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Geo. H. Lewis & Sons Funeral Directors

1010 Bering Drive, Houston, TX

OBITUARY

Tony Vallone

January 3, 1945September 10, 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.

  • DONATIONS

  • Donna & Tony Vallone Family Endowment Fund University of Houston Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel & Restaurant Management (Attn: Joel Jaffe, Assistant Dean)

Services

  • Memorial Service

    Monday, September 21, 2020

    VIEW VIDEO

Memories

Tony Vallone

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Robbie Segler

September 22, 2020

Tony has immortalized the line, “You are only as good as your last meal.” Given his heartfelt belief I’d love to share with you the last meal he prepared for our family, the night of September the 9th, just hours before his passing.

We have celebrated every event imaginable at Tony's for nearly 3 decades. His ability to make these moments magical was second to none. His last night on this earth proved to be another of these magical moments.

My wife and I were celebrating our 30th wedding anniversary and I called Tony, days before, to set up a surprise wedding vow renewal. In his inimitable fashion, Tony decorated the wine cellar room with a beautiful wedding arch adorned with white roses and an amazing centerpiece for our table. He crafted an incredible meal, including the short rib tortellini, his famous flaming whole salt crusted snapper, and Donna’s delicious red velvet cake. It was all so wonderfully a Tony-esque event.

After we arrived, he came in and charmed us all. We hugged, laughed, and joked around for a while. He was in a great mood and I remember remarking how healthy he looked. At one point, my son and I went to the bathroom and saw him sitting in the kitchen, in his usual chair, lording over the entire process. He smiled and waved as we caught his glance. He was Tony to the very end. He even texted me back at 11:35pm after thanking him and Donna for an incredible night. He then went to sleep knowing how special he had made our anniversary and how grateful we were for his friendship.

He quipped that he intended “to go out with a fish in one hand and pasta in the other” which is exactly what he did. It’s not often that someone departs this earth on their own terms, doing what they love to the very end. He was a magnificent man who lived an extraordinary life, making memories for hundreds of thousands of friends, as he never met a stranger. He was an irreplaceable treasure and his beautiful soul will be dearly missed but forever remembered.

Mark Grisham

September 21, 2020

Tony, the man I will always associate with fine dining. He defined elegance.
Houston was his home, and he presided over the city with class, refinement and style. His culinary talent was equaled only by his warm heart. His legacy will shine in the lives of those he mentored.
I remember every morsel and moment.
I treasure the sparking evenings, the smiles and the flavorful memories he created. We will never forget you, Tony.
Shine on.......and on.

Roland Garcia

September 21, 2020

Karen and I are so heartbroken at the passing of our beloved Tony. It was such a beautiful memorial for him today, capturing so well the essence of Tony, not only as the pioneering restaurateur and king of fine dining, but the devoted and wonderful husband, father, mentor and friend that he was to so many. We have such fond memories of Tony and Donna, from civic events to board and committee meetings, and of course fabulous meals with Tony and Donna at their signature restaurant, Tony’s. I will always remember when Tony invited Karen and me to Naples, Italy for a trip and tour of his roots, and we talked about how much fun it would be, but we never got around to picking a date. When I think of Naples, I think of Tony. I will go there some day and look to the sky. We love you and miss you Tony, rest well my friend, the angels are in for one heck of a meal!

James Brock

September 21, 2020

Dear Donna and the rest of the Vallone Family - Angela and I thank you for allowing us to share memories of Tony today. We are in Los Angeles, but our hearts were in Houston. I miss Tony very much, and the depth of my sadness at his loss makes me understand how much you all must miss him. After all, I knew him for only 6 years ... but what a relationship, one I will cherish for as long as I live.

Donna, we look forward to seeing you when we visit Houston. Until then, we will have you in our thoughts daily.

With love,

James

https://jamesabrock.com/he-was-a-friend-of-mine-farewell-tony-vallone/

Barry Silverman

September 21, 2020

A magnificent service and beautiful tribute for a person who was loved so much, by so many. He was a wonderful friend to me. I will miss him.
Sincerely
Barry Silverman

Ugo Tombolini

September 21, 2020

have been knowing Tony for over 30 years , but in the last few I was having coffee with him almost every Saturday, and he was always kind, but must of all very passionate about his food. He will always talk about what he would be serving as a special or what he had just ordered and last but no least he will be willing to make you what ever you desired. I always said there are many restaurant groups , but only one Tony specially in this time he’s to find a owner , that comes said hello to you at the table and making sure you get exactly what you want. Tony you will be missed and I’m sure you are now In Charge of heavens kitchen .
I would tell you see you soon, but I hope to have so more time on earth,
But when the time comes I hope you still serving in heaven .
La tua vita e stata piena di alte e basse, ma ricordati che non sarai mai dimenticato. A presto amico mio

Linda Debrovner

September 21, 2020

Dear Donna and family,

Sincere sympathy for the loss of your beloved Tony. He was the ultimate host, loving parent, and a valuable teacher to those in the center of Houston's development community. He shall be missed by many.

Hoping you will come to treasure the sweet memories he left behind. Love, Linda Debrovner

Lara Bell

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 friend are all there for you. Blessings to the whole family on your loss. Love you all. Lara

Luis & Maggie Gonzalez & family

September 21, 2020

Dearest Donna, Lia and family,
Please receive our deepest condolences.
May our Lord grant you His strength and peace through these difficult times.
We’re sure Tony is now enjoying God’s love and glory and he is with you at all times.
Our thoughts, prayers and love are with you and all your family.
If we can be of any help please let us know.
Please receive a huge hug with all our love.
Sincerely,
Luis , Maggie González and family.

Richard Jue “China Garden Family “

September 21, 2020

Thank you for all great family gatherings, the good times , great food and great memories, we will surely miss you, Richard Jue “China Garden “ family

FROM THE FAMILY

Learn more about the Vallone name

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