As you walk past the corner of Martin and Wilmington Street you can’t miss ORO. It is a beautiful lounge that looks incredibly classy. It might look a little intimidating from the outside, but I promise looks are deceiving. Chef Chris Hylton and his team have done their best to make this a fun and welcoming environment where you can enjoy good food in good company.
Chef and owner Chris Hylton has been interested in cooking since he was a young boy in Jamaica. When he was a teenager he saw his Uncle and older friends going against the norm, at the time, and taking Home Economics. They would bake exciting birthday cakes and have fun while doing it. Seeing the joy that cooking brought them inspired him to try it out for himself. If you couldn’t guess, he loved it and decided to pursue being a chef as his career. He came to the US in 1990 and started working with a chef in Los Angeles that would soon become his mentor and friend. For years they worked together to build and open eleven different restaurants in the area. During this time Chris learned invaluable skills and lessons that he would carry with him until he opened a restaurant of his own. After many years, Chris made his way to the East Coast, spending some time in DC before finally moving to Raleigh in December of 2008. He knew Raleigh was a fast growing city and was excited to be a part of it and do something for himself.
After settling in to Raleigh, Chris started looking for a space of his own. He actually passed up the current location twice before taking one last look and realizing its potential. After creating a second story and decorating the restaurant to feel clean and spacious, ORO was finally open. The food at ORO is inspired by Chris’s many world travels. His favorite part of travelling is experiencing the food of other cultures and sharing those experiences with the people he loves. Eating good food is all about the people you are enjoying it with, which is why ORO specializes in dishes that are meant to be shared. Chris loves putting his own spin on dishes and using local, in season products, which is why the menu at ORO changes seasonally. Chris also loves the growing local beer scene in Raleigh, so you might find some local favorites on tap. If you don’t see something you like on the menu, you can call or email a few days ahead of time and Chris will create your own chef tasting menu to ensure that you get everything you want out of your experience. Most of all, Chris and his team want you to know that ORO is for everyone. While it can look intimidating from the outside, it is the perfect place to come with friends and experience food that is made with passion. You’ll also dine with a staff that is fun and friendly, and truly care about the food and the service that they are providing to you.
Chris has certainly become part of the Raleigh food community and we can’t wait to see what else he brings to the table. He also loves creating new dishes and was immediately excited by the idea of creating a special menu for our readers. We look forward to partnering with ORO for a Food Adventure Dinner in the future, so keep an eye out for details coming soon!
Photos courtesy of ORO Restaurant & Lounge.
Melissa Guido is currently a dietetic intern in the Triangle area. She studied nutrition at NC State and Meredith College. Her favorite part about nutrition is showing people that healthy food can be exciting and delicious. Melissa loves traveling and learning about how food fits into different cultures. In her free time she loves trying new restaurants, cooking, and obsessing over her dogs. Follow her on Instagram @made2order and at www.madeorder.wordpress.com.