City Desk

Stick a Fork in the Old Galileo

Roberto Donna operates three separate dining areas at 1110 21st St. NW: Osteria del Galileo, Laboratorio del Galileo, and the original Galileo, which the celebrity chef opened in 1984. To the uninitiated, each space can seem as much a figment of Donna’s imagination as a legitimate, separate operation. How many diners, we wonder, have asked if they could have a table in the back room next to the open, stainless-steel kitchen (the Laboratorio)?

If things go according to plan, that problem could be history by next year. Donna is planning to remodel all three operations so that “each has its own identity,” the chef said. The plans are just in the early stages, and Donna is quick to inject, “I’m looking at all the options. Nothing is signed yet.” He has not even hired a design firm, but no matter how the remodeling plays out, it will mean a disruption to Donna’s business. The chef said his landlord is helping him find a temporary location for his dining operations; he’s just not sure which one or ones he’ll move. He may keep Galileo open or he may keep the Osteria open. Or he may keep them all open. He doesn’t know yet.

But neither Donna nor his landlord can move ahead with the renovation until a couple of things happen. Alysa Lebeau Reich, the restaurants’ director of PR and marketing, said that the law firm Dickstein, Shapiro, Morin & Oshinsky, the main tenant of the multistory structure at 21st and L streets, must first leave the building, which it apparently plans to do in the near future. Then the landlord must line up a tenant to replace the law firm and figure out what its space needs are.

As of now, plans call for the entire building to be gutted and remodeled. The building will be extended closer to the street, providing some much-needed space for the tiny Osteria and bar in the front. Donna also plans to install a de rigueur wood-burning oven and provide better access between his Laboratorio kitchen and the kitchen for the main dining room. Look for the renovations to begin, Donna said, by the end of the year.

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