Make your escape to the new Luca West outdoor dining oasis

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Whether dining inside or out at Luca West, the menu offers diners a wide array of pasta, seafood and meat dishes, along with a 250-plus bottle wine list, to enjoy during their visit. (Photography by Benjamin Margalit/Margalit Studio)

By Patricia Nugent

The term al fresco is Italian for “in the cool air.”

In Italian cities such as Florence, this translates to meals enjoyed overlooking vibrant and breathtakingly beautiful piazzas.

Now Clevelanders can capture a taste of al fresco at Luca West in Westlake. The Italian restaurant opens its charming black wrought-iron gates to a sweeping piazza-esque patio this month.

“We wanted to re-create what it feels like to slow down and enjoy the splendor of an outdoor garden oasis,” says Lola Sema, who, along with her husband, Chef Luca, owns the restaurant.

For the feeling of Florence, Lola imported outdoor sculptures and terra cotta pots overflowing with flowers. They also planted more than 200 rose bushes of 60-plus varieties to add color to the shade-covered patio that lives in a courtyard behind the building. It’s conveniently accessible either from the outdoor entrance at the building’s side, or through the main restaurant entrance.

Central to the patio is the 360-degree, hexagon-shaped bar, fashioned from Italian granite and comprised of custom stonework. Surrounding the bar, four raised platform dining areas with umbrella-covered tables create a more intimate vibe, but still allow for people watching, just like in Italy.

And there’s plenty of room for dancing to local musicians. The area seats about 180, and Lola says they have already had people looking to book the patio for weddings, graduation parties and rehearsal dinners.

“With this romantic backdrop, our space lends itself to memorable events and gorgeous photos,” she says.

All of the amazing dishes and drinks available inside the restaurant are also available outside.

Food as Art
Since opening late last year, Luca West has earned a reputation for culinary flair, marrying a European sensibility for the freshest ingredients simply prepared with viewing food as its own form of art.

Chef Luca and Lola, who is a third-level sommelier, created a new menu that’s a bit of a departure from the one at their flagship restaurant in Cleveland. Lola says they focus more on seafood, with lighter sauces and bold flavors.

As with the outdoor patio, Lola’s vision of an elegant Tuscan farmhouse estate comes to life indoors, too, with the bleached wood flooring, rustic wood-framed windows and glorious, large-scale paintings by Yarek Godfrey that evoke a romantic, wistful mood against stark white walls.

She says the only thing she loves as much as the paintings is the life-sized sculpture of an Italian maiden she imported from Venice, which looks serenely over the restaurant.

Summertime Fare with Flair
Lola says that one of her favorite meals for spring and summer is the Mare (pronounced “mah-ray”). The Italian word for “sea” comes to life in this sea-worthy dish of handmade tagliatelli pasta, garlic, extra virgin olive oil, clams and shrimp.

And she says the Sea Bream is also popular. Found in the Mediterranean and similar to a bronzini, the delicate flavor of this white fish stands alone when grilled and filleted tableside.

To complement the fare, an expansive 250-plus bottle wine list is heavy on the Italians. She has brought in some new Italian whites and rosés that complement the lighter dishes on the menu.

Luca West is located at 24600 Detroit Road, in Westlake. Hours are Monday-Thursday, 5 to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 5 to 11 p.m.; Sunday, 5 to 9 p.m. You can make reservations online. Call 216-201-9600 or visit

Categories: Westside Food & Dining