The iconic Luca Italian Cuisine now has a sister location in Westlake

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Fans of the wildly inventive menu at the original Luca will also savor the new menu at Luca and Lola Sema’s Luca West, which emphasizes more seafood dishes and lighter sauces. (Photography by Joshua Gunter. Restaurant interior photography by Benjamin Margalit/Margalit Studio))

By Patricia Nugent

Building on the success of its iconic, award-winning flagship restaurant, Luca Italian Cuisine, on the Superior Viaduct overlooking downtown Cleveland, the new Luca West opened recently with the highest of expectations.

And from the fragrant olive and lemon trees housed in Italian terra cotta pots to the rough-hewn beamed ceilings reclaimed from an Ohio farm and a tantalizing menu of Italian cuisine, the reality lives up to the hype.

The Back Story
Originally from Albania, Chef Luca Sema came to America in 1997 after spending several years cooking in restaurants from Sicily to Milan and Tuscany. Once here, he honed his signature brand of Italian fare in Little Italy.

In 2013, along with his wife, Lola, who is a third-level sommelier, he opened his original restaurant. Following its smashing success, they set their sights on creating another in their current hometown of Westlake.

“Both of us worked at the restaurant that previously operated in this location,” she says. “So, we were familiar with the potential of such a large space.”

Lola’s vision of an elegant Tuscan farmhouse estate comes to life with the bleached wood flooring, rustic wood-framed windows and glorious artwork. Most of the large paintings are from Yarek Godfrey, a French artist friend of the couple who passed away in 2014.

“We had an opportunity to buy some of our favorites from his collection,” she says of the large paintings of women. “And against the stark white walls, they evoke a romantic, wistful mood.”

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.

They also took care to build striking black quartz-topped communal tables that seat up to 10 around wood pillars in the spacious bar. Lola searched the world until she found in London exactly the ultra-chic pendant lights she wanted, which feature smoky black glass bulbs on the exterior and miniature chandeliers on the interior.

Fantastic Venue
When Luca and Lola were designing the space, they were intent on keeping things intimate, yet open. Each of the three party rooms opens up to the restaurant either via Palladian windows or sliding barn doors, and the main room features a stacked stone fireplace.

“We wanted to create event spaces that have the same warm ambiance as the rest of our restaurant,” says Lola.

A Love Affair
Fans of the wildly inventive menu at the original Luca will also savor the new menu at its west location, which emphasizes more seafood dishes and lighter sauces.

Luca says that one of his favorite dishes is the Costolete al Orecchiette, or lamb chops, which are grilled and served with raw wheat orecchiette and melted Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.

He says the Sea Bream is also very 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, but also sports some impressive French, Spanish, Argentinian and California bottles.

And no meal is complete without a sweet finish. Don’t miss Luca’s inspired Cinnamon Panna Cotta topped with a Chambord-strawberry sauce.

Luca West is located at 24600 Detroit Road on the first floor of Teal Place 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