip, the family has made multiple annual jaunts to Montana. They knew they wanted to move, Joe Romano said, it was just a matter of when. The 5 West development, with its prime location and flexible spaces, represented the perfect opportunity.

Megan Romano and the kids moved up to Bozeman 18 months ago, while Joe Romano spent the last year or so wrapping up operations in Las Vegas, making weekly trips back and forth between projects. Urban Kitchen opened its doors two weeks ago, and Salted Caramel served its first meal a week later.

In the years that the family has been visiting Bozeman, the area’s culinary scene has “matured” and diversified, Joe Romano said, and the two are excited to find their place within it.

“It’s impressive,” he said. “From a chef’s point of view, it’s incredible to work with ranchers and farmers and to know exactly where your food is coming from.”

And while the couple has plenty of history behind them, the Bozeman ventures bring with them a chance to try something new.

“I have reservations about everything we do, but with this project it felt like there were no reservations,” Joe Romano said.

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Kendall can be reached at 406-582-2651 or He is on Twitter at @lewdak

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