At Home with Sami Ladeki & Sharon Tabak
Posted on June 30, 2014
When Sharon Tabak learned that Sammy’s Woodfired Pizza & Grill was opening in La Jolla, her reaction was immediate: “Just what La Jolla needs, another pizza shop. He’ll be out of business in six months,” she predicted. That was 25 years ago. Tabak, now married to restaurateur Sami Ladeki, readily admits she has been “eating her words” (and Sammy’s pizza) ever since.
The innovative Ladeki parlayed that first pizza place into a veritable empire — now 21 restaurants in all — including La Jolla’s popular Roppongi and Ladeki’s latest concept, Sammy’s Restaurant & Bar now open in Las Vegas and soon to debut in Sacramento. The years have brought personal happiness as well. Ladeki and Tabak, who first connected at a party at the home of a mutual friend, had their first date at Rancho Valencia, and were married in 2004.
The couple recently showed Ranch & Coast around their home, what Tabak calls “an oasis,” overlooking La Jolla Shores. “When someone is as intense and successful as Sami,” she says, “you have to get away from it all.” Near the entryway, a large stone Buddha, just one of many in the couple’s collection, offers a feeling of serenity. There’s also an immense sea sponge, a piece of natural sculpture that looks more architectural than aquatic. Throughout the house are works by Tabak, a gifted artist and painter, from spare pen-and-ink nudes to whimsical “Wanted Posters.” She confesses to rummaging through waste bins to rescue and repurpose wood and other finds for her artwork. She painted Floating Woman, in the sea coral-inspired family room, for instance, on recycled plywood. “It has a wonderful grain,” she says, “that reminded me of water.” The motif is fitting, given the home’s spectacular seaside setting. Sliding pocket doors in the large living room blur the lines between the indoors and out, opening onto a terrace with a vanishing edge pool, plenty of room for entertaining, and sweeping views of the palm tree-dotted shoreline just beyond.
The home’s interior design is dramatic and organic — natural elements of stone, wood, and woven materials predominate. A massive woodcarving tops the fireplace, and a long, handcrafted wood dining table is a gathering place for friends and family. Above the table is a striking piece by Washington artist Susan Singleton, whose large-scale paper constructions — stitched, dyed, painted, and stenciled — are among the couple’s favorites. Two more Singleton works, depicting shimmering golden urns, frame the living room’s arresting views. Art and accessories throughout the home also reflect the couple’s love of travel including another Tabak piece that depicts some of the many places they have visited — Athens, England, Paris, New York. “[Travel] is an inspiration for me, as an artist,” says Tabak, “and for Sami, it’s the source of new ideas.”
The couple’s kitchen is a sleek space with granite counters, travertine tile floors, and iridescent tiles that look like abalone shells, changing color with the light. “My husband is the best cook, hands down,” Tabak insists. “I am the baker.” Ladeki, however, is modest. “I’m not a chef. I’m a restaurant guy. I like simple food.” After working in high-end hotels and restaurants all over the world, Ladeki now prefers a more casual approach to life and food. That means grilled fare, great salads, and specialties from his childhood in Lebanon (some of which have wound up on Sammy’s menus). Tabak is known for her cakes and summer fruit pies, and for macaroons that were served at Roppongi’s for years. “I am still waiting,” she says with a smile, “for my check.” Andrea Naversen