What’s in a name? Quite a bit, actually.
The name Barroco is Spanish for Baroque — an artistic style following the Renaissance. The period is best characterized by movement, emotion and change.
To the father/son owners of the new South American-style restaurant that quietly opened last week, Barroco about says it all.
When Carlos Vergara packed up his family and moved from Colombia to Northeast Ohio more than 11 years ago, he was looking for a little piece of the American Dream.
He toiled in restaurant kitchens in Cleveland — including the Cleveland Chop House. But he was always working for someone else.
He was also working toward an ultimate goal.
“When we moved to the US, we were told to work hard to buy a house,” said Carlos Vergara. “We did that. But this — this is my American Dream.”
Now, the 45-year-old and his son, Juan Vergara, have a restaurant of their own, situated at the west entrance to Birdtown on Madison Avenue.
Barroco's menu boasts Latin American favorites, including the restaurant’s signature item: arepas — two flat pieces of grilled, ground corn flour with meat, veggies or both squished neatly between them.
The restaurant also features arepa fries (crispy french fries made of corn), Barroco skewers and the house version of a Cuban sandwich.
There are also American favorites that include BLTs, turkey clubs and Philly cheese steaks.
But don’t ask for ketchup or mustard — Barocco doesn’t carry them.
Instead, customers are encouraged to step out of their comfort zone and try one of the four homemade sauces: ranchero, garlic, pineapple and pesto mayo. Soon, there will be new sauces — one that's spicy and another made from peanuts.
“The type of food we have is different,” said Juan Vergara. “How we make it is really different, too.”
“This is not fast food — it’s food fast,” he said.
Juan Vergara said he and his dad go out of their way to obtain food from local sources — to not only ensure freshness, but to support local farmers.
“The food culture in Lakewood is great,” said Juan Vergara, who is also a graphic design and marketing student at Cleveland State University. “We thought this is the place to open.”
Juan, 24, said he and his dad wanted to combine the arts with the restaurant. The walls are covered with artwork crafted by locals. Even the barstools at the lunch counter are made from repurposed art.
Right now, there are eight artists’ work on display — including oil and acrylic paintings, photography, illustration and floral designs.
“We want to inspire local artists, and we want them showcase their work here,” he added.
Each week, new work will be shuffled in.
Eventually, Barroco Grill — set for its Grand Opening later this month — hopes to feature live music. But right now, it’s one step at a time.
“We’re all about new concepts, which really embodies our name," Juan Vergara said. “We’re introducing a new style, and a new food.”