ALEXANDRIA, VA – What do Shrimp Creole or Crab Cake Empanadas and Cherry Blossom Gelato have in common? They’re all unique dishes you can find at Boccato, Del Ray’s newly opened Latin American/Peruvian cafe, which is a great place to relax and grab a zesty bite.
“I always wanted to come to Del Ray,” French-trained owner Cristian Velasco told The Zebra about his family-friendly cafe, once located in Clarendon.
After some wrestling with city permits, Velasco transformed an old barbershop tucked away on Mount Vernon Avenue into an ode to his native Peru, and it is already becoming the place for empanadas and gelato. His secret? “Consistency and listening to people’s ideas as well as criticisms,” says Velasco. “This is the key to business.”
“I only began with six empanadas, but because I love to create, we now have fourteen different empanadas and more to come,” Velasco explains. “After customers requested gourmet empanadas, things sky-rocketed. I have received so much love from the neighbors, the community and the business owners here.”
When asked why empanadas, he contends that “every country has their own version of an empanada — easy to eat and grab with your hands,” he says. He hopes to expand the business to outdoor seating, adding a garden for a family-friendly environment where he can provide “live music, like jazz; or have kids read poetry.”
Finally, when asked how Velasco chose the name Boccato, he said, “It’s a hybrid word. Boca means mouth and Boccato is an hors d’oeuvre to be eaten in one or two bites.” Despite this literal translation of Boccato, in sampling some of the gelato and an empanada, one would have trouble stopping at just one or two bites.
Boccato is located a 2400 Mount Vernon Avenue, and is open every day but Monday. Call 703-869-6522 or visit their Facebook page for more specific hours and menu items.