Luca West brings the flavors and the feel of Tuscany to Northeast Ohio

190417 Luca West 5365
Surrounded by black wrought-iron gates and bountiful beds of flowering rose bushes, foliage and fountains, the Luca West patio seats about 180 diners and includes intimate dining areas——in addition to a 360-degree hexagon-shaped bar hemmed in by distressed wood planks and granite. (Photography: Benjamin Margalit)

By Patricia Nugent

Chef Luca and Lola Sema—owners of Luca West—are kicking off summer this month by opening their courtyard patio and introducing warm-weather dishes to the menu.

The fine dining establishment brings to life an old-world Tuscan estate, with bleached flooring, rough-hewn, wood-beamed ceilings, and stately sculptures and artwork imported from Venice, all of which evoke a romantic mood of understated elegance.

Hitting Gastronomic Heights
This is the second summer Luca West has been open, and Chef Luca says he has a good feeling for what his patrons like best.

“People appreciate that my classic Italian dishes are rustic, simply prepared with the freshest ingredients and only the very best quality of meats and seafood,” he says.

Four of Luca’s favorite dishes are the Burrata appetizer, Stinco d’Agnello lamb shank, Cena al Tonno tuna chop and Bucatini alla Bolognese.

“Burrata in Italian means ‘buttery’ and this cheese lives up to its name,” he explains. “Made with the outer shell of mozzarella from cow’s milk, filled with fresh cream, it’s much softer than mozzarella. In this appetizer, we pair it with tomato and basil.”

The lamb is also a stunning dish. Luca slow roasts a two-pound shank for five to six hours, with carrots, celery and onions with pinot grigio.

“You cannot get more Italian than Bucatini alla Bolognese, my favorite pasta dish on the menu,” he says. “I hand-make the bucatini, which holds onto the robust red sauce with fresh tomatoes and herbs. For depth of flavor, we use four meats: ground veal, pork, beef and duck.”

He prepares the bone-in tuna chop simply, searing it on the grill with olive oil, salt and pepper.

“Our salads make delicious lighter meals, too,” he adds. “Some of our most-ordered ones include the Barbabiotole, with slow-roasted beets, walnuts, goat cheese and pistachio oil, as well as the Lituga di fruti, with pears, raisins, walnuts and gorgonzola tossed in a blood orange vinaigrette.”

Sensational Summer Sippers
As a third-level sommelier, Lola enjoys curating an enviable wine program and educating diners about each selection. As expected, her impressive 250-plus bottle wine list is heavy on the Italians.

For summer, she’s brought in some bodacious reds and will be offering more of them by the glass, including Gaja—a classic vintage from Italy known as a “Super Tuscan”—Prisoner, a California varietal; and Caymus Special Select from Napa Valley.

“I’m also introducing several rosés from Provence and Tuscany,” says Lola. “They complement appetizers and lighter fare beautifully, and yet are wonderful just sipped by themselves.”

For a fruity sensation, she’s concocted several taste bud-tempting types of bubbly prosecco-based Spumanti di Luca, in refreshing flavors such as roasted blackberry with thyme, blood orange with ginger, white peach with lemon and pomegranate with dark chocolate.

“They’ve become so popular, we started offering them by the pitcher,” she says.

In addition to wines, they serve an extensive martini and cocktail menu (Cucumber Margarita, anyone?), as well as non-alcoholic options with fresh-squeezed juices and botanicals.

As They Say in Rome: “Il Patio e Aperto!”
Luca and Lola imported their restaurant’s artwork from Italy, and the patio is no different, starting with the sculptures, down to the terra-cotta roof tiles on its central bar. Surrounded by black wrought-iron gates and bountiful beds of flowering rose bushes, foliage and fountains, the patio seats about 180 diners and includes intimate dining areas—in addition to the 360-degree hexagon-shaped bar hemmed in by distressed wood planks and granite.

“We wanted to create the friendly, charming feeling of Italian piazzas, where people kick back and savor wonderful food and drink,” she says. “We’ve already hosted a wedding here, and it was very romantic. The photos were gorgeous.”

To emphasize the laid-back vibe, they bring in entertainment each week during the summer. Check out their Facebook page for a schedule of the local musicians.

You can conveniently access the patio from either the outdoor gated entrance at the building’s side, or through the main indoor entrance.

The same menu available inside the restaurant is also served outside.

Luca West is located at 24600 Detroit Road on the first floor of Teal Place in Westlake. Hours are Monday through Thursday, 5 to 10 p.m.; Fridays and Saturdays, 5 to 11 p.m.; and Sundays, 5 to 9 p.m. You can make reservations online. Call 216-201-9600 or visit

Categories: Westside Food & Dining