Just think of all the beef tenderloin, the fine Bordeaux and the Grand Marnier soufflés that have been consumed since Tony Vallone opened the doors on his first restaurant on Sage Road in 1965. And consider all the culinary and social history that was made in the Post Oak location and the fun that has been waged in the most recent Tony's incarnation on Richmond Avenue.
That rich legacy of fine food and even finer times was celebrated in style Friday night at the Omni Houston Hotel where the Galleria Chamber of Commerce honored Donna and Tony Vallone at the eighth annual Texas Legends gala. April 1 marks the 45th anniversary of Vallone's iconic restaurant, no small feat in an industry that sees 80 percent of all new endeavors crash within the first year.
The hotel ballroom was packed with more than 400 Tony's loyalists, friends and family. Most notable among those long-time friends was food writer and columnist John Mariani, who flew in from his base in New York to pay tribute to the man who has been tempting him with gourmet delicacies for more than two decades.
"From the time I've known him," Mariani said, "Tony has been not just the premiere restaurateur in the city, almost by default in terms of fine dining, but I think he is somebody who year-by-year, decade-by- decade has really moved the quality level higher and higher in this town. I'm definitely proud of all that he has accomplished not just personally but also professionally."
Joining in salute to the Vallones were Lisa and David Greenberg, Janiece Longoria and Steve Lasher, Patsy and Greg Fourticq, Melinda and Norman Berkman, Ileana and Michael Trevino, Arlene and Marshall Hoffman, all of the Vallone children and grandchildren, gala chair Kathryn Mumaw, honorary chairs Betty and Mike Tapick and Galleria Chamber president Don Sweat. Long-time Tony's fan Sam Malone emceed the evening.