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Ilha dos Navegantes
The Ilha group of 8 bars and restaurants is well-known in Boa Viagem area of Recife for quality food and excellent service and started in 19 at Ilha da Kosta restaurant literally 50m from Ilha dos Navegantes, one of the newer offspring. All the establishments are famed for quality and service and the customer being king, hence their success.
All are open year-round until the early hours. Navegantes' differential is that it is the liveliest evening venue of the group and gets packed with young and old, couples, families and groups with kids welcome.
Its menu is strong on a large variety of delicious seafood and grilled meats starters, main courses and desserts, plus sushi, and a full bar. There are music videos on the screens and the option of seating on the varanda or inside.
Family-owned since day 1, the group is closely watched over by two brothers, Severino ('Biu') e Jose ('Ze') Inácio de Lucena, and other family members, made easier as all but the latest addition, Ilha Sertaneja, are within the same block in central Boa Viagem near the beach - quite a little gastronomy micro-empire.
Their story is all the more extraordinary as they were born into a farming family in the poor interior (Frei Miguelinho, Agreste, 114km from Recife) and came to Recife to work in restaurants where they were quickly promoted to waiters. In 1981, the then owner of Ilha da Kosta, from the same town and where Severino waited, offered the restaurant to the 2 brothers.
After much hard work and treating the customer well, they found success and fame as pioneers by staying open until the last customer, their signature dish, File Parmegiana and home delivery. They soon opened Ilha da Kosta II as a mainly lunchtime per kilo restaurant and grew from there.
All cards accepted and valet parking available. Some waiters and the manager speak enough English to get by.