ST. LOUIS, Mo. — Vincent Bommarito Sr., a man who championed St. Louis and was called the “Restaurateur of Our Age,” has passed away. He was 88.
Fine dining, elegance, and being treated like royalty was the standard Bommarito set at Tony's in downtown St. Louis.
His father, Anthony Bommarito, passed away three years after opening Tony’s in 1946. Vincent, who was then in his senior year at St. Louis University High School, took over. He had been at the helm for over 60 years.
Qui Tran, owenr of Nudo House restaurant, said Vincent Bommarito supported him and his mother when they opened the first Vietnamese restaurant in St. Louis.
"You can't talk about how much they have done for the community," said Qui Tran, owner of Nudo House. "He's lead the way for people like me and my mom and all of us. They paved the way."
Those who knew him said Mr. Bommarito was a man of charm who could make you feel like his best friend.
Kevin Nashan, now a nationally-acclaimed chef who worked for Vincent Sr., said Bommarito gave so many people opportunities. He called Bommarito a pioneer who was all about precision and detail. He said Bommarito wanted guests to remember their experience forever.
"One word sums up Vince: legend. He set up so many people who own and operate restaurants today. So many people learned at Tony's. He was special; one of a kind," Nashan said.
Vincent led the business through changes that have “done in” most restaurants. In 1955, Tony's won the Holiday Award, the most prestigious award at the time. After that came the Mobil Star awards and the AAA Diamond awards.
The acclaim wasn't by chance. Rather it was the work ethic, attitude, and passion that Vincent Bommarito brought to the job every day. Whether it was a customer's needs or names, he knew them.
St. Louis Magazine honored Tony’s as Restaurant of the Year in 2014. They wrote at that time that, “Tony’s is our Restaurant of the Year. In St. Louis, Vince Bommarito is the Restaurateur of Our Age.”
This is a selection of their article on Tony’s:
“Other restaurants have food of this caliber. Presentations elsewhere are as artful. There are others where the service approaches the seamlessly professional level of this one, where the atmosphere is comparable. No other restaurant, though, has—or is probably going to have—Vince Bommarito. He is what makes Tony’s—the man who’s elevated this downtown landmark to its legendary status. He is the soul of this extraordinary place.”