Ila Verde restaurant opens Monday in downtown Worcester

WORCESTER — For Marfel Melendez, healthy food and her Dominican roots have always been important in her life.

In a space along Main Street, the 29-year-old will combine the two when she opens Ila Verde, a restaurant with an emphasis on bowl-style dishes in a Caribbean-inspired restaurant setting.

Melendez, of Boston, said she named the restaurant Ila Verde — Green Island in English, using the alternate spelling for “island” in Spanish — in part because of what she said her restaurant offers to downtown Worcester.

Among the options, Melendez said the restaurant will have vegan and pescatarian dishes prepared by a staff of three.

After recently receiving permission from the fire brigade for her sprinkler system, she hopes to open the doors of Ila Verde on Monday.

“I want to offer people quick and healthy food,” says Melendez. “You can just come in, make a bowl and away you go.”

Located at 420 Main St., once the site of a jewelry store, the restaurant will be located on the same sidewalk where the Owl Shop did business for more than seven decades and where a Latino bakery La Central opened in late 2022.

Melendez, who said she manages multifamily properties in the Boston area, said she modeled her restaurant on her family’s roots in the Dominican Republic.

Wicker chairs and wooden tables, under a suspended ceiling that she herself stenciled with tropical contours, complete the picture that begins with an entrance that Melendez has filled with greenery along the ceiling and walls.

“I want it to feel like home,” Melendez said. “I want people to come in here, sit down and just enjoy the atmosphere.”