January 2005: Galileo

Three years ago, the energetic Roberto Donna sold a few of his satellite restaurants and turned his attention to his flagship, Galileo.

Three years ago, the energetic Roberto Donna sold a few of his satellite restaurants and turned his attention to his flagship, Galileo. He built a restaurant within the restaurant, his Laboratorio, where he presides at the range, preparing prix fixe menus of a dozen or so courses for a dining room of about 25 seats. Two years ago, to boost his business at the other end of the price scale, he added a lunchtime bar menu offering pastas, pizzas, and other hearty fare for prices that average $8–a very good bargain.

This summer he took some unused space in the bar to create his Osteria del Galileo, offering at dinnertime a selection of appetizers, pastas, and other dishes from his native Piedmont at prices ranging from $4 to $12. He also began grilling at lunchtime, using the Laboratorio space or the courtyard behind the restaurant as an assembly line for wonderful sandwiches of pork, sausages, or chicken for $5.

He also changed the menu in the main dining room from an emphasis on the cooking of the Piedmont to that of Naples. In three years he has transformed the best Italian restaurant in the city into a complex of the best Italian restaurants in the city. Loyal customers eagerly await his next idea.

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