Dictionary of London Immigrants |||

1870-1901 - Strand (Covent Garden)

Tags: Food, Gambling, Royalty

Restaurateur Alfonso Nicolino Romano was born in Naples (details are not known) and worked as a headwaiter at the Café Royal, Oscar Wilde’s favourite resort. In 1874 he bought a small fish and chips shop at no. 399 Strand and converted into a restaurant. In addition to his own name on the front, he added the words Café Vaudeville (the restaurant was located almost next to the original Vaudeville Theatre which had opened in 1870). It became a bohemian institution. Actors and dancers were much in evidence at Romano’s. Marie Lloyd, First Lady of the Halls, invariably dined there, and so did the Second Lady, Bessie Bellwood. Famous Vaudeville act Kate and Alice [The Sisters] Leamar sang a duet about Romano’s, Italiano / Paradise in the Strand’. The Prince of Wales, afterwards King Edward VII, was a frequent customer. The cuisine offered specials such as chicken curry, sauté de boeuf, filet de sole tabarin, or chicken à la Lombarde. Romano took pride in running the best wine cellar in London. Known as The Roman’, he never mastered the English language and spent all his profits on his passion for gambling. When The Roman died in 1901, he lay in state in a room above the restaurant he had made famous.

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