As the oldest Romanian Orthodox parish in the United States, St. Mary Romanian Orthodox Cathedral been hosting its fish fry for more than three decades — and some parishioners argue it might have been the first parish in Northeast Ohio to open its fish fry to the public.
It’s no surprise, then, that this longstanding tradition can stand up even to a pandemic. “We have a huge parking lot,” explains Mihaela Hetruc, the parish administrative secretary. “People will drive up, and have a menu handed to them. Cars will be directed into 1 of 2 loops through the back parking lot, where people will place the order, pay, then be directed to drive up to where they will receive their food. They’ll stay in their cars and food will be brought to them in bags.” This well-organized venture accepts cash, credit, even Apple Pay and Samsung Pay.
Visitors will have a variety of dinner options, with sides that include french fries, mac ’n’ cheese and coleslaw. The combo plate includes 1 piece of pike, 1 crunchy cod, 4 shrimp and 2 sides ($16). The other dinners — 2-piece pike ($14), 2-piece crunchy cod ($12), 1-piece baked cod ($11), and 8-piece shrimp ($12) — all include 2 sides. Chocolate or lemon cake are $3 piece, bottled water is $1 and Pepsi products are $2.
The fried blue pike is a flaky, semi-sweet, mildly flavored standout, and a personal favorite of Gus Secue, who organizes the event with George Ittu, Jr.
“I learned from the elders how to cook it,” says Secue, who’s been overseeing the operation for more than 10 years. “The batter we use gives it its mild flavor and that little crispiness on the outside.”
“We take pride not only in the food, but also making everyone feel welcome,” he says.
Fridays during Lent 5-7:30 p.m. 3256 Warren Road, Cleveland, 216-941-5550, smroc.org