Passion for hospitality

At Tony’s, a new Italian steakhouse inside The J House Hotel, no one leaves a stranger.

When you walk into the door of Tony’s, a recently opened Italian steakhouse, one of the first things you might notice, aside from the pleasing aromas wafting from the kitchen, is a sign that reads, “Hello, my friend.”

It doesn’t take long to realize that sign is more than just a decorative piece. It’s a genuine greeting. 

Launched by Tony Capasso, a veteran of the restaurant business who spent nearly two decades at popular Italian eatery Valbella!! in Greenwich, the new restaurant sits at the foot of The J House Hotel, a modern boutique hotel in the Riverside neighborhood of Greenwich.

The restaurant’s sleek dining room, with hardwood floors and industrial fixtures, is dotted with leafy trees that nearly reach the ceiling. Red accents lend a romantic flair, along with a white marble-top bar lined with leather chairs that overlook a wood-burning open hearth.

Upon our arrival, we find that Capasso is both charismatic and welcoming, a hospitality professional in every sense of the phrase. During a large portion of our evening, he can be found bouncing between tables, stopping to strike up conversations with strangers and longtime acquaintances alike.

Another staple of Capasso’s brand of hospitality is his seemingly neverending supply of trivia questions, questions he asks to every diner in his eatery. Topics range from history to sports to movies to music. What is the most recent sports movie to win the Oscar for best picture?” (“Million Dollar Baby.”) What quarterback in the Pro Football Hall of Fame has a losing record? (Joe Namath.) What was the last movie to win best picture, best director, best actor, best actress and best screenplay at the Academy Awards? (“Silence of the Lambs.”)

Executive chef Daniel Radovic, who previously worked alongside Capasso at Gabriele’s of Greenwich, proves to be as skilled in the kitchen as Capasso is on the dining room floor. His talent is evidenced in our first dish, a tasty tuna tartare with wasabi tobiko, cucumbers and avocado, adorned with crunchy waffle chips. Crisp long-stem artichokes are stuffed with lobster, crabmeat and mascarpone in another started dish and finished with a lobster sauce.

Radovic shines in one of our favorite dishes of the evening, a delectable plate of tagliatelle truffle topped with a smattering of truffle Romano cheese. One of the day’s specials, ravioli, is stuffed with melted cheese and tossed in a simply irresistible red sauce that is both light and fresh. 

We also enjoy veal rollatini, stuffed with sundried tomatoes and served atop sautéed spinach. A Colorado rack of lamb is one of the evening’s standouts, mouth-watering and covered in a Dijon mustard and panko crust that pairs perfectly with a heaping portion of garlic mashed potatoes.

I can’t pass up a side order of lobster truffle macaroni and cheese, which proves creamy and bursting with flavor. An order of Brussels sprouts with crisp pancetta and a drizzle of honey doesn’t disappoint, either.

As we sip on our coffee and enjoy bites of a creamy pistachio gelato, we flag down Capasso, unable to wait any longer to see whether our answers to the trivia questions are correct. Unfortunately, after we both give our best guesses, we learn that neither of us has answered ours correctly.

No matter, we decide. We’ll just have to study up before our next visit.

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