January 2019 Writer // Janelle Morrison Photographer // Courtesy of Sophisticated Living As a self-proclaimed “foodie,” I enjoy different types of dining venues and cuisine. I particularly enjoy a good steakhouse and appreciate dishes that I can’t replicate at home. Recently, I enjoyed one of the most incredible meals that has ever been prepared for me in the Indianapolis area at Tony’s of Indianapolis. So what is it about Tony’s that has me so enthralled? It starts with the vision of Tony Ricci, the owner. As a young boy, Ricci’s culinary training began in his mother’s humble kitchen back in Civitanova del Sannio, Italy. A traditional Italian family, the Riccis revered supper at the table, at which they would discuss all things in life. It was a meal, not just dinner. The culture of a quality meal and time with loved ones and friends that was instilled in Ricci by his heritage is the cornerstone upon which he has built this wonderful dining experience. The Ricci family moved from Italy to Toronto, Canada, and from Toronto to Cincinnati, Ohio. Ricci learned his exemplary work ethic from his parents who dedicated their lives to providing for Ricci and his two younger sisters. He explained that his passion for entertaining and serving comes from what he observed and learned from his own family, especially the importance of time spent together at the table. “We always talked around the table,” Ricci recalled. “Whether they were working one job or two, it seems that my mom always made time to prepare a meal.” Hospitality and quality are priorities of Ricci’s, and creating memorable culinary experiences is his passion. Ricci’s intrinsic talent for creating a genuinely hospitable atmosphere coupled with remarkable meals creates meaningful experiences for his guests who leave his restaurants feeling as though they are part of the “Tony’s” family. In May 2010, Tony’s of Cincinnati opened after a long and arduous journey for Ricci. His passion, faith and perseverance, along with the support of his wife, family and friends who believed in his vision, have led him to own and operate three locations: Tony’s of Cincinnati, Tony’s of Lexington and Tony’s of Indianapolis, which opened in 2018. 110 W WASHINGTON ST, INDIANAPOLIS, IN 46204 “Our motto is ‘Come and taste the difference,’” Ricci said. “We start with a good product. I’ve used the same meat company when I was with previous companies as well as my own since 1989. They know what I want, they know what I look for and they consistently deliver. Our steak seasoning has five different salts, five different peppers and then we use a couple different paprikas. Our heat from the broiler comes from the top, and we sear in the juices. You can go to all the other steakhouses, and you will taste salt or you will taste pepper. What you will taste with us is a combination of each, along with the paprikas, and it gives the steak a different flavor on your palate.” In addition to its succulent steaks, Tony’s offers the best cuts of New Zealand lamb and high-quality seafood. The crab cake is the real deal – no flavor disguises. It is comprised of pure sweet crab meat and enough of it to easily feed a table of four. The shrimp cocktail left me speechless. The prawns are the largest that I’ve seen in the continental U.S., and the presentation of the dish was nothing short of impressive. The diverse and expansive wine and handcrafted cocktail list is not to be underrated as well. The selection of cocktails and wines for all price points are served by highly knowledgeable and superbly trained staff. “We don’t stop training here,” Ricci emphasized. “We put our servers to the test. We know that behind the scenes, mistakes can happen. We just can’t show it to our guests.” Michael Morgan, general manager at Tony’s of Indianapolis, shared that they don’t necessarily hire individuals who have extensive culinary training or fine dining resumes. “We go outside of the scope of hiring and hire people that we feel actually care and want to make a difference,” Morgan said. “We will spend all the time in the world training someone to do the technical things, but we can’t train somebody to have a personality.” The restaurant offers a sophisticated and alluring ambiance without pretension. It can accommodate private parties with two private rooms that are temperature-, lighting- and sound-controlled with A.V. capabilities. “I personally feel that eating dinner here is unique to having dinner anyplace else,” Ricci said assuredly.“We actually want to entertain you, and we want you to have a good time. When you dine with us, you will see what we do. We are just as much of the experience as the food is that arrives at your table. We are privileged to be here. Honored to serve you. Let’s become friends.” Rest assured, our dining experience was unique, and we had a great time. We can’t wait to return to see our new friends at Tony’s of Indianapolis. To make a reservation, visit tonysofindianapolis.com or call 317-638-TONY (8669). Located at 110 W. Washington Street, Indianapolis, IN.