In this article we report the results of an experiment introducing 17 native shrub and tree species into a Brazilian restinga (i.e., coastal sandy plain vegetation). Restingas have been affected by human impact for about 8,000 years, and human occupation for housing, tourism, and land speculation has recently increased in such a way that there is a need for conservation of remnant patches and restoration of degraded areas throughout the coast to protect biodiversity. Our study site is a remnant located in Rio de Janeiro, the second largest city in the country, and has been subjected in the past to deforestation, man-made fire, and sand extraction. Although trees and shrubs predominantly compose natural restinga vegetation, local vegetation after impact was replaced by an exotic grass cover, which meant a drastic reduction in species richness. Thus, in this experiment we removed the grass cover, introduced shrub and tree species, and monitored survival and growth of 20 plants per species for 2 years. Despite the adversities imposed by the nutrient-poor sandy soil, 70% of the species showed high survival percentage and considerable growth. This report on restoration initiatives in the restingas points out the viability of shrub and tree plantation following exotic grass removal as a strategy to restore Brazilian coastal vegetation.