Sergio Abramof has been a chef and restaurant owner in Cleveland for over 30 years – and is one of the founders of Cleveland Independents. His two restaurants, Sergio’s in University Circle and Sarava on Shaker Square, are both worthy of a visit – especially Sarava for great happy hour specials.
1. What are the top 5 spices every home chef should have? Black pepper, basil, bay leaves, rosemary and ginger.
2. What is your favorite and least favorite thing to make? I love cooking scallops, and for that mater, any seafood. I’m not into baking; requires more discipline than I have.
3. What is your favorite thing about Cleveland and what drives you nuts? My favorite thing about Cleveland is Clevelanders. They are genuinely nice people. The lack of economic and political clarity, leadership and courage that keeps this city from reaching its potential drives me nuts.
4. If you could cook for one person, real or dead, who would it be? Carlos Santana would be fun to cook for. I know my improvisational cooking techniques would inspire some great riffs on his guitar. It would be a great food and music jam session.
5. Favorite restaurant in Cleveland? Nate’s Deli.
6. What restaurant do you miss? Au Provence on Lee Road was one of the best restaurants in the country!
7. What hidden gem(s) have Clevelanders yet to discover? It’s amazing to me how many people have never been to University Circle with all the world class “gems” right there. Our restaurant is one of them.
8. What’s your last meal on Earth? My grandmother, Theresa, was the best cook I knew. I would want her chicken soup, homemade yogurt with fresh bread, roasted chicken with glazed carrots and handmade crunchy apple strudel.
9. Most unusual food you have every tried? Chocolate covered insects
10. Most famous person you have ever cooked for? The ultimate foodie, Julia Child.
11. If you weren’t a chef, what would you be doing? Traveling and eating. Or eating and traveling.
12. What do you want people to know about Sergio’s and Sarava? First, that what makes both these restaurants great is the staff. We have the nicest and most talented people in the city working together. They are passionate – not just about food, but making people happy when they enter our doors.
Our University Circle restaurant is intimate and fun. Ryan, our manager and Chef, gives you a true taste of the Mediterranean with great tapas, seafood, pastas and one of the cities best cheese and wine offerings.
Sarava is big, bold and has the passion and energy of Brazil, my homeland. A big bar, caipirinhas, raw bar, and street plates – lots of intimate corners, lounges, a fireplace and a bustling patio with live music. It’s a way to take a vacation to Rio without leaving town.
14. How do you feel about the current state of Shaker Square? With the new Japanese restaurant open [Sasa Matsu], an Italian one on the way, Luchita’s, Balaton, Fire, Yours Truly, The Diner, plus all the great shops and restaurants around the corner on Larchmere, Shaker Square is poised to become one of Cleveland’s best dining destinations – and they are all unique, family-owned independent restaurants.
We look forward to seeing everyone at our restaurants. If anyone has any comments, we always love constructive criticism. Or, if you want to contact me for any reason, all info is the site.