Monday, October 24, 2022

Wine Dinner with Legendary Chef Roberto Donna and the Wines of Amastuola in Puglia/ Italy at Roberto's Ristorante Italiano in Vienna/ Virginia, 2022

Annette and I enjoyed a great wine dinner at Roberto`s Ristorante Italiano in Vienna/ Virginia with legendary Chef Roberto Donna and the wines of Amastuola in Puglia/ Italy.

See also: 

Dinner with Legendary Chef Roberto Donna at his new Restaurant Roberto's Ristorante Italiano in Vienna/ Virginia 

Winemaker Sabrino Loffredo’s Pietracupa Wines and Chef Roberto Donna’s Food at a Winemaker Dinner at Alba Osteria in Washington DC, Italy/USA 


Chef Roberto Donna and Italian importer Maurizio Farro continue their series of Sunday wine dinners at 5 pm on October 9 with a celebration of the Puglia wines of Amastuola. It’s a stunning estate in Italy’s deep South that’s making head-turning wines. 

The cost of the five course dinner with five matched wines is $105 per person plus tax and tip. You can reserve your seats via the restaurant’s website at or by calling the restaurant at 202-257-0168. If you have any special seating requests (such as having different groups at the same table), please call Nancy at the restaurant as well. 

Roberto Donna

Chef Roberto Donna moved at about the same time (in the early 1980s) to the USA as Annette and I did, he from Northern Italy, we from the Frankfurt region in Germany. 

Picture: Christian Schiller and Chef Roberto Donna in 2014. See: Winemaker Sabrino Loffredo’s Pietracupa Wines and Chef Roberto Donna’s Food at a Winemaker Dinner at Alba Osteria in Washington DC, Italy/USA

Rather quickly Roberto became one of the leading chefs of the Washington DC area, owning restaurants like Galileo and I Matti and several others, with about 500 employees. But in 2004 Roberto's fortunes turned sour. Galileo's parent company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. 

Roberto had to struggle with financial and legal issues since then. Fortunately he did not go under. He is still cooking at the highest level. 

His latest adventure is Roberto's Ristorante Italiano on Church Street in Vienna/ Virginia, owned by Roberto's wife, Nancy Sabbagh, who also runs the service. 

Yesterday evening it was as it has always been at Roberto's restaurants: relaxed, exquisite food, top Italian wines and excellent service, like in a trattoria in Turino in the Piemonte area where Roberto spent the first 20 years of his life.

Chef Roberto Donna (from wikipedia) 

Roberto Donna is an Italian chef and restaurateur in Washington D.C. 

Donna was born in Turin, Italy, where he enrolled in culinary school at the age of 13. He came to the United States at the age of 19, working in an Italian restaurant on K Street in Washington, D.C. In 1984, Donna opened Galileo in Dupont Circle, which was an immediate success. The restaurant only seated 50, and in the early days, even Vice-President George H.W. Bush could not secure a last-minute reservation. Donna and his partner Savino Recine opened more casual trattorias, Primi Piatti, and then I Matti, serving pizza and pasta. 

By the end of the 1990s, Donna's empire grew to 12 restaurants, including Il Radicchio, Pesce, and Barolo. In 1999, he expanded Galileo into a neighboring space and opened a restaurant-within-a-restaurant, Il Laboratorio del Galileo, serving multi-course meals in a small (25-30 seats) dining room, with a glass-walled "showcase" kitchen. 

Donna published a cookbook, Cooking in Piedmont, in 1996. 

Donna won the 1996 James Beard Foundation Award for Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic. The next year, Galileo was named one of the "10 Best Italian Restaurants in America" by Wine Spectator. The Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington recognized Donna as the "Chef of the Year" in 1990, and the "Restaurateur of the Year" in 1995. Donna was invited to Rome in 1996 to receive the Insegna del Ristorante Italiano, awarded by the Italian Government in recognition of serving the best authentic Italian food outside Italy. 

In 2004, Donna's company declared bankruptcy and his restaurants began to close; Galileo closed in 2006, and he had no restaurants to his name when Bebo Trattoria closed in 2009. Donna was prosecuted for failing to pay taxes at Bebo, and in 2010, Donna pled guilty to felony embezzlement, receiving a five-year suspended sentence on condition of probation, good behavior, and restitution. Donna and his business partners still faced several civil lawsuits when he returned to the kitchen with the opening of Galileo III in October 2010. The restaurant closed abruptly after less than one year.

Amastuola (

Initially owned by the Prince of Taranto - Giovanni Antonio Orsini, Masseria Amastuola is located in San Vito del Pizzo, a beautiful Italo - Greek abbey in Taranto, Italy. The winery is a certified producer of high-quality organic wines, made with ancient traditions, clubbed with modern technology and innovative ideas. The wines of Masseria Amastuola have won several prizes and awards at national and international level.

The Masseria farm has traces of ancient times, dates back to 15th century. Over the years, the ownership of the winery has been passed to many a few families. Initially, it was owned by D’Afflitto, and Andrea D’Afflitto restored the lands and buildings of the winery in the early 1700s. She modernized the structures, built new outbuildings, established jazzi – a masonry fencing system, built trappeto – an Apulian oil mill, and cultivated new crops. Today, the Kaiku group of Montanaro family of Massafra owns Masseria Amastuola, and they have been managing the winery since 2003.

Maintaining the relationship between territory and nature, the Montanaro Family practices biological farming techniques and produces a broad range of rich-quality vines. The family cultivates world class Primitivo, Aglianico, Syrah, Merlot, and Fiano Minutolo. Masseria Amastuola also grows Malvasia, Chardonnay, Malvasia, and Sauvignon Blanc and in total produce delicious red, white and rosé wines, along with superb dessert and sparkling wines under the Puglia IGP status. Masseria Amastuola also consists of a charming winery resort, comprising of 18 rooms and suites to enjoy. The suites, with a private terrace and overlooking windows, are well-furnished with modern designs and sophisticated features. It also offers various exclusive and deluxe rooms that tell a lot about ancient stories and culture of the Puglia.

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