Tony Vallone
1945 - 2020
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Tony Vallone
1945-2020
Tony Vallone, legendary Houston restaurateur, passed away peacefully at his home on Thursday, the 10th of September 2020, in Houston, Texas. Tony was born on the 3rd of January 1945, in Houston and was raised by his loving grandmother, Maria Aiello Vallone. Tony was a second generation Italian-American, and his passion for all things Italian began at an early age. He was introduced to the kitchen by his Neapolitan grandmother, and from there, his love affair with cooking began.
From his early days in 1965 at Tony's Restaurant on Sage, to the more upscale, fine dining days on Post Oak, Tony changed the dining landscape of Houston forever. In 2005, he moved his flagship restaurant to its current location at Greenway Plaza, trading the more opulent décor for a fresher, more contemporary feel. For 55 years, Tony wined and dined local Houstonians, out-of-towners, movie stars like Sophia Loren, musicians like Luciano Pavarotti, dignitaries, and almost every U.S. President since LBJ. With his ability to source the highest quality ingredients in the world, his attention to detail, and his "fine dining but friendly" motto, Tony was able to make Houstonians feel like the world was at their feet. Today, Tony's restaurant and Catering remain at the forefront of the Houston dining scene.
In addition to his flagship restaurant, Tony owned and operated many other notable restaurants in Houston: Anthony's, Caffé Bello, Ciao Bello, Grotto, La Griglia, Vallone's, Los Tonyos, and Tony's Ballroom. Tony was an active member in the Houston community, serving on the boards of Boys and Girls Country, Memorial Hermann Foundation, Houston Methodist Hospital Foundation, UT MD Anderson Cancer Center Board of Visitors, and the Advisory Board of the Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management (Emeritus).
Although Tony the restaurateur was elegant and formal, Tony the man was much more casual. He loved the simple things and would often be found at home, watering his plants out back in his favorite white t-shirt, Italian music playing in the background, and pasta cooking on the stove. He was a man of routine from his daily work schedule to his Monday and Wednesday lunch bunches and his Saturday coffee with friends. Tony never met a stranger and loved to host his friends and family in his home. His doors were open to everyone, and he would welcome you with a big smile and an even bigger hug. Holidays at Tony and Donna's were legendary. Those lucky to experience them will forever hold memories of big family gatherings filled with hustle bustle, joy, warmth, laughter, cheer, Italian music, of course traditional Italian comfort food, and most of all, love.
For Tony, food may have been his passion, but family was his heart. Family wasn't just the most important thing, it was everything, and it started with his devotion to his loving wife. It was in 1981 when Tony's life changed forever by meeting his future wife Donna. Friends at first, but quickly life partners, Tony and Donna were married on February 12, 1984 and have been inseparable ever since. Their love story is one for the history books, and that love permeated their family. Together they raised 5 children, and to use dining words, their plates were always full and so were their hearts. He was their greatest mentor, devoted teacher, fiercest protector, and always their biggest fan. He was so proud of every one of his children and who they grew up to be. Tony is survived by his devoted wife, Donna; daughter Lauri Vallone Mazzini and husband, Remo; son Joseph Charles Vallone; son John Frank Vallone and wife, Carrie; daughter Lia Grace Vallone; and seven grandchildren. He is preceded in death by his son, Jeffrey Lester Vallone.
We would like to extend our sincerest gratitude towards the many talented doctors that Tony was lucky enough to also call his friends. In addition, to his loyal friends, colleagues and staff, without you, there wouldn't have been him, and we are truly humbled and grateful.
A memorial service honoring the life and legacy of Tony will be conducted at one o'clock in the afternoon on Monday, the 21st of September 2020, in the Worship Center of Second Baptist Church, 6400 Woodway Drive in Houston. (Kindly note that for the protection of all in attendance, current health and safety protocols are in place where masks and social distancing are required). For those unable to attend the memorial, a livestream will be accessible by selecting the link on Tony's online memorial tribute page at GeoHLewis.com.
Prior to the memorial, the family will have gathered for a private interment.
In lieu of customary remembrances, memorial contributions may be directed to: the Donna and Tony Vallone Family Endowment Fund, Attn: Joel Jaffe, Assistant Dean, University of Houston Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management, 4450 University Drive, Room 227, Houston, Texas 77204-3028.
Tony always said, ""You are only as good as your last meal."" By those standards and so much more, Tony left this world a better, and tastier, place.
Please visit Tony's online memorial tribute at GeoHLewis.com, where memories and words of comfort and condolence may be shared electronically with his family.




To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published in Houston Chronicle on Sep. 13, 2020.
MEMORIAL EVENTS
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Memories & Condolences
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16 entries
September 21, 2020
Donna, our thoughts are with you and your family. A funny story that stands out shows how Tony could always solve a cooking crisis. It was when you and Tony, along with some others, came to our house for pizza. I was terrified at the thought of cooking for Tony, so I worked hard on my 48-hour dough fermentation, finally allowing it to sit in the quiet microwave for its final rise. An unnamed resident in our home needed to time a 5-minute task, and accidentally started a 5-minute cook instead of a 5-minute timer.

My dough was ruined, a sloppy mess. I ran out and bought pizza balls at a pizzeria. When Tony arrived, he said "Why did you do that?? We could have made dough in an hour," and I know he could have.

He will never leave my memory.
Charles Bracht
Friend
September 21, 2020
Donna, Lia, Lauri and family-
I am so so sorry for your loss. You all are in my deepest prayers and thoughts. Lia and Lauri- I lost my mom five years ago and I promise you your good days will soon outweigh the bad. You will feel your sweet dad around you- you will come to recognize little things that stop you in your tracks because you know if was him. Love you girls.
Donna- I pray for you and support you and all I can say is God bless you. Your friends are all there for you. Blessings to the whole family on your loss. Love you all. Lara Bell
Lara Bell
Friend
September 20, 2020
Dear Donna, my thoughts and prayers are with you and your family
Love you,
Patty Herrera-Parish
Patty Herrera-Parish
Friend
September 20, 2020
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Billy Parish
September 19, 2020
When I was a very young man, I was at TONY'S and ordered beef filet. Tony brought me a center cut with a brown peppercorn sauce....That is still the best steak I have ever had 40 years later...You always gave your best Tony...you will be missed...RIP my friend, your work is done...
NICK Navarro
Friend
September 18, 2020
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Matthew Tessler
September 17, 2020
Many fond memories from Marion high school My thoughts and prayers go to you and your family
Sueann K Lawton
Friend
September 16, 2020
Donna, the passing of Tony is a great loss to you and your family but to the world. He was a great man respected and admired by all. It was our privilege to get to know him over the years. When we moved to Houston, Tony’s was the place to celebrate our anniversary and every year after that. So many other events celebrated there and Tony always graciously greeted us.
We will miss him and offer our heartfelt to you and your family. We keep you in our thoughts and prayers.
Yvonne and Rufus Cormier
Friend
September 16, 2020
Tony and I were students together in Signora D'Albergo's Italian class at the University of Houston. We used to walk around campus talking about our dreams and goals and our current financial straits. Tony mentioned that he would have to drop out of college because he did not have enough money for tuition. He also revealed that he already spoke Italian and was trying to keep it from Professora D'Albergo so he could earn one easy "A". Italian class was a high light of my university career and knowing Tony was part of it.
Dr. Carol (Ferree) Zuccone
Friend
September 15, 2020
Tony was a passionate sweet man and will be greatly missed by all. I will miss our visits my friend.
Joshua weisman.
Friend
September 14, 2020
He was the best!! We loved him always!
Much love and caring for Donna and family.
Lucy and Willie Carl
Lucy and William Carl
Friend
September 13, 2020
My deepest condolences to the entire Vallone family. My heart, full of gratitude, goes out to him.
Jen Rodriguez
Acquaintance
September 13, 2020
So kind and so generous, perceptive and willing. So memorable and wonderful.

Tony.s was a special occasion restaurant for my wife and I and we loved celebrating there. One day a cousin asked me how I liked Tony.s and I said I did, but not we did not go often, really seldom, almost never. That.s ok, he said, I.m having a party next month for some dear friends from out of town and we want you to come. Will you? Of course.

The Monday the week of the party was a regular night out since our club was closed. My mother-in-law suggested we go to Tony.s. I said, oh, we are going there this Saturday. She said she knew and that was no never mind — let’s go anyway. So we went. I suspected she wanted us to act familiar with Tony.s so we wouldn’t.t act like the country mice come to town.

The next night was our regular Mexican night with some dear friends and once we all got in the car and drove down Post Oak, the wife announced she wanted to go to Tony.s. I protested; we were there last night and we are going Saturday. That.s ok, she said.

Thursday night we were asked to dinner by some dear friends and once seated in the back seat, they announced that they wanted to surprise us and take us to Tony.s. They had made the reservation and were so excited.

I guess my mother-in-law thought I was a country bumpkin or too uncouth, and had subsidized her friends and our dinner bills, but even Tony raised his eyebrows when he saw us for the third time that week. He stopped by the table and we visited briefly.

Saturday my wife and I arrived at Tony.s for the fourth time in a week. Outside stood my cousin and Tony greeting arriving guests. The valets jumped to our doors and welcomed us by name and inquired about the things we had been doing since our last visit two days ago. The perfect host, Tony greeted us warmly and we spoke briefly, acting non-plussed at seeing us again. He was speaking charmingly, disarmingly.

Then I saw my cousin.s face. Seldom? Never? He seemed to be asking. It was all too inexplicable anyway. I didn’t.t try.

However, Tony always was generous and kind whenever we had the opportunity to visit. Always courteous and a gentleman, what a wonderful Houstonian.
Norm Wigington
Friend
September 13, 2020
Mr.Tony Vallone was the Master of the gastronomic and service!!!! Thank you for everything you teaching as we will miss you & remember you forever rest in peace. Our sincere condolences to the Vallone family .
Stephanie & Adolfo
Coworker
September 13, 2020
Dear Donna and Vallone Family - my heart aches for you for the loss of Tony. We Houstonians have truly been blessed to have Tony here, cooking for all of us, for all of these decades. May God bless you and comfort you during this very difficult time.
Wendy Korman
Friend
September 13, 2020
Tony was such a kind man & will be missed. My deepest sympathy to the family.
Jerri A Ervin
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