“Forging the way are passionate, homegrown chefs and sommeliers, reinforced by an influx of talent from outside Texas. Fueled by Houston’s strong economy and a diverse community of open-minded customers, the city’s restaurants are helping shape a rapidly expanding food and wine culture.”
The online version of the article, “Lone Star Rising,” is accessible to subscribers only.
But below you’ll find what Napjus had to say about Vallone’s, one of a handful of Houston restaurants she selected for the feature.
“Wine programs show impressive breadth” in the city, she writes, “even among smaller wine lists.”
Vallone’s takes a different tack from owner Tony Vallone’s other eponymous restaurant, longtime Houston favorite Tony’s. Opened late last year, Vallone’s offers a stylish, modern take on the classic steak house, instead of the traditional clubby vibe.
The spacious dining room, designed by architect Shafik Rifaat, features seating on two levels, with a show-stopping centerpiece: a 30-foot tower of glassed-in wine bottles. But the polished wood floors, distinctive artwork of gleaming copper pots and pans, and theatrical lighting hold their own against the dramatic wall of wine.
The menu is versatile, offering excellent shellfish and seafood, house-made pasta, salads, sides and more. For beef lovers, though, the highlight is the “wheel of meat.” Like dessert carts of old, servers roll it out tableside to illustrate their thorough and enthusiastic explanation of the restaurant’s various steaks, all butchered and cut on premise.
Backing up the menu is the restaurant’s nearly 500-bottle wine list, currently under the direction of Scott Sulma, the general manager of Tony’s and also a partner in Vallone’s. It’s a heavily California- and Italy-driven list, with a nice mix of boutique producers and big names from California, as well as offerings from many of Italy’s wine regions—not just Piedmont and Tuscany. Additionally, France gets a concise section on the wine list, as do bottlings from elsewhere in the world—from Australia to Greece to Chile and beyond.