The couple who brought you SAVI Cucina + Wine Bar, recently opened another location, this time focused on the flavors of coastal Spain and the shores of the Mediterranean.
Ty and Karen Raju experienced so much success with their first restaurant, which they describe as “upscale Italian,” that they felt it was time to bring another concept forward with small plates, craft cocktails and an extensive wine list. Sommba Cocina & Cellar opened at the end of January at Indigo Square at 1710 Shoremeade Road, off S.C. 17.
The couple, who hail from Florida, saw an opportunity and seized it.
“Mount Pleasant is one of the fastest growing cities in the United States; people from larger cities are relocating here,” Ty said, adding that the couple was well aware of what they were getting into when they started their first restaurant. Not only did they survive COVID, but they did well enough to feel confident enough to open a second establishment. “The margins are thin, you have to be good at analytics and understand what people are interested in spending their hard-earned money on,” said Ty.
Enter Sommba, which, according to Ty, fills a niche. “We love the Lowcountry lifestyle where there’s plenty of fried chicken and barbecue, but few are offering fare that can be found in the big cities,” he said, adding that the area contains a lot of “white space,” meaning that competitors are few and far between.
The restaurant serves 100 inside and 40 on an outside patio and most dishes are locally sourced and made from scratch, including the desserts, according to Ty. “We come from the school of thought that sometimes you have to go out a little further when sourcing ingredients, but the closer, the better,” he said. Dishes include Mediterranean favorites like garlic shrimp, steamed clams, lamb meatballs and their most popular dish, Octopus a la plancha, served with harissa romesco, hazelnut, pickled peppers and crushed fingerling potatoes.
And for those who’ve visited Spain and loved the Paella, Sommba’s chef is going to be cooking up three versions: vegetarian, Valencia made with chicken thighs and rabbit sausage, and De Marsico, made with shrimp, calamari, squid and clams.
To say the wine list is extensive would be an understatement. As a certified sommelier with the Court of Master Sommeliers, Ty takes his wine seriously and it’s no wonder. According to the organization’s website it bestows the distinction on those who are “among the most qualified in the industry with outstanding tasting and evaluation skills, wine knowledge and abilities in service and beverage department management.”
To earn the designation, Ty said that it took approximately three years of study, but the rigor paid off with three consecutive Wine Spectator awards at SAVI Cucina + Wine Bar. “I’m hoping that Sommba gets one next,” said Ty, although he is quick to point out that there’s no one on staff surveying the landscape with a Tastevin around his neck. “That’s just a little much; we want people to feel comfortable here whether they choose to wear shorts, or a suit,” he said.
Sommba also offers margaritas, daiquiris and old fashioned cocktails, as well as a selection of craft beers and ciders and as a nod to the sober movement, there are two non-alcoholic choices on the menu as well.
Ty said that the restaurant is off to a good start, judging by the number of customers that are flocking to the place.
“We’re quickly becoming Mount Pleasant’s favorite bar,” he said.
- By Stephanie Kalina Metzger