VACCA Grill & Lounge: Exquisite Food with a Side of Art

Attendees entering the VACCA Grill & Lounge in New York are quickly immersed in a multisensory experience that combines art and music within a restaurant setting. What was once a 5,800-sf mechanic’s garage has been transformed into a performance piece that stimulates more than the senses of taste and smell from the food, but also that of sight, sound and touch via the various art pieces gathered by Dominican Republic artist Dari Oleaga.

The entire restaurant can be bought out for a maximum capacity of 298, with seats for 70 guests.

“At VACCA, you can enjoy the music that is playing in the main dining area, but you can also play your own variety of music in our private champagne room and it won’t interrupt or interfere with the music that is playing in the other room,” says manager Stephany Reyes. “Our sets of lights can also be managed differently in different sections of the restaurant.”

Oleaga uses VACCA to provide a space to showcase works by other Dominican artists that he knows from the Altos de Chavon School of Design, a Dominican art school affiliated with the Parsons School of Design.

At the entrance, guests are greeted by a wall lined with fine champagnes such as Armand de Brignac, Perrier-Jouet, Don Perignon and Cristal. An LED chandelier in the main dining room features multi-colored lights that move to the beat of the house music using computer systems designed by a lighting engineer. Other art pieces featured include a 3D mural of butterflies composed of posters and tattoo-style art on brick walls based on representations of Chinese Imperial dynasties from textiles.

Located behind the centrally situated cocktail bar, an elevated dining room features Lucite chairs and steel-colored tabletops. It gives guests a 360-degree view of the art as well as an ideal view of the occasional live performances put on at the space.

The steak- and seafood-focused menu features Euro-Latin-Carribbean dishes mixed with specifically Dominican items that pair well with wine, champagne and some of the house-made cocktails such as the Lovely Limonada (Bulleit bourbon, lemon and sugar). Located just outside the kitchen, a raw bar is on display featuring oysters, clams, lobster, ceviches and shrimp—all waiting to be prepared. A variety of steak cuts—churrasco, tenderloin, bone-in ribeye and New York strip—are available and are topped off with Executive Chef Humberto Leon’s take on traditional steak sauces.

Meeting planners can arrange a VIP experience for attendees in the private dining room, which can hold up to 20 people seated. To get there, guests walk down a hallway decorated with spray-painted graffiti art images that represent comic book women.

The room features some of Oleaga’s original artwork such as the communal table crafted from a reclaimed tree and a refurbished industrial door covered with colored prints of champagne labels.