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Vacant Lot in East Harlem Transformed Into Outdoor Brazilian Restaurant

By Gustavo Solis | October 17, 2017 4:18pm

EAST HARLEM — It's Rio on the Harlem River.

What once was a graffiti-adorned lot on 120th Street overgrown with weeds is now a little slice of Carnival.

Ramiro Silos, who used to decorate window displays for Saks Fifth Avenue and Lord & Taylor, took the derelict space and opened Vidigal, an open-air restaurant inspired by his native Brazil.

He added a plastic roof cover last week.

“Before, we used to have to close when it rained,” he said.

The restaurant is still a work in progress, but the concrete slab looks a lot nicer with wooden chairs and tables, a bar, plants and a colorful mural of Vidigal, a neighborhood of Rio for which the restaurant is named after.

Silos plans to install lights and a heater in the coming weeks. The vacant lot is connected to a catering business on First Avenue that Silos also owns, so the kitchen and restrooms are indoors.  

Silos sees the restaurant and bar as part of his home. He’s hosted private parties and had musicians perform live while people eat and dance.

“I want my friends to come to my backyard and bring their friends, too,” he said.

One of those friends include model Francisco Lachowski, who has 1.8 million followers on Instagram and posted a photo of him and his son at Vidigal that got more than 130,000 likes.


Vibes 🙌🏼🤘🏽

A post shared by Francisco Lachowski (@chico_lachowski) on

To make sure his buddies keep coming, Silos caters to their every need. The menu mostly contains steaks and traditional Brazilian fare like a black bean and pork stew called feijoada.

But for diners who want something that’s not on the menu, Silos will accommodate — like he did for a patron who called a couple weeks ago asking for rabbit.

"I said, 'hold on, give me one hour,'" Silos recalled. "I went to Queens. I have an Arabic guy there, they have everything."