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Tail Up Goat Alum Robbie Tutlewski Is Opening a D.C. Restaurant

The Phoenix chef has previously cooked under Chris Bianco, one of the best pizza makers in the country

Chef Robbie Tutlewski cooking outdoors last month in Sedona, Arizona.
Little Donna’s/Instagram
Tierney Plumb is the editor of Eater DC, covering all things food and drink around the nation's capital.

Seasoned chef Robbie Tutlewski, who previously worked under James Beard Foundation Award-winner Chris Bianco in Phoenix, Arizona for several years, is in the early stages of opening a new restaurant in D.C. called Little Donna’s.

Tutlewski, whose most recent kitchen stint was a Tail Up Goat, tells Eater his future Italian-meets-Southwestern eatery is at least a year away. He just kicked off a search for a space, and so far he’s got two priorities: He wants to be in a rowhouse, and there needs to be a wood-fired brick pizza oven.

“What’s important to me is I am part of the neighborhood,” he says, adding he’d like the spot to be where “industry people like to eat.” He likes the “feel” of Brookland, so that’s a possibility, as are Adams Morgan and Capitol Hill, where he lives.

For now, he’s hosting a series of pop-ups and catering gigs to get the word out. The first will be held at District Space (3522 12th Street NE) on Friday, May 18 and Saturday, May 19, with a debut seven-course “Desert to District” menu (view it here).

Tutlewski clocked nearly a decade of experience while working with pizza maestro and cookbook author Bianco, helping run his growing empire of award-winning Italian eateries in Phoenix like Pane Bianco and Pizzeria Bianco. He moved to D.C. last July, and soon snapped up a gig at the Michelin-starred Adams Morgan restaurant.

“I thought I was going to wait and take it easy because I came from running six restaurants for nine years in Phoenix. It was a ton of work,” he says.

He left Tail Up Goat two months ago and immediately jump-started a business plan to bring Little Donna’s to D.C., fueled by his desire to continue cooking over an open flame. “I’ve grown to know and love wood-fired stoves and grills,” he says.

While there will be pizza on the menu, he’s not aiming to be a pizzeria, per se. He wants to offer “reasonably priced food” and make Little Donna’s — named after his mother — “something that feels good to support.” While he waits for his brick-and-mortar restaurant, he’s making the most of his roving lifestyle by testing out dishes from coast to coast.

Last month he returned to Arizona to cook a scenic outdoor dinner featuring smoked trout with pickled beets and green goddess dressing at Sedona’s Slide Rock State Park, hosted by Cloth & Flame. And for Mother’s Day, he’s hosting a four-course dinner at Richmond’s rustic Sub Rosa Bakery. The tentative menu calls for hand-pulled mozzarella, asparagus, broccolini. spring onions and lemon gremolata and crispy potato gnocchi with clam and mussel ragout, smoked blue fish, and ramps.