Roberto Donna, last seen helming the sinking ship at Galileo III on 14th Street NW, has been hired to take over a forthcoming restaurant owned by the Bice Group in Scottsdale, Ariz. A spokesperson for the group confirmed the chef’s hiring this afternoon.
Donna, once a protege of the influential French toque Jean-Louis Palladin, was last cooking in Washington at Galileo III until it closed in September, the victim of a bad economy and an “avalanche of negative stories” in The Post, Donna said at the time.
It’s not clear why Donna, 50, accepted the position with the Bice Group, a chain with a host of like-minded Northern Italian restaurants across the globe. But commonwealth’s attorney Theo Stamos says the chef’s new gig could affect the amount of money Donna pays to Arlington County as part of a settlement for an outstanding meals-tax bill of more than $156,000. The chef currently pays $500 a month.
Donna’s sent two payments totalling $600 last month, says Chris Sadowski, deputy treasurer for litigation in Arlington County. The chef has not paid anything yet for January.
“He’s not putting a dent in it substantially — or at all with the interest,” says Sadowski. “We’re hoping to get what we can. Maybe it’s for the best that he’s found new employment.”
The Arlington County treasurer’s office asked the commonwealth’s attorney to schedule a hearing to see if there was justification for holding steady at the current $500-a-month plan or whether the county should increase Donna’s payments. The commonwealth’s attorney agreed and set a hearing for March in Arlington Circuit Court, but Stamos says it has been rescheduled for a later date because of Donna’s new job.
The hearing could determine, Stamos says, whether Donna is “making more money than he was previously” and whether the county should seek higher restitution payments.
Incidentally, Stamos noted that Donna and his attorneys and probation officer have filed all the proper paper work so the chef could move out of the jurisdiction for the Arizona job.