“Esquire” Names Roberto Donna Chef of the Year

The controversial Italian chef is reemerging in the spotlight.
Roberto Donna wins (back) points for his work in the kitchen at Al Dente. Photograph by Scott Suchman.
Roberto Donna wins (back) points for his work in the kitchen at Al Dente. Photograph by Scott Suchman.

It’s been quite a week for Washington dining and drinking
spots

in the national press.
Esquire just posted its annual roundup of Best New
Restaurants
.

Sadly there’s not a single DC eatery among the top 15 (Bon Appétit disagrees),
but one well-known face made the list:
Roberto Donna, who clinched Chef of the Year
for his recent reemergence at Al
Dente

(formerly La Forchetta) in Upper Northwest.

Critic
John Mariani notes in his
writeup

that Donna, “despite being one of America’s greatest chefs . . .
had a habit of leaving
restaurants before the paint dried.” There’s no mention of why
Donna departed said
restaurants (multiple
lawsuits
,

perhaps?), among them the original
Galileo

that put him—and high-end Italian food in Washington—on the
map, Bebo
Trattoria
,

and Galileo
III
. Maybe

Al Dente is the official new era that Donna has been striving
for. Mariana marvels
that “he’s cooking his pants off, serving dishes so deceptively
simple they seem like
sleight of hand.”

Check out the issue when it hits on the stands on October 16 for a “classic” recipe
from the Italian toque.

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