The Inwood area of Manhattan is not exactly known for its bustling restaurant scene, but plastic artist and entrepreneur Dario Oleaga wants to change that. He’s opening Vacca Grill & Lounge (416 West 203rd Street), a 5,800-square-foot restaurant in what used to be the home of a mechanic’s garage.
The mega restaurant features a Champagne lounge with a wall filled to the brim with sparkling French wines, a main dining room that seats 70, a blackened steel cocktail bar, an elevated dining area, and a private dining room decked out in graffiti art. Oh, and did we mention the Ally McBeal-style unisex bathroom?
According to Vacca’s rep, Michael Gartenlaub, the idea for this restaurant came from Oleaga’s desire to open an art gallery in the area he’s called home for 18 years. “Since the community lacks the funds and culture to expose such an idea, he decided to develop this kind of project himself, so that the people in the community can have the opportunity to enjoy his and other colleagues’ art while having a nice dinner,” says Gartenlaub.
Oleaga brought in chef Humberto Leon, who did time at STK Downtown and Mesa Grill, and he put together a Latin-inspired menu heavy on steak and seafood dishes. Sommelier Lina Tio is in charge of the extensive wine and champagne list.
And of course, plenty of artwork adorns the walls. Not only does the restaurant house many of Oleaga’s own works, it also features a 3D mural of butterflies created by Rider Ureña, tattoo-style art by Aneudy Hernandez, and other works by Cangai, Carlos Martinez, and Diego Balarezo.
“Vacca is a place to enjoy fine cuisine, great champagne, and exciting new art,” Gartenlaub says. “It’s a place to intoxicate yourself on life and beauty.”
Vacca’s is open from 5 p.m. until 2 a.m. daily.