It’s not just the starched white napkins. Or the accommodating maitre’d. Or the effortless preparation of the Albanello Lobster swaddled in a creamy, mushroom sauce. At Tony’s, it’s the pride and it’s instilled in every employee and every dish. Lest anyone forget, the word is written large on a banner hanging in Tony’s world-class kitchen.
Yes, Vince Bommarito, Sr. and his family have maintained a first-class culinary team admired by many and duplicated by few. What started in 1946 as Tony’s Spaghetti House, a small cafe on North Broadway, is now a world-class restaurant located within the shadow of the Arch and boasting hundreds of awards for continued excellence.
This month our group of “Dining Women” (as we call ourselves), headed downtown, having earlier made a reservation at Tony’s. Though it was mid-week, the place was full mostly with out-of-towners. Even so, Ken Bollewark, manager of the dining room and Bommarito associate for 40 years, took time to visit and talk old times with our table of four locals.
I ordered the much lauded Albanello Lobster with chunks of shellfish, mushrooms and a divine, creamy sauce served over pasta. But the Osso Bucco beckoned me as well. In the end, my friend, Anne, got the Osso Bucco with the agreement we’d share each other’s entrees.
Our charming server warned that it would take a half hour to prepare the veal shank cooked in wine and broth. No problem, we all agreed. We could easily pass the time catching up, sipping wine, and nibbling on the tasty selection of breads.
The Marrow Scoop
The Final Indulgence
When the dessert menu appeared, we selected one item to share, as we often do. Our server said the Ice Cream Pie was the most frequently ordered desserts. Hmm. . . I thought, just what does it take to make an ice cream pie? A store bought pastry crust and some Ben and Jerry’s. How could this be so special?
Was I ever surprised when a wedge of mile-high-pie was set in the center of the table! A light crumb base provided the platform for a layer of ice cream topped with a lofty mound of meringue.
Vince, Sr. refers to those eating his food as his guests. He typically visits at their tables, though now that he’s in his late 80’s, the visits are less frequent. At Tony’s you ask for the bill when you’re ready to leave. There’s no attempt to give you one earlier, because that might indicate a desire to hurry you along.
An After Dinner Treat
Lingering over coffee and dessert caused us to be among the final guests to depart. As we chatted with Ken, he offered to show us Anthony’s Bar, located in the lobby of the same building and run by James Bommarito—Vince Sr.’s son.
Though everything was closed for the evening, Ken said we could also view the snack bar, where pedestrians can grab a bite from Tony’s kitchen or self-scan a selection of quick-stop items. He noted that on nearby Broadway is the domain of another Bommarito sibling, Lucy Bommarito, who runs Tony’s A.M. Cafe, that serves freshly made soups, salads, sandwiches, and desserts.
“Anthony’s and the snack bar are in the lobby,” Ken said as we followed him along the hallway. “We can get there from this hall or take a shortcut through the kitchen.” Our eyes lit up like kids hearing the circus was in town. “Yes, definitely, we wanted to take the shortcut!”
The Kitchen Tour
How exciting to see behind the scenes of a world-class kitchen, where professional cooks work together with the precision of a well-rehearsed dance team. But we were a little late for that. When we stepped into the kitchen, they were in shutdown mode. Ken noted that everything would soon be spotlessly clean and ready for the next day—though it looked that way to us already.
Most intriguing was the metal podium and microphone, where instructions could be directed to any part of the workplace without having to physically interrupt the gastro-symphony that denotes a fine restaurant.
A Stop at Anthony’s
Tony’s. 410 Market Street. Open: Tue-Thu 5:30p-9:30p; Fri-Sat 5p-10p. Owner: Vince Bommarito, Sr. family. Dining Room Manager: Ken Bollewark.
Anthony’s Bar. 410 Market Street. Open: Lunch, Mon-Fri 11a-2p; Dinner, Tue-Sat 5p-9p. Manager: James Bommarito.