Tony’s offers what is called the Greenway Express, three distinct courses which currently consists of a choice of soup of the day or salad – currently, a jump on the seasons with the Primavera Salad, roasted grapes, baby arugula, Tomino cheese, and pecan – to start. The main for it is one among a sandwich featuring Chilean salmon and Green Goddess dressing, a Roast Hen Salad flavored with honey mustard, and silky cappelletti filled with short rib, and topped with crisp garlic chips and gratings of tangy 24-month-aged Parmigiano, then a choice from a couple desserts. For a value lunch, there’s also a burger with 44 Farms beef and fries featuring its best partner, Kennebec potatoes, for $21 – and that cheekily comes with a Coke, too – plus a club sandwich and house-made chips for $15. And all this comes with a setting and level of service much beyond nearly all local restaurants.
I opted for the soup, stuffed pasta and Toasted Coconut Roulade to finish. The day’s roasted tomato soup accented with a dollop of Pugliese burrata, was a flavorful first course. Not cream-laden but substantial enough, with more complexity and pronounced notes of tomatoes than typical with the tomato soups. I sopped up the last drop ot it with some of the trio of terrific house-made breads that day: focaccia; sourdough and cranberry-studded. These were probably the highlight of the meal for me, and reminder that high-quality bread service has been a hallmark of Vallone restaurants for decades. The attractively presented pasta – a focus of Executive Chef Kate McLean’s kitchen – was very well-made, thin, and nicely complementing the tender strands of beef inside and then crunchy bits of garlic atop. More bread for a scarpetta, scarpette, was necessary, of course, to clean off the plate. The fetching-looking and fancifully named Toasted Coconut Roulade, caramelized pineapple with a small scoop of cream gelato was a nice, sweetish coda to the lunch that was much better, much more relaxed and cosseted, civilized, than usual.
Relaxed. I’ve found that Tony’s during lunch can be especially inviting and not stuffy, as I’ve felt there in years past. Service is quite friendly, even familiar in a good way, gracious and among the most attentive and polished in the city. That includes the wine service, which is excellent, even for those not wanting to spend a lot of money. There’s a list of at least seventy-five wines priced $75 and under. The wine director helped steer us toward a 2019 Morgon from Laurent Perrachon for $50 that did admirable duty with the richer dishes.
When it comes to a longer lunch, remember Tony’s, even if your not one of the ladies who lunch. Along with another table, we seemed to be about the only ones there that weren’t that day, but we were treated to views of a couple festively expansive hats, something you won’t see about many other restaurants these days.
3755 Richmond (at Timmons) 77046, (713) 622-6778