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Galileo III, Downtown in the old Butterfield 9 Space - Closed


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Tom Sietsema broke this news on his blog Friday afternoon: Roberto Donna's Galileo & Laboratorio Return to D. C.!

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/goingoutg...d=news-col-blog is the link to Tom Sietsema's Washington Post blog which notes that Roberto has signed a letter of intent to reopen his Galileo and his very personal restaurant within a restaurant, Laboratorio, on the site of the former Butterfield 9-in the old Garfinckel's building near 14th and F., N. W.

Roberto first worked in Washington as a teenager at Romeo and Juliet on K street before later moving to P street to start his own restaurant, Galileo. Over time the restaurant grew as did his name and excellence prompting the move to a larger and more refined location. In the mid '80's he moved to 21 st where for many years he continued as Washington's best Italian restaurant. (He won a James Beard Award here when the organization was young as the Best Chef in the Mid Atlantic) In the late '90's he started the Laboratorio which was a 12+ course, 3+ hour blowout in a private chef's room for 30 in the back of the restaurant. At one time reservations were made a month or more in advance for this room with the Washington Post noting four stars in its review. (Today, Roberto's would be the ONLY Italian restaurant if it were to receive four stars from Tom.

Roberto and two others would oversee the cutting edge, creative Lab with its open kitchen turning out "Duck Stew", white truffle risotto, as well as the city's finest most exquisite pasta. This was also the site of several private dinners over the years including these which I organized: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/168855 When Roberto reopens and is ready I intend to return to similar dinners to what we experienced then. Still, far too few people have known the primal intense simplicity of the curiously named "duck stew" which may be his single best dish. When last served it elicited a standing ovation from the 30 there and is still talked about today. Roberto's duck stew.

Welcome home, Chef!

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What is the latest on this? In December Chef Donna said January, but 2 days ago Joe H posted in another thread that "Roberto returns with Galileo III and his Lab in early May"! I'm familiar with con

...Roberto has signed a letter of intent to reopen his Galileo and his very personal restaurant within a restaurant, Laboratorio, on the site of the former Butterfield 9-in the old Garfinckel's building near 14th and F., N. W.

Bring grill back. Need pork sammich. Okthxbai.

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Laboratorio was one of the best restaurants in the United States.

They didn't say Laboratorio had service problems, Joe, they said Galileo.

I unfortunately happen to agree. While I've had several astounding meals at the Lab in my lifetime (a couple of them you organized), the two times I went with my wife to the Galileo dining room the service was somewhere between distracted and downright awful.

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It'd be great to see the Laboratorio come back to life.

As for Galileo....my wife and I had dinner there a few times. Once, we ordered some wine and it was good. Nothing amazing, but good. What annoyed me was that they insisted on keeping the bottle about 20-25 away from us on ice with several other bottles. So, not only could we not pour our own wine when we wanted to, we had to wait for someone to show up to do so. BAH! However, the silver lining for us was that closer to the end of the meal, they came over to fill our glasses (which were bone dry of course), they poured a different far superior wine to the one we ordered. I felt bad for whomever ordered the bottle, but we didn't realize it until we'd taken sips. We'd have pointed this all out to the waitron, but it was like pulling teeth just to even get the check. Oh well.

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Laboratorio was one of the best restaurants in the United States.

In all fairness it should be said that not everyone who ate there felt this way. My meal there was expensive & nowhere near as good as Citizyen or Citronelle were at the time, so I wouldn't have even said it was one of the best restaurants in DC, leaving the (silly) national question aside. The meals I had at Galileo were simply awful, as was the service. That pork sandwich was really special & deserving of all the hype.

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What incredible news this is if it winds up happening. I just started working a block away from that location. Hopefully the grill opens for lunch right away, I can't wait to (potentially) try that pork sandwich!

I used to work essentially across the street from that location. Sure would have made it easier to get there for one of those amazing pork sandwiches for lunch. But I'm 550 miles away now! Two ships passing (or not passing) in the night......

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In all fairness it should be said that not everyone who ate there felt this way. My meal there was expensive & nowhere near as good as Citizyen or Citronelle were at the time, so I wouldn't have even said it was one of the best restaurants in DC, leaving the (silly) national question aside. The meals I had at Galileo were simply awful, as was the service. That pork sandwich was really special & deserving of all the hype.

Laboratorio was worth everyone of the four stars that it received from Tom. As CityZen and Citronelle among the best in the U. S.

I wonder how many on this board had the opportunity to have dinner in the lab, especially at table #7 where you could talk to Roberto through the entire 12+ course dinner especially since you were literally less than ten feet away. The closest thing to this right now is Goldoni's chef's table. With Fabio gone there is a very real need to have Roberto back in D. C. in his Lab and Goldoni playing to a wider audience with its own chef's table. Enzo is superb in the front of the house introducing and discussing the dishes. He has real passion and pride for what he serves.

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Laboratorio was worth everyone of the four stars that it received from Tom. As CityZen and Citronelle among the best in the U. S.

I wonder how many on this board had the opportunity to have dinner in the lab, especially at table #7 where you could talk to Roberto through the entire 12+ course dinner especially since you were literally less than ten feet away. The closest thing to this right now is Goldoni's chef's table. With Fabio gone there is a very real need to have Roberto back in D. C. in his Lab and Goldoni playing to a wider audience with its own chef's table. Enzo is superb in the front of the house introducing and discussing the dishes. He has real passion and pride for what he serves.

But I think we're back to the same problem of semantics. No is saying that the Laboratorio experience was not wonderful. But this is not a thread about Laboratorio; this is a thread about Galileo. I had one ok meal at Galileo, and many terrible ones, for some of the same reasons others have already discussed. And those meals, frankly, utterly soured me such that I stopped going and did not go back for any reason, not even the wonderful Lab experiences.

We may need Roberto back in his Lab. But if he surrounds it with the old Galileo, then it's going to suffer the same fate all over again.

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Laboratorio was worth everyone of the four stars that it received from Tom. As CityZen and Citronelle among the best in the U. S.

I wonder how many on this board had the opportunity to have dinner in the lab, especially at table #7 where you could talk to Roberto through the entire 12+ course dinner especially since you were literally less than ten feet away. The closest thing to this right now is Goldoni's chef's table. With Fabio gone there is a very real need to have Roberto back in D. C. in his Lab and Goldoni playing to a wider audience with its own chef's table. Enzo is superb in the front of the house introducing and discussing the dishes. He has real passion and pride for what he serves.

I had dinner in the lab on four occassions, spread out over several years. I always enjoyed the experience, and agree that it merited four stars. I don't think many have disputed that. The fact remains that the "restaurant" portion of Galileo had "very real" problems, including inconsistent food, and the worst service of any restaurant of its caliber in Washington. I think everyone on this board has a healthy respect for Chef Donna's talent - however there does seem to be a pattern of difficulty with regard to service, etc. when not in the Lab.
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I had dinner in the lab on four occassions, spread out over several years. I always enjoyed the experience, and agree that it merited four stars. I don't think many have disputed that. The fact remains that the "restaurant" portion of Galileo had "very real" problems, including inconsistent food, and the worst service of any restaurant of its caliber in Washington. I think everyone on this board has a healthy respect for Chef Donna's talent - however there does seem to be a pattern of difficulty with regard to service, etc. when not in the Lab.

Agreed. I had dinner in the Galileo restaurant, and while the menu itself, as well as the setting, was elegant and ambitious, the service and food fell flat. I remember eating there with my parents, who had high expectations, and we all left disappointed. With respect to Donna's talent, I do wonder if the inconsistencies surfaced when he was not in the kitchen or in a supervisory capacity.

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Roberto has signed a letter of intent to reopen his Galileo and his very personal restaurant within a restaurant, Laboratorio, on the site of the former Butterfield 9-in the old Garfinckel's building near 14th and F., N. W.

The window on this property has a reasonably new decal advertising restaurant space with a realtor name, number, and Web site. I guess the deal fell through?

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The window on this property has a reasonably new decal advertising restaurant space with a realtor name, number, and Web site. I guess the deal fell through?

Not necessarily - the announcement was based on a letter of intent, which is often more distant than it seems from a completed lease. The deal could have fallen through, or they could still be negotiating.

Restaurateurs, never announce a place before the lease has been signed - you're just giving the building owner more leverage.

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I blame it on its rather pathetic service, and it was definitely operator related (as documented on here and on CH).

My couple of meals there were rather unremarkable and that had nothing to do with the service.

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Put me in the hopeful but skeptical crowd. I had some great meals at Donna's restaurants in the (distant) pass, but more recent experiences (going back to a couple of years before Galileo closed) have been consistently disappointing. I do miss the Grill, though, and the new location will be too far to walk at lunch.

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I met Roberto when he was 21 and the chef at Romeo and Juliet, next to the Prime Rib. I ate at the original Galileo in the current space occupied by Al Tiramisu. I had wonderful dinners there. I had some very good dinners at Galileo on 21st St. I had a great birthday dinner in the Laboratorio. I look forward to a rebirth of Roberto's original idea.

Dang. I was going to get all old-school and brag that I was the only one here who'd eaten at the original Galileo on P, back when Roberto vaguely recognized me from the soccer games staff at Le Pavillon would play against Galileo and so I'd get free desserts and after dinner drinks...

At any rate, the one meal I had at Il Laboratorio was graced by Chef Donna working the stove like a post-adolescent line cook, as hands on and involved as it was possible to be.

For all the complaints about Bebo and Galileo, if he can recapture that spirit, we'll all be better off.

Good luck.

And I hear Joe H. is a major investor. :rolleyes:

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I agree with all the comments here. I loved the grill, wanted his other resturants to suceed and really wish he could/can get the rest of the house in order. The man has loads of talent, hopefully he (and his investors) will realize that talent needs to be combined with a strong front of the house. You know this would make a good reality show...

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For what it's worth, I talked to Chef Donna and his wife at Kaz a couple weeks back and they both confirmed that it was going to be in the Butterfield 9 space and that they were hoping to open by the end of June. He also mentioned that the Grill would not be returning, but that he had some ideas about creating something similar after the restaurant had been open for a little while and gotten its legs.

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Just to let everyone know - as of 10 AM this morning, nothing final has been signed regarding this deal. And I heard that straight from Roberto (please be considerate with your comments here, and keep in mind that there are actual people with feelings reading them).

Cheers,

Rocks.

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Any new news on the new Roberto Donna Laboratorio???

No interest in Galileo, or any/all angst about Galileo or Bebo -- just actual specific factual info about whether there's going to be a new Chef Donna place that really truly has a Laboratorio in it, and WHEN?

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It will have been three years since Galileo closed until this incarnation reopens. I would say the dining landscape in DC has changed dramatically over that period of time. We have seen DC become a benchmark dining destination within the States. We have a seen the rise of many dynamic and innovative homegrown chefs. We have been overrun by "big name chef's" looking for their slice of the pie (Ducasse, Ripert, Puck, etc.). And we have seen the economy falter.

Bring your A game.

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Hello everyone,

This is Roberto and I just want to let you know that I am getting ready to open Galileo III at the end of January if all goes well. We are in the middle of construction and it is a very exiting moment.

In the mean time I am doing cooking classes at home ( robertodonnacookingclasses.com ) and I am cooking a great 7 fishes Christmas's feast on the 17 of December . And I am offering $10.00 discount to all the DR member , you must make reservation at rdclasses@aol.com and say you are a DR member in order to take advantage of the offer. It will be nice to get to personally know you.To see menu,location,time and price go on the robertodonnacookingclasses.Com and check on schedule.

I wish all of you a great holiday season.

Ciao Roberto

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Very informative article in the Post today about Donna and it does not look good. I would even say things look worse for him than I imagined. There appear to be more court cases coming. It is so sad that he, at least outwardly, thinks that it is all blown out of proportion. I guess the good thing is that if this place ever opens he will most likely be relegated to the kitchen.

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Yes, interesting front page piece in WaPo. Should we be surprised at the vitrol voiced by ex-employees, creditors etc.? This latest venture is - what? - the umpteenth in our area he has mismanaged and fostered ill-will with patrons, staff and suppliers.

As a past customer, my uninformed sense is the acrimony and poor service flows downwards from the top.

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It is got nothing to do with mismanagement of the business. If you know your employee is not paid, your purveyors are not paid, taxes are not paid but you live in a multi-million $ castle in Mclean, this is simply taking advantage of other people and everything else.

Those unpaid people don`t care how talented Donna is. They want their money as their right.

The staff he says he already hired: Those innocent people have no idea who Donna is, they probably never heard of him, possibly out of state. Maybe during the interview Donna pulled his cards from 20 years ago showing what a success he was and just painting their eyes.

What I don`t understand is, after all this shit, there are still people out there supporting him.

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Having eaten his food, he's clearly talented as a chef. But he is completely unprepared, it seems, to handle the business end of things in a restaurant.

You would think that after 20+ years in the business he would know who to hire to take care of the business end of things.

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But he is completely unprepared, it seems, to handle the business end of things in a restaurant.

Nothing that happens in his restaurants are by accident or born of ignorance. They were intentional, and proven to be so in a court of law.

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