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Texas’ Most Famous Italian-Americans Get a Centerstage Moment — Houston Restaurant Pioneer Johnny Carrabba’s Family Legacy Is Highlighted

Galveston Plays a Special Part In This $650,000 Night

BY // 03.29.23
photography Dave Rossman

What: The Bryan Museum “La Dolce Vita” Gala

Where: In the museum dedicated to the history of Texas and the American West

Mise en scène: For two consecutive nights the museum and its supporters celebrated Italian American contributions to Texas history while honoring Johnny Carrabba III and his family’s impressive legacy with the sixth annual Buck “N Ball Award.

The first evening, museum founder J.P. Bryan and Carrabba discussed the family’s legacy in an arm chair chat that took place in the museum‘s conservatory. Carrabba’s grandparents immigrated from Italy to Texas where they opened a grocery store that planted the seeds for the Johnny Carrabba Family of Restaurants. The beloved Rosie and Johnny Carrabba II were special guests, seated on the front row.

BryanMuseum126Gala Co-chairs Kate and Jim Lykes at The Bryan Museum La Dolce Vita
Gala Co-chairs Jim and Kate Lykes at The Bryan Museum’s ‘La Dolce Vita’ gala celebrating Italian-American contributions to Texas history.

On Saturday night, 270 turned out for the black tie dinner which featured popular dishes from Carrabba’s Italian Grill: Cesar salad, Chicken Bryan and cannoli for dessert. It was a festive affair that began with servings of prosecco and arias by opera singers and popular mama mia accordion tunes, all of which created a lively Italian tableau in the al fresco cocktail lounge.

For this special evening, Bryan arranged for an immersive pop-up exhibit of famous Italians who made artistic contributions to early Texas. Think Italian film director Sergio Leone, champion of the spaghetti Western and the dollars trilogy (A Fistful of Dollars, For a Few Dollars More, and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly) or Pompeo Coppini, who produced some of the most recognizable statues and monuments in the state including the Alamo Cenotaph and The Victims of the Galveston Flood.

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BryanMuseum162Rusty Hardin goofs around during the live auction at The Bryan Museum La Dolce Vita
Rusty Hardin at The Bryan Museum’s ‘La Dolce Vita’ gala celebrating Italian-American contributions to Texas history.

In another nod to Italian influences in Galveston in particular was unveiling of “Carnevale Di Venezia,” the signature mural commissioned by the George Mitchell family for the 1988 Carnevale Di Venezia themed Galveston Mardi Gras. The mural, a massive 20 feet by 40 feet, has not been seen for 35 years.

Applause, applause for chairs Kate and Jim Lykes and auction chairs D’Lisa and John Johnston, who guided the celebration to $650,000 in proceeds for the Bryan Museum’s educational and outreach programming.

PC Seen: Mary Jon Bryan, Macey and Mayes Middleton, Angela and Craig Brown,  Tena Lundquist Faust and Tyson Faust, Tama Lundquist, Dr. Peter Farrell, Meredith and Shane McAuliffe,  Melissa and Matt Murphy, Tissy and Rusty Hardin, Sandy and Mike Pontello, Andrea and John Bryan, Barbara and Lance McKnight, and Dianne McDonough and Fred Burns.

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