Tony's Is Back

Revered Restaurant Reopens In Clayton

Article by Julie Brown Patton

Photography by Carol Green The Graceful Lens

Originally published in Clayton City Lifestyle

Many are celebrating the return of a St. Louis culinary institution -- from Tony’s Spaghetti House to St. Louis 'best of the best' fine-dining icon.

After relocation explorations and pandemic-prompted delays, Tony's recently reopened for lunch and dinner at a Centene Plaza site. Third-generation family owner and Tony's president, James Bommarito, vows to continue Tony’s signature tableside service and exquisite menu at this new Clayton spot. This is the restaurant's third overall location. 

"It's exciting. I grew up in Clayton, and it's an honor to have the opportunity to be located in one of finest constructed buildings in St. Louis, certainly one of the best in the Midwest," says James, who worked with New York firm Bentel & Bentel Architects to execute his vision of classiness for the new location.

“Centene Plaza, in Clayton, the St. Louis County seat of government and leading business center, is the only place we considered to relocate. As my dad would say, we will continue to earn our stars with every guest at every meal," he adds.

The energetic, inspirational ambiance of the new 8,500-square-feet setting combines the charm of its former downtown locale's photos of famous St. Louisans with Andy Warhol pop art images, plus the freshness of a large, commissioned mural created by Los Angeles-based artist and sculptor America Martin. Titled “James’ Flowers,” the mural anchors the main dining room. Cherry wood, textured glass and stone steps envelop diners in warm tones, echoed by white tablecloths, custom furniture, golden light and adorned floral arrangements. 

To increase the health safety of guests and staff, a state-of-the-art temperature scanning device was installed at the entrance. "We also built our own bakery," adds James. 

Anthony’s Bar, with a separate entrance on Hanley, serves lunch and dinner on the second floor of Tony’s restaurant. The bar staff offers valet parking during lunch hours. 

How Tony's Started -- A Family Success Story

The Bommarito dining story began with the family’s spaghetti factory and a small café on North Broadway, owned by Anthony "Tony" Bommartio Sr. Patriarch Tony passed away just three years after opening the restaurant and Vincent Bommarito Sr. took over the family operation while completing his senior year at St. Louis University High School. Anthony Bommarito Jr. joined his brother and the two were partners for 25 years.

They turned the famed spaghetti house into Tony’s Steak House, serving breakfast and lunch. The restaurant eventually grew into six connected buildings. 

When Vince Sr. took over his father’s restaurant business in 1946, he says he envisioned that Tony’s would become the finest Italian restaurant in St. Louis and one of the best in the nation. He was right. Legendary Vince, who passed away in 2019, managed every detail of Tony’s every day. Under his watch, Tony’s was honored with a bevy of awards, including the AAA 4 Diamond Award and the Mobil 5 Star Award, as well as the Levee Stone Award.

In 1971, Anthony Jr. also opened Anthony’s Restaurant at 4th and Market Streets.

In 1992, St. Louis city officials purchased the Tony’s property to develop the Convention Center and the Dome. Vince then moved Tony’s restaurant into the Equitable Building. 

Eccellente Menu And Service

While at Tony's, guests may be heard exclaiming in Italian buonissimo (very good) or squisito (exquisitely delicious).

Lunch menu items include Tony's house-made salad with salami and provolone; tenderloin; and baked scallops. Dinner options range from tartare of beef tenderloin, penne with asparagus and wild mushrooms and roasted salmon to stuff quail, filet mignon and prime sirloin. The vast wine list spans 275 selections from topnotch producers, and is available by the bottle, half bottle and the glass. Delightful desserts include chocolate tortes, crème brulee, granita, biscotti, lemon ricotta cheesecake and bananas flambé prepared at the table.

The staff includes veteran chefs Pete Fagan and Gerard Germain, who've been with the restaurant for 30 and 40 years, respectively; maitre d’ Ken Bollwerk, who's been there for 46 years; head bartender Donny Bonds, who served there for 43 years, and Helen Fletcher, longtime pastry chef.

Tony's accommodates 64 diners, while the new Anthony’s Bar upstairs seats 40. The patio, scheduled to open in July, seats 38. For information about hosting an event or private party at Tony’s, contact their special events department. 

Tony’s hours:  Monday through Thursday 5-10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday 5-10:30 p.m. || Anthony’s Bar hours:  Monday through Thursday 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. as well as 5-10 p.m.; and Fridays and Saturdays 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5-10:30 p.m. Both restaurants are closed Sundays. Tony’s also offers take-out.  

105 Carondelet Plaza, Clayton

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