Barroco Grill Brings a Little Bit of South America to Lakewood

Restaurant, art gallery open on Madison Avenue at the west entrance to Birdtown.

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.”

Kenny April 24, 2011 at 11:23 AM
What are your hours of business? Went there on Friday @ 8:00 and you were closed.
Colin McEwen April 24, 2011 at 12:49 PM
They're hours are not set. Since they only recently opened, the owners are trying a few different closing/opening times... I was told that the hours will be set soon. I hope that helps.
Susan Kaminski May 31, 2011 at 05:15 PM
I was looking forward to trying Barroco's but was dissapointed as the menu was just sandwiches.
Eric Bonzar June 03, 2011 at 10:55 PM
Went there for lunch today for the first time. AAAAAAAAMMMMMMMMAAAAAAAZZZZIIIIINNNNGGGG!!!!!!!!!!!
Susan Kaminski July 27, 2012 at 05:11 PM
Since I'm having difficulty deleting my own message, let me retract this! Went back to Barroco's and LOVED it. Shows you what happens when you don't ask questions.


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