Italian Restaurant Rosemarino D’Italia To Make Return In Del Ray

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ALEXANDRIA, VA — Rosemarino D’Italia, a restaurant started by a chef who immigrated to the U.S. from Bolivia, will return to Del Ray in 2023.

The Italian restaurant had been open for eight years at 1905 Mount Vernon Avenue before it closed in 2021. Manager Edward Camacho, the son of restaurant founder Chef Rosemeri Espinoza, cited miscommunication with the landlord as a reason for the closure. A second location at 1714 Connecticut Ave NW in DC’s Dupont Circle was kept open.

But after the landlord and customers urged them to return to Del Ray, they are preparing for a reopening. Camacho, who will run the restaurant with his mother, told Patch a soft opening could happen as soon as mid-February.

“We had a lot of support. We had a lot of neighbors come to Dupont Circle from Del Ray,” Camacho said.

In 2013, Espinoza opened Rosemarino D’Italia in Del Ray, specializing in Northern and Southern Italian cuisine with a menu of pastas, risotto, seafood and more. Originally from Bolivia, she arrived in the U.S. at age 18 and developed a passion for Italian cuisine working for Italian chefs in DC. After becoming a sous chef in Alexandria, she opened her own restaurant on March 21, 2013, one of her son’s birthdays.

Six years later, she opened the second Rosemarino D’Italia location at 1714 Connecticut Ave NW in DC’s Dupont Circle, a neighborhood she got her chef experience from.

Chef Rosemeri Espinoza, courtesy of Edward Camacho/@nameiscamacho

Both restaurants experienced hardships during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic as the shift from dine-in service forced staff cuts. The Dupont Circle was almost closed, but it survived with support from grants and customers coming back.

Closing the Del Ray location was “the hardest thing my mother got to do” Camacho said. When the location closed, neighbors from Del Ray would come to the Dupont Circle location and ask when the Del Ray restaurant was coming back and how they could show support.

The restaurant had the opportunity to seek several other locations in Del Ray, but it wasn’t the same to Espinoza as her original Rosemarino D’Italia location. The pieces fell into place when the landlord contacted them and offered some support, allowing them to pursue renovations for the restaurant.

When the restaurant reopens in Del Ray, customers will find a revamped space and menu. The menu will initially mirror the offerings at the Dupont Circle location but will be adapted to customers’ needs and preferences, according to Camacho. A loyalty program will be launched, offering rewards like a bottle of wine, cocktails on the house or dessert with purchases.

The space is being renovated ahead of the opening as well. The revamped restaurant will include a full-service bar, adding cocktails to the drink menu in addition to beer and wine. The bar is expected to be a cozy six to eight-seat area, while there will be around 40 indoor dining seats and 30 to 35 seats on the side patio.

Camacho, who grew up as a kid spending time in the restaurant and around the neighborhood, is excited to return to Del Ray. He said he “fell in love with Del Ray” during the Art on the Avenue event and has enjoyed the walkable area where neighbors can walk to restaurants from their homes. At the same time, his mother found success with locals.

“The neighbors accepted my mother. The neighbors accepted me as a kid,” Camacho said.

Once Espinoza and Camacho reopen the Del Ray location, a soft opening will be held for family, then neighbors. A grand opening and ribbon cutting will be planned as well.

Applications for jobs will be launched in the coming weeks, but some of the staff at Dupont Circle have already requested transfers to the reopened Del Ray location.

For the family, the restaurant isn’t about making profits. Rather, it’s about providing a good food in a warm, welcoming environment.

“I feel like if you’re coming to a restaurant, you’re coming to my home,” said Camacho.

Learn more about the restaurant and stay up to date on the opening at rosemarinoditalia.com.

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