As a child in Lima, Peru, Cesar Augusto Mugaburu Garcia spent most days watching his mother cook traditional dishes. He learned the bountiful flavors native to the country, some of which are still rarely used in the United States. The food-loving teen immigrated to the United States at 16 and took a job as a pantry cook in an Italian restaurant. His love of worldly cuisine took him to Italy, France, Spain, and Portugal for professional training, before returning to Cleveland to open his own restaurant that pays homage to his Peruvian roots.
Chef Cesar stuffs olives, eggs, peppers, and chicken inside tamales, and marinates pork chops in a Peruvian adobo sauce. The Peruvian flavors he discovered as a child are used in many of the dishes, including the hangar steak kebabs and the Muscovy duck breast. The Latin-infused eatery even offers salsa on Friday and Saturday nights, when a DJ fills the room with heart-pounding Latin tunes and guests can spin and bear-walk their way across the dance floor.
The antipasti counter, panini bar, and wood-fired pizza oven combine to give guests plenty of reasons to visit Valenti's Ristorante. If that's not enough, notes belt out from an 1856 piano as the scents of pasta, steak, and seafood waft from table to table. The chefs, in addition to crafting popular dishes, craft them with locally acquired ingredients, antibiotic and hormone free meats, Gerber Amish chicken, and fish delivered fresh on a daily basis.
From its outpost in the Cleveland Heights, The Mad Greek crafts a menu of Greek and Indian food, which is prepared fresh every day. Chicken curry dishes and alu ghobi are served alongside pita sandwiches filled with beef and lamb gyros, chicken souvlaki, or falafel. Small bites include spanakopita and hummus and the Athenian burger acts as a culinary Trojan horse, delivering tzatziki sauce and feta cheese into open mouths.
The recipient of taste-based honors such as Cleveland Magazine’s Silver Spoon Award and the Plain Dealer’s Best Fried Chicken Spot, Phil the Fire transports traditionally Southern comfort fare into the heart of the Midwest. The restaurant’s chicken and waffles, made with fluffy belgian waffles and hot-sauce-ready meat, anchor a wide-ranging menu, packed with hearty Southern victuals. Owner Phil Davis works closely with his daughter Machiah Imani and a dedicated staff to establish a family-friendly vibe and to forge comfort fare staples, including casseroles, meatloaf, and mac ‘n’ cheese, from fresh, wholesome ingredients. A casual, brick-and-wood-laden interior and low-lit dining room keeps meals less intense than those eaten inside saunas, and a fully stocked bar sates thirsty crowds during daily happy hours.
The staple of Sushi Rock’s menu is its selection of roughly 50 sushi, sashimi, and maki rolls, which collect multiple Japanese flavors into one neat package. The Sushi Rock roll alone packs a punch of shrimp tempura, crabstick, salmon, tuna, asparagus, and masago. A slate of USDA Prime steaks and fresh seafood entrees such as sesame-seared tuna complement the sushi-bar creations. Each meticulously plated dish arrives in Sushi Rock's ultra-modern dining space, where backlit bottles glisten against a cityscape mural in the bar area, and color blocks of red and black pop in the dimly lit dining areas. Together, Sushi Rock’s choice food and hip vibe earned it a No. 1 ranking on CityVoter's Best Sushi list in 2010.
Cool breezes caress the faces of diners seated at the brick-walled outdoor patio at Marbella Restaurant, recalling the Mediterranean climate of the Spanish seaside resort for which the eatery is named. Indoors, tuxedoed waiters deliver fresh seafood such as twin lobster tails, grilled scallops, and jumbo shrimp to tables lit by flickering candlelight. Spanish wines, from sparkling cavas to rich, red riojas, pour into glasses from a full bar.