Donna To Resurrect Galileo
Chef Roberto Donna has signed a letter of intent for a location downtown in hopes of reopening Galileo, the formal Italian restaurant he ran in Washington for more than two decades. He expects to sign a lease soon for the space vacated earlier this year by Butterfield 9 at 600 14th St. NW.
When Galileo closed its 21st Street NW doors in 2006, it was because the office building the restaurant occupied was scheduled for a top-to-bottom renovation. At the time, Donna said he planned to return to the site after the work was complete. To keep himself busy in the meantime, the chef-restaurateur opened Bebo Trattoria, a casual establishment in Crystal City. He was eventually offered two different spaces in the reconfigured office building, neither of which suited him.
The future restaurant ("Galileo will be somewhere" in the name, says Donna) should be open in April or May, a target that sounds feasible given that there's already a kitchen in place; only the dining room will get a makeover. As at the last Galileo, the new one will have an intimate restaurant-within-a-restaurant featuring a tasting menu, Laboratorio del Galileo.
Despite the economic downturn, Donna, who turns 48 next month, thinks it's a good time for him to return to Washington: "There aren't too many Italian restaurants in town." He's also counting on a new White House administration to bring in an audience. Plus, he says he misses making more refined Italian food.
Donna will serve as executive chef at the new restaurant, and he's currently in talks with unnamed chefs in New York and Italy to assist him. Over at Bebo, chef Claudio Sandri gets to add on to his title there; Donna is making him a partner.
-- Tom Sietsema
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