Enrique Limardo and Ezequiel Vázquez-Ger, co-owners of Imperfecto, share a meet-cute that rivals any Nora Ephron movie. The two men forged completely different paths until only years ago: Limardo studied culinary arts in Spain, then traveled the world opening restaurants and working as a private chef, until he landed in Baltimore, where he was executive chef of Alma Cocina Latina. Vázquez-Ger worked as a political consultant in D.C. for about 7 years, until he decided to move on from that world.
While deciding his next move, Vázquez-Ger’s wife, originally from Venezuela, wanted to try a new highly-rated Venezuelan-inspired restaurant in Baltimore. And so, their paths crossed.
“We tried it, and we thought, ‘This is amazing; I want this right next to my house,’” Vázquez-Ger says of the experience. “We asked [Limardo] to come out of the kitchen and we talked for hours, and we asked him, ‘Why are you here in Baltimore?’ It’s great…but D.C. is better.”
Their relationship only grew from that point on. They kept in touch, planned, and worked to build Seven Reasons, an award-winning restaurant on 14th Street. And then, the pandemic hit.
“Instead of thinking it was over, we decided, ‘No, this is the best,’” Vázquez-Ger says. “We’re going to take advantage of the situation, in a good way, to learn more and improve.”
They took a few months to conceptualize their new project, Imperfecto. And when the ideal space became available, right in the Foggy Bottom neighborhood, the concept became a reality. The restaurant opened March 19, and it offers an upscale feel with a unique sense of comfort. With its blend of Latin American and Mediterranean flavors, Limardo and Vázquez-Ger add creativity to both the food and the experience.
“We want to turn fine dining into fun dining,” Limardo says. “You’re having excellent food, presented in a beautiful way, but you’re having a lot of fun because of the vibes, the service and the people around you.”
In that way, the name and concept of Imperfecto comes to life. The co-owners believe the human experience is the journey of imperfect moments that create perfect memories. And with dishes like burrata and the pork tenderloin, every bite offers an unexpected and perfectly imperfect flavor combination. For the burrata, the dish presents tomato, mint and sourdough, and then a surprising pink pineapple flavor that carries the dish into new territories. With the pork tenderloin, a goji berry and rosewater marmalade makes a classic dish feel brand new.
“I try to connect everything,” Limardo says. “The part of the menu that comes from South America has something from the Mediterranean. I’m trying to do something in the opposite way. That’s why you find the burrata with pineapple. It’s part of the story.”
For Limardo, connecting everything includes his travel and culinary experiences in Spain, Abu Dhabi, Barbados, Venezuela, Dubai and Hong Kong, among others. And all of that experience has informed his creative work.
With training and experience like his, he’s able to picture the exact flavors and textures a dish needs to work with Imperfecto’s ethos: an imperfect flavor journey that actually tastes pretty perfect. To Limardo, “Every dish is like a son.” The braised lamb terrine, for instance, took twenty years to taste exactly how Limardo wanted it.
In the case of both the braised lamb terrine and Imperfecto’s opening, it was worth the wait.
“It’s the perfect time to open a restaurant,” Vázquez-Ger says. “Everything is starting to pick up.”
In such a time, Limardo and Vázquez-Ger’s Imperfecto offers a much needed experience: a delicious redefinition of imperfection. A place to meet, connect, and leave, as Aristotle says in his explanation of perfection, “knowing that nothing of the kind could be better.”
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