Celebrating 50 Delicious Years

Best benefit dinner ever celebrates H-Town's iconic restaurateur, king of fine dining

Best benefit dinner ever celebrates H-Town's iconic restaurateur

News, Shelby, Tony's 50th, Nov. 2015, Tony Vallone
Tony Vallone celebrates his namesake restaurant's 50th anniversary. © Michelle Watson/Catchlight Group
News, Shelby, Tony's 50th, Nov. 2015, Scott McLean, Kate McLean, Paul Loyd
Scott McLean, Tony's chef Kate McLean, Paul Loyd. © Michelle Watson/Catchlight Group
News, Shelby, Tony's 50th, Nov. 2105 Ileana Trevino, Donna Vallone, Kristina Somervile
Ileana Trevino, Donna Vallone, Kristina Somerville. © Michelle Watson/Catchlight Group
Tony's at 50 Nick Florescu and Dominique Sachse
Nick Florescu, Dominique Sachse. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLight Group
Tony's at 50
At least a dozen flaming, salt-encrusted Gulf red snappers were paraded throughout the restaurant. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLight Group
News, Shelby, Tony's 50th, Nov. 2015 Dan Wolterman, Lori Wolterman
Dan Wolterman, Lori Wolterman. © Michelle Watson/Catchlight Group
News, Shelby, Tony's 50th, Nov. 2015, Alistair Blair, Alex Blair, Edward Ziegler, Rini Ziegler
Alistair Blair, Alex Blair, Edward Ziegler, Rini Ziegler. © Michelle Watson/Catchlight Group
Tony's at 50 Soraya McClelland, Scott McClelland
Soraya McClelland, Scott McClelland, Laurie Krohn, Tracy Krohn. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLight Group
Tony's at 50
Julie Voss, Craig Cordola, Allison Cordola. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLight Group
News, Shelby, Tony's 50th, Nov. 2015, ice cream bombe
The ice cream bombe with sparklers, height of the celebration. © Michelle Watson/Catchlight Group
Tony's at 50 Margaret Alkek Williams
Margaret Alkek Williams, Nancy Ames. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLight Group
Tony's at 50 exterior
The porte cochere transformed into a swank cocktail lounge, Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLight Group
Tony's at 50
Dr. Yvonne Cormier, Rufus Cormier. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLight Group
News, Shelby, Tony's 50th, Nov. 2015 Karen Freedman, David Greenberg
Karen Freedman, David Greenberg. © Michelle Watson/Catchlight Group
Tony's at 50
Fayez Sarofim, Susan Sarofim. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLight Group
News, Shelby, Tony's 50th, Nov. 2015, Medallions of Veal with caviar
Medallions of veal with Ossetra caviar. Photo by Jeremy Parzan
News, Shelby, Tony's 50th, Nov. 2015 Shara Fryer, Barry Silverman
Shara Fryer, Barry Silverman. © Michelle Watson/Catchlight Group
Tony's at 50
Sam Malone, Denise Malone. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLight Group
News, Shelby, Tony's 50th, Nov. 2015 Bryan Glass, Mari Trevino, Miguel Trevino
Bryan Glass, Mari Trevino, Miguel Trevino. © Michelle Watson/Catchlight Group
News, Shelby, Tony's 50th, Nov. 2015 John Daugherty, Cathy Marion, Jesse Marion
John Daugherty, center, Cathy Marion, Jesse Marion. © Michelle Watson/Catchlight Group
News, Shelby, Tony's 50th, Nov. 2015 Nina Hendee, Edd Hendee, Grace Kim
Nina Hendee, Edd Hendee, Grace Kim. © Michelle Watson/Catchlight Group
News, Shelby, Tony's 50th, Nov. 2015 cannelloni
Traditional Tony's cannelloni from the '70s menu. Photo by Shelby Hodge
News, Shelby, Tony's 50th, Nov. 2015, Tony Vallone
News, Shelby, Tony's 50th, Nov. 2015, Scott McLean, Kate McLean, Paul Loyd
News, Shelby, Tony's 50th, Nov. 2105 Ileana Trevino, Donna Vallone, Kristina Somervile
Tony's at 50 Nick Florescu and Dominique Sachse
Tony's at 50
News, Shelby, Tony's 50th, Nov. 2015 Dan Wolterman, Lori Wolterman
News, Shelby, Tony's 50th, Nov. 2015, Alistair Blair, Alex Blair, Edward Ziegler, Rini Ziegler
Tony's at 50 Soraya McClelland, Scott McClelland
Tony's at 50
News, Shelby, Tony's 50th, Nov. 2015, ice cream bombe
Tony's at 50 Margaret Alkek Williams
Tony's at 50 exterior
Tony's at 50
News, Shelby, Tony's 50th, Nov. 2015 Karen Freedman, David Greenberg
Tony's at 50
News, Shelby, Tony's 50th, Nov. 2015, Medallions of Veal with caviar
News, Shelby, Tony's 50th, Nov. 2015 Shara Fryer, Barry Silverman
Tony's at 50
News, Shelby, Tony's 50th, Nov. 2015 Bryan Glass, Mari Trevino, Miguel Trevino
News, Shelby, Tony's 50th, Nov. 2015 John Daugherty, Cathy Marion, Jesse Marion
News, Shelby, Tony's 50th, Nov. 2015 Nina Hendee, Edd Hendee, Grace Kim
News, Shelby, Tony's 50th, Nov. 2015 cannelloni

The high and the mighty, the old guard, A-listers and newly-minted millionaires arrived at Tony's Wednesday night in waves of Mercedes Benzes, Jaguars and a Rolls Royce or two, all lining up to pay tribute to iconic restaurateur Tony Vallone. The stellar occasion was the celebration of a half century of fine dining under the revered banner of Tony's.

In a world in which eateries are short-lived more often than not, this 50th anniversary ranks as the restaurant equivalent of a uranium half life

Vallone and his wife, Donna, welcomed a sellout throng of 320 (with a wait list of more than 200) as they entered the porte cochere rotunda which on this night was transformed into a glamorous cocktail lounge wrapped in crystal beading and peppered with vast bouquets of red roses and red crystal chandeliers. Air kisses and proseco flowed.

While paying homage to the city's leading restaurateur, the well-heeled group raised more than $400,000 for Memorial Hermann Life Flight as Vallone chose to make the milestone celebration a charitable event. Among guests were Memorial Hermann leadership including Dan Wolterman, Craig Cordola and Ileana Trevino.

"This evening means everything in the world to me," Vallone told Culturemap. "I don't know how we got here so quickly, 50 years. But I'm excited. I'm thrilled. Ready to do another 50."

Before the five course dinner was served (each course representing a decade in Tony's repertoire), Vallone shared a bit of history with the guests including the roles of Gerald Hines and the late gossip columnist Maxine Mesinger in helping put his restaurant on the map.

As for the dinner itself, Vallone noted, "We wanted to do something more nostalgic tonight with a little bit of modernization." 

The menu — a mouth-watering cannelloni nod to the '70s; the flamboyant whole salt-crusted Gulf red snapper with Barolo ristretto from the over-the-top '80s; medallions of Provimi veal with Hudson Valley foie gras and Ossetra caviar reminiscing the '90s; 21st century roasted butternut squash carpaccio with Alba white truffles, pecorino, toasted pumpkin seed and mint pesto; and, for dessert, the grand bombe glacé and mignardises (macarons).

Applause, applause for chef Kate McLean and restaurant staff for creating a delicious, flawless dinner, served perfectly to each diner in the rich sea of guests that completely filled Tony's.

Every table was loaded with VIPs making each seat a primo position.

Among those raising their glasses in toast to Vallone were Janiece Longoria and Steve Lasher, Lisa and David Greenberg, Bill King, Dominique Sachse and Nick Florescu, Sheridan and John Eddie Williams, Hannah and Cal McNair, Joanna and Brad Marks, Nancy Ames and Danny Ward, Marshall Lightman, Laura and Dave Ward, Rose and Harry Cullen and family, Ann and Kenny Friedman, Fredell and Bobby Deutser, Penny and Paul Loyd, Margaret Alkek Williams, Susan and Fayez Sarofim and Soraya and Scott McClelland.

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