remembering Vincent Mandola

Prominent Houston restaurateur Vincent Mandola passes away at 77

Prominent Houston restaurateur Vincent Mandola passes away at 77

Vincent Mandola of Nino’s and Vincent’s, holding the Grand Prize, the Ciabatta loaf.
Vincent Mandola, seen here in 2013, with a loaf of ciabatta. Photo by Paul Galvani

A member of one of Houston's most prominent restaurant families has died. Vincent Mandola passed away Sunday, July 19, after suffering a heart attack, his family announced on Facebook. He was 77.

Known to friends and family as Bubba, Mandola owned a trio of Montrose's most-enduring Italian restaurants: Nino's, Vincent's, and Grappino di Nino. He also founded Pronto Cucinino, a fast-casual concept with two locations.

Mandola's brothers established some of Houston's most popular restaurants. Tony Mandola owns Tony Mandola's Gulf Coast Kitchen in Montrose. Damian Mandola founded beloved Midtown restaurant Damian's as well as Pesce with his nephew, Johnny Carrabba, the owner of Carrabba's, Mia's Table, and Grace's. Mandola's cousin, the late Frankie B. Mandola, founded Ragin Cajun and, along with his cousin Bubba Butera, purchased Damian's. 

In a note posted to the Mandola's Deli Facebook page, Frank Mandola paid tribute to his cousin Vincent and encouraged people to take precautions against COVID-19. Vincent Mandola was diagnosed with the disease in June.

Brennan's owner Alex Brennan-Martin tells CultureMap that he sought to emulate Vincent Mandola. 

"Vincent was a gentleman and fine restaurateur who I long admired," Brennan-Martin writes in an email. "I always enjoyed our visits when I had to have my meatball and spaghetti fix at Nino’s, him wearing always his crisp white shirt and warm smile. He and his family were in my restaurant not that long ago and sadly I missed him. He epitomized what it means to be a restaurateur and family man. I hope they put that on my marker."

Those who wish to pay their final respects may attend at public visitation on July 22 from 5 to 8 pm at Geo. H. Lewis & Sons funeral home, 1010 Bering Dr., the Houston Chronicle reports.