Ohead hen Kate McLean Back in Tony’s kitchen as executive chef and partner in February, she had some fresh ideas, including celebrating April Fool’s Day, the day in 2015 then-Mayor Annise Parker said Tony Vallone Day in Houston. And so it was that last Friday night (April 1), Houston’s fine-dining restaurant was packed with fans of the late chef/restaurateur as well as the cuisine that for more than 50 years has pleased the city’s connoisseurs.
It was an evening celebrating Houston’s original master of fine dining and the 57 years he helmed the acclaimed restaurant that has long been the only place in town to see and be seen. In honor of Tony Vallone, Donna Vallone and McLean orchestrated a festive evening featuring many of the late restaurateur’s favourites.
Guests were greeted with shots of Santa Margherita Prosecco and martini glasses with Hangar One Vodka while the six-piece band The moment filled the entire dining room with rocking sounds.
Surprises were promised and the team kept its promises. Guests were treated to first helpings of caponata in Reggiano cups, followed by Tony’s famous flaming salt-crusted red snapper with Barolo wine sauce. For the presentation, servers paraded through the open dining room carrying platters of flaming fish, guests cheering. From there, diners had a choice of entrees, including Long Island roast duck, snails, and bone marrow. In the end, the lucky diners had a choice of Tony’s favorite desserts – apricot soufflé or tiramisu.
As the guests dined, there were many memories of the good times spent at Tony’s house. Barbaric and Charles Hurwitz recalled the great late-night meals, usually after a black-tie gala, of French toast and the crispiest bacon on the planet. CEO of the Houston Association of Realtors Bob Hale shared stories of HAR‘s annual dinner, a tradition that lives on, when the whole restaurant is filled with realtors and agents. Plastic surgeon Dr. Fred Aguilar remembered the special dinner that he and his wife Kelly housed in Tony’s intimate vinotheque, the perfect place to open his precious bottle of a 1970 Château d’Yquem.
The Vallone family filled a long table, including Lauri and Remo Mazzini, Lia Vallone, Donna Vallone, and Carrie and John Vallon.
PC Viewed: Van and David GreenbergBetty and Manny Leal, Sheree and Norman Frede, Danielle Ellis, Denise and Sam Malone, Janeen and Julian Fertitta, Anna and Scott McLean, Tim Wilson, Elizabeth and Alan Stein, Donae and Rob Chromostaand architect Chafik Rifaatwho designed the restaurant.