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Pirilo Pizza Rústica, Dorado


Eduardo Rubio / Jose Mercado





Location or Director:

Dorado, Puerto Rico



Pirilo’s Restaurant, in Dorado (Puerto Rico), was the sixth project Space Design helped create for the same loyal client, Eduardo Rubio; it was also one of the most exciting. Keeping the same story-line as the three other Pirilo restaurants while developing a fresh new décor theme, was one of the challenges Space Design had to meet. Sophie Aurelie also had to consider the characteristics of the new location: a restaurant located in a rural environment, catering to the upscale taste of Dorado’s gated communities and the guests of its luxury hotels.

Pirilo is now a well-known “ fictional character ” in San Juan: a boy of humble Italian origins who uses his family’s culinary talent and techniques to create the best pizza in town! The design concept and décor of the three existing restaurants feature each an aspect of this boy’s story, as well as his family’s traditions and old-world memorabilia, to create the friendly and homey atmosphere for which Pirilo is known.. The new restaurant in Dorado had to build on this branding concept while adapting it to the new location and clientele.
Sophie Aurélie was given the outstanding opportunity to design the entire new building and create the indoor layout for the 250-guests space. The region of Dorado inspired the architectural concept she proposed: a typical Puerto Rican coastal plantation homestead. This in turn, gave her the idea to pay tribute to the agricultural history of Puerto Rico and the people who worked on the fields through a story about Pirilo’s youth set in a Dorado plantation of the 1940’s and 50’s.

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The architectural plan of a typical country wooden home had to be redesigned on an extra-large scale to sit 250 guests. The challenge was to ensure the warm, intimate atmosphere for which all Pirilo’s restaurants are known. The solution; divide the inside floor-plan into four smaller rooms and build around it a wide, wrap-around balcony overlooking the Dorado National Park Reserve. To make the best use of the inside space, the restrooms were located away from the house, on the terrace, which added to the feeling of going back in time.

Each room would feature a décor inspired by a different chapter of Pirilo’s new story. 95% of all the decor elements are antiques found on the island, including tables and chairs. The floor tiles, made in the Dominican Republic use the same handmade techniques as the ones once manufactured in Puerto Rico; they also feature typical puertorrican patterns of the tiles known as losa criolla. The tiles on the terrace, called Terrazzo, are also typical and fortunately still manufactured on the island.

The construction of the restaurant took a year, which gave Sophie Aurélie enough time to research, gather, restore and rewire the decorative elements of the new space. An intense search enabled her to find some amazing photographs in the 1940’s and 50’s, of the region’s inhabitants and landscapes. She selected the ones that best fit the imaginary story of Pirilo and his cousins spending Summers in Dorado.

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