Culture / Restaurants

Houston’s Restaurant Godfather Reveals His Fight with West Nile, Talks Kanye and Discusses the World’s Best Drug

BY James Brock // 12.10.16

A true culinary legend, Tony Vallone has owned Tony’s, the cafeteria for Houston’s well-bred and well-shod. For more than five decades, he’s welcomed presidents, royalty, Hollywood stars and rock ‘n’ roll legends to his table. And he’s a mean saucier.

Vallone is caught in a DUI — Discussing Under the Influence — his passion for art and Amatriciana.

What profession other than your own would you like to excel in?


Have you ever been in handcuffs?

No, and I don’t ever want to be.

Kanye (West) and Kim (Kardashian) show up in ripped jeans, T-shirts, and baseball caps. Yes or no?
If they put on a coat, then yes.

Name all the restaurants you have owned in Houston.
Grotto, La Griglia, Los Toños, Ciao Bello, Vallone’s, and Tony’s.

Favorite painter.


Favorite food.
Amatriciana sauce, with pasta.

How high have you been?
At the top of the World Trade Center in Windows on the World.

Favorite bird.
The peacock.

Real-life heroes.
Gerald Hines. And my grandmother, Maria.

Favorite poet.
Robert Frost.

The best meal you’ve ever had.
Many at my grandmother Maria’s table.

Most beloved expletive.

What are you most likely to be arrested for?
Trying to procure a work of art.

If there could be one building in the world only, which one would you choose?
The opera house in Palermo.

Favorite novels.
The Godfather and The Chosen.

What you do to relax.
Listen to music. And garden.

Favorite drug.
Pasta (and espresso).

Favorite word.
Wonderful (as in Donna).

Profession you’d least like to do.
Surgeon. I can butcher, but I would not like to cut a human.

Favorite film and actor.
The Godfather is the film. I have two favorite actors: Sophia Loren and Marcello Mastroianni.

Most life-altering experience.
West Nile disease.

Quality that should define a man.

Quality that should define a woman.

Quality that should define a pasta.
Pasta should sing to one’s inner self.

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