Smoke — that's what hits you first. The aroma of sweet smoke coming off everything from skirt steak and sweetbreads to charred beets, mortadella, and cheese sizzling on a grill the size of an airstrip. That smoke underpins most of Peruvian chef Victor Albisu's phenomenal cooking at Del Campo, a grand South American restaurant in D. C.'s Chinatown.
Albisu, whose grandfather was a Cuban baker and whose mother ran a market where her son learned to grill from Argentinean and Uruguayan butchers, has created a menu on which everything tastes as if it were prepared because you came to visit. Seafood and ceviches lashed with good olive oil share plates with chiles, charred onions, corn, yucca fries, romesco sauce, chimichurri, and salsa criolla (a tangy onion relish). The bar serves street food when the kitchen closes — empanadas, albondigas (plump, juicy meatballs), chicharones (fried pork), and chivitos (sandwiches stuffed with seared rib eye, mortadella, ham, cheese, olives, hearts of palm, and fried egg).
But the heart of the matter is a platter piled high with chorizo, short ribs, rib eye, lamb shank, and pork belly, all of them gleaming, fat-rich, and deep red, rosy, or pink, but always charred black. If the Peruvian food trend in the U. S. — which has been about to become a trend for a couple years now — needs a leader, Del Campo is it.
777 I Street NW; 202-289-7377; delcampodc.com