Andrew Rebori was most recently known for running the cozy Just Dinner supper club on Dunlavy, the same restaurant that graciously hosted the very first pop-up dinners from chefs Seth Siegel-Gardner, Terrence Gallivan and Justin Yu. But longtime Houstonians will also remember Rebori from his popular Tutto Bene Italian Family Restaurant on Shepherd, which first opened in 1990.
Rebori passed away yesterday morning after losing a long battle with cancer.
Houston Press food critic Kelley Blewster praised the simple food and aesthetic of Rebori's Tutto Bene back in 1996:
The soul of a foodie who's jaded from too much exposure to all that's hipper-than-thou in today's restaurant scene might well find respite in the welcome presented by the two live oak trees flanking the dirt driveway into Tutto Bene's parking lot.
Rebori and his restaurants had a way of soothing souls. In a posting on HAIF from 2005, fans of Tutto Bene posted their memories of the restaurant after it closed in 2004.
"Man, I loved that place. It was exactly the kind of place that made living and eating out in the city superior to the endless chain restaurants that one is forced to endure in the suburbs. And, since it was hidden from the masses, one felt it was their own little secret place," wrote commenter Red Scare.
Fans of Tutto Bene were pleased when Just Dinner opened a few years later, however. Another HAIF commenter described the gracious atmosphere that defined both Just Dinner and Tutto Bene:
It's a small, lovely place where you can bring your own wine. The pasta dishes offered are some of the old favorites from Tutto Bene... The menu also states "please feel free to ask for anything you would like to have for dinner. Most likely, I can accommodate you."
Rebori retired from Just Dinner this past July, when he became too ill to work. Although born in Chicago, he'd been a Houston restaurateur for 24 years.
Rebori leaves behind his wife of 26 years, Lisa, and a surrogate son, German Medina, who worked at his side in Rebori's restaurants for 11 years. With Lisa and German, Rebori had just completed a three-week road trip across the United States. Rebori had wanted to visit all of his friends and family before he passed away, and did so successfully. Writes wife Lisa of their adventure:
Andrew, Lisa and their friend, German, traveled across the southern U.S., up the east coast to New England, across New York state (including a trip to Niagara Falls) and finished the adventure with a stay in Holland, MI, in their newly acquired vacation home. It was a trip that left all his friends, family and healthcare professionals amazed and full of awe! He and Lisa then flew home to Houston where he remained receiving friends and family, with the élan of the host he had been all his life. He greeted each visitor with a huge grin and welcoming arms just as he had greeted the guests in his restaurants.
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Rebori will be remembered by his family and friends as the epitome of a restaurateur who loved his life. "He started each day thinking about food, shopping and gardening," said Lisa. "He daily met all his customers. He was always concerned about their comfort and satisfaction. He took tremendous pride in creating opportunities for people to talk to each other and to share a good meal."
A service in celebration of his Andrew Rebori's life will be held Monday, November 28, at 3 p.m. at Christ Church Cathedral, 1117 Texas Ave. In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to Christ Church Cathedral in support of community outreach programs by calling 713-222-2593.