Unbelievable risi e bisi and other good stuff we ate and drank at Tony’s

Cousin Marty (above with Tracie P) and I often remark how remarkable it is that two schlubs like him and me ended up with such jaw-droppingly beautiful women. I guess it just runs in the family.

Last night, as their wedding present to us, his better half Joanne and he treated Tracie P and me to dinner at Tony’s, the hottest see-and-be-seen table on any Saturday night in Houston. Judge Manny and wife Betty joined us for what, I think it’s fair to say, was one of the most glamorous nights of our year so far: federal judges, U.S. ambassadors, bank execs, top radiologists, and throw in a sports celebrity or two — everyone came by our table to say hello to Judge Manny.

Tony, himself, presided over our table. Knowing our love of regional Italian cuisine, he answered my request for a great risotto with an improvised risi e bisi, a classic dish of the Veneto (where he knows I lived) and a favorite dish of Italian Jews. It was fantastic.

It had been preceded by a burrata drizzled with honey and a balsamic reduction and then topped with freshly grated Alba truffles (SHEESH!).

The tip-to-stalk ratio in the asparagus with Pecorino Romano gave the dish just the right balance of bitter and sweet.

Tracie P’s halibut was served over a sea urchin sauce.

My lamb chops were served over a cannellini “humus” and topped with a crumbled green falafel. Can you humus a few bars?

Sommelier Scott Banks surprised us with a Nebbiolo we’d never tasted, this Colline Novaresi by Fontechiara (Borgomanero, Novara). Extreme value on an otherwise high-roller list, grapey and with bright acidity, fresh on the nose and earthy on the palate, perfect for the wide variety of foods set before us.

Joanne and Marty, thank you for such a wonderful dinner… a dinner-event, really! And thanks, from the bottom of our hearts, for all the support you’ve given me and Tracie P, in this first year of our marriage, as we’ve begun building a life for ourselves in Texas. I can’t tell you how much it means, on so many levels, to both of us. We have so very much to be thankful for and are truly blessed to have you as part of our lives. And who knew my relatives were such fressers and machers?