Sneak Peek: Vallone's, a New Addition to the Tony Vallone Empire, Sets December 1 Opening

"Imagine how many proposals are going to happen here," a friend said to me as we surveyed the crowd filling the freshly painted and carpeted dining room at Vallone's. "And how many anniversaries and promotion celebrations and birthday parties and first dates. That's what's so exciting about a new restaurant -- imagining all of the life that's going to happen here."

It's certainly not difficult to picture momentous events taking place at Tony Vallone's newest restaurant. It's a lovely space with a mix of traditional and modern aesthetics, and, based on reaction of the crowd that showed up for last night's preview party and fundraiser for Children's Memorial Hermann Hospital, people are fond of the low lighting, comfy leather booths and large fireplaces that anchor the space.

There are essentially three dining rooms: a bistro area with a casual feel, a downstairs dining area with booths and large wooden tables, and an upstairs space with a balcony overlooking Gessner Road. This time of year, the holiday lights running up and down the street outside provide a stunning view from the floor-to-ceiling windows on the second floor.

The fire features in the bistro (pictured) and the main dining room provide heat and soft light, and they are stylish as well. The fire motif is carried throughout the space, with candles flickering in nooks and light bulbs with gold filaments burning over the bar.

The most interesting feature of the new restaurant, though, is the 30-foot wine tower that encloses a glass elevator on three sides. Bottles are stacked all the way to the top, and servers will be able to access them using ladders. it's an interesting way to showcase the restaurant's massive Italian wine collection as diners travel to the second floor.

For the fundraiser/preview event, the kitchen served up hundreds of bite-sized appetizers, including crab cake balls dotted with mustard, crispy falafel, tiny pieces of fried chicken on tiny biscuits, and divine ravioli in a buttery sage sauce. A full meal was also served, which allowed chef Grant Gordon to show off his steak skills. In addition to royal longbone rib eye and tenderloin, there were Chilean sea bass, whipped potatoes, mini lobster rolls and green bean casserole so good it might convince naysayers like meto reexamine the classic dish.

Vallone's will have a soft opening on Friday and Saturday before celebrating a grand opening on Sunday. You can make reservations and be one of the first to eat at the much-anticipated restaurant now on Open Table.

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