The owners of D.C.'s newest Peruvian restaurant, Nazca Mochica, want people to see the cuisine as more than rotisserie chicken, so that's the one traditional dish you won't find on the menu.
The restaurant, located at 1633 P St. NW, has two components: The lower level, now open, hosts a pisco and ceviche bar. The upper floor, opening in two to three weeks, will be devoted to "classical contemporary" dishes in a more upscale dining room.
The restaurant comes from Robert Preston and Walter Lopez, a Peruvian native. The duo spent two years in Houston, where they got to know Peruvian chef Roberto Castre's Latin Bites restaurant. After being introduced by a friend, they asked Castre to help them open a Peruvian restaurant. Castre has now relocated to D.C., while his family runs the Houston restaurant.
The downstairs bar, dubbed Mochica, features six types of ceviches. A staff favorite, "cebiche asiatico," nods to the Asian influence on Peruvian cuisine. Tuna is combined with roasted peanuts, chorizo oil, red bell peppers, red onions, sweet potato, Peruvian corn, wonton chips, and bonito flakes, among other ingredients. In addition, Castre is preparing tapas-style street food dishes like veal heart skewers and fried yucca. More fusion is apparent in pork belly steam buns with passion fruit dressing and other toppings and "Peruvian ramen" with chicken and yukon gold potatoes. Mochica aims to launch brunch this weekend.
The bar also serves three pisco sours, including one with passion fruit and another with yuzu. There are also a couple of twists on the traditional Peruvian Chilcano cocktail, which contains piscos infused with Peruvian peppers or mint, ginger, and lemongrass.
Nazca, the 47-seat restaurant upstairs, will have more of an appetizer/entree format. It will eventually be open for lunch and dinner. The menu is still being finalized, but Preston says to expect lomo saltado, a beef dish stir-fried with tomatoes and onions and served over rice and French fries. There will also be causa, mashed potato dumplings topped with meats or seafood, as well as tacu tacu, rice and lima bean-based pancakes. Wine pairings will also be available.
The upstairs will take reservations, while the downstairs is open for walk-ins. The owners hope to someday use a third floor for private events.
Take a look at the full menus below.
Nazca Mochica, 1633 P St. NW; (202) 701-9944; nazcamochica.com
Photo courtesy Nazca Mochica