They reached an undisclosed settlement agreement that covers custody — they have a teenage son as well as an adult daughter — and the distribution of their properties, according to court documents. Neither immediately replied to requests for comment.
Fabio Trabbochi confirmed the divorce in an emailed statement Tuesday in which he said “nothing will change in the restaurants” and that the couple will continue to work together.
“Maria will continue to play a critical role as our brand ambassador and will forever be a lifelong partner in both business and the family that we have raised together.”
Mentions of Maria appear to have been removed from the websites associated with the restaurants. The “about” page of the restaurant group’s website features a biography and photo of Fabio. A previous version included the couple.
Much of their brand was built on the couple’s shared vision and their combined talents — his for cooking, hers for design and hospitality.
“Their deeply-rooted respect for hard work and family tradition forms the moral and cultural foundation of their lives and work,” the website for their Spanish restaurant Del Mar once read. “Restaurants have been their way of life since they met in Washington in the ’90s. Fabio’s expertise and pursuit of perfection paired with Maria’s natural style, beauty, and grace is a winning combination.”
One friend of the couple said the split was amicable. “They are close friends and longtime business partners and that isn’t changing,” said the friend, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter. “They are both hands-on parents as well.”
After meeting at the now-shuttered restaurant Bice, the couple — she hails from Spain, he from Italy — wed in 2000. They soon made their mark on the Washington dining scene at the Ritz-Carlton in Tysons, Va., where Fabio won accolades for helming the restaurant Maestro, and Maria handled guest relations.
Their first restaurant, Fiola, opened downtown in 2011 in the former Bice space, with Fabio in the kitchen and Maria acting as the de facto maitre d’. Casa Luca, another Italian spot named after the couple’s son, followed, as did the Georgetown waterfront location, Fiola Mare. Within the past five years, the couple opened Fiola locations in Miami and Venice, as well three Washington-area locations of Sfoglina, a more casual pasta concept (one replacing Casa Luca), and the elegant Spanish restaurant Del Mar at the Wharf.
Fiola was given a Michelin star, and Fabio collected awards, including a James Beard. Meanwhile, Maria — a constant presence in the restaurants’ dining rooms in towering heels and designer clothes — made boldface patrons feel at home. The Obamas were frequent visitors. A visit to the flagship Fiola by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) and his wife, Heidi, last year put the restaurateurs in the center of controversy, when protesters shouted at the lawmaker in the dining room. Fabio later told The Washington Post that they had received death threats following the incident.
Most high-profile diners, though, have more low-key experiences. Out-of-town celebrities, including Oprah Winfrey and Jennifer Aniston, have been spotted at their tables.
“She’s an absolutely natural talent with people. She knows how to engage people, how to make people feel a certain way,” Fabio Trabocchi said of Maria in a 2015 Post profile. “The meal we provide is certainly important; it needs to live up to expectations. But more people go to restaurants for the complete experience. And nowadays, it’s harder to find a place where you are actually made to feel comfortable, made to feel special, almost at home.”
Tim Carman contributed to this report.