The 49-seat Zoma Ethiopian Restaurant features a wide-range of vegetarian and meat dishes, from sambusas to beef, lamb and chicken Ethiopian tibs to Doro Wot.

By John Petkovic (cleveland.com) |

CLEVELAND HEIGHTS, Ohio―The chefs, trendy eateries and entertainment districts might get the spotlight, but what is a food scene without the small, tucked-away spots that explore faraway places yet feel like home?

After all, these are the places that give a scene flavor and make a town seem like a city.

And, yet, why is a rising food town like Cleveland so lacking when it comes to such a popular cuisine as Ethiopian? For years, Zeleke Belete has been wondering why that is…

Well, no more – because he’s doing something about it.

Belete and his wife Betty Kassa have just opened Zoma Ethiopian Restaurant at 2240 Lee Road in Cleveland Heights.

“I would travel and see so many Ethiopian places in Seattle and cities all over,” says Belete, who moved from Ethiopia in 2004. “People love Ethiopian food all over, but here – they don’t have a chance to try it.”

Empress Taytu (6125 St. Clair Avenue, Cleveland; 216-391-9400) has dominated the scene for decades when it comes to Ethiopian cuisine. But Belete sees room for growth.

“There is a high demand,” he says. “Not just among people from Ethiopia, but a wide range of people here.”

No doubt – and not just because the African nation’s rich history and culture, art and music has long captured the imagination of the West.The rise in vegetarianism has also helped popularize the cuisine of Ethiopia, which is renowned for its creative preparation of vegetables.

Continue reading this story on cleveland.com
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