Arcay’s Chocolates: Award-Winning Bonbons on O

The confections created by Anabella Arcay de Berti in the beautiful shop she decorated herself, Arcay’s Chocolates at 3211 O St. NW — half a block from Wisconsin Avenue in the heart of Georgetown — are literally some of the best in the world. Arcay has won more than 40 international awards, including seven World Chocolate Master awards, for her handcrafted chocolate bonbons.   

Arcay, who goes by Anabella, moved to the States some 15 years ago on a business entrepreneur permit. However, she founded her business while a teen in Caracas, her home country.

“Oh my, yes. Si! Si! Anabella and her chocolates are well known in the country. In fact, if you did not have Arcay chocolates at your wedding in Venezuela, it almost wouldn’t count,” one laughingly told The Georgetowner. “Many wedding hosts and guests understood that the chocolates were more important than the cake. In fact, at times a multiple-foot-tall pyramid of Arcay chocolates replaced the wedding cake altogether on the reception table. Everyone loved them!”

Eating just one piece of Arcay’s custom chocolate may bring on a rolling-eyed swoon — at least for those Georgetowners who are serious chocolate aficionadas, including (full disclosure) this reporter. The rich layers of chocolate wrap around dozens of unique fillings, devised and revised by Arcay in the sparkling-clean chocolate kitchen and workshop below the main floor. Note: Classes in chocolate-making may be available.

The more than two dozen unique bonbon fillings at Arcay Chocolates include fruit and flower flavors, nuts, coffee/chocolate mixes and liqueurs. Customers often spend up to half an hour selecting 10 to 12 bonbons to go in a gift box.

“They often include the passion fruit bonbon,” Arcay said, “but the orange praline, guava, lavender, cherry blossom, dates and cashews, lime and mint are popular as well. There are some bonbons filled with flavors beloved in South America, such as churro, coquito, matcha and sarrapia. There are also the liqueur-touched bonbons with fillings of rum-orange, Irish cream and coffee noir. And many others!”

The white walls of the O Street shop are covered with richly colored depictions of jungle plants and flowers hand-painted by Arcay. On the second floor is a friendly, light-filled room. Arcay and her partner and husband Dario Berti are open to having that room used as a community space, even as a studio for Georgetown artists.

Arcay and Berti have enthusiastically become involved in community organizations such as Georgetown Main Street. They are partnering with several new and refurbished shops on O Street to plan block parties and events meant to spark the growing high-quality neighborhood atmosphere of Georgetown’s commercial areas.

“Anabella and her business have gone through many challenges and setbacks including serious illness and competition and major capital investments in equipment and new business technology,” Berti has written. “But she never gave up on her dreams. Today, she is an esteemed businesswoman and Chocolatier Master, thanks to her creativity, talent and vision.”  




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