Co-owners Robert Preston and Walter Lopez became fans of Castre's Latin Bites restaurant during a two-year stint in Houston. The Georgetown grads were looking to return to Washington with the idea of opening a restaurant. At the same time, Castre had been thinking about expanding.
When Preston and Peru native Lopez, whose family is also in the restaurant business, asked Castre if he'd be interested in a project with them, the chef jumped at the opportunity. "I came to Washington, and as soon as I got here, I fell in love with the city," Castre said; Dupont reminds him of the Miraflores neighborhood in his home town of Lima, he added.
Named for a pair of ancient Peruvian civilizations, Nazca Mochica will be spread across two floors in the space formerly occupied by Heritage India. The first floor will feature a pisco bar with tapas and seviche. The main dining room will be upstairs. Each floor will hold about 30 to 40 diners.
"We want to try to take the Peruvian food to another level," the chef said. "We want to create our own dishes using Peruvian ingredients."
Castre intends to feature some dishes from his Latin Bites menu, including causitas, mashed potatoes seasoned with lime and peppers served with chicken and crab salads. He's also partial to his seviche mercado, which features whitefish, octopus and crispy calamari.
The chef has already made Washington his home, with family members taking the helm at Latin Bites back in Houston.
"The idea is to stay here for a very long time," Castre said.
Nazca Mochica, 1633 P St. NW. www.nazcamochica.com. Opening in October.
Correction: China Chilcano opened in early 2015, not 2014.