Sir Inc. designed this popular, upscale restaurant for Houston’s premiere restaurant impresario, Tony Vallone. Located on bustling Westheimer near the famous Galleria, the Grotto offers the atmosphere of a Tuscan country villa complete with wood-burning fireplace, soaring ceilings, segmented arches and colorful wall-paintings Organized in a tripartite plan, the restaurant features a raised central bay that accommodates clerestory windows bringing natural light into the middle of the large dining room. Focus of the space is the brightly lighted wall of shelves holding bar glasses and bottles and the wood-burning oven with a free-standing copper-clad chimney. Guest arrive beneath a copper canopy festooned with fiber optic lights that shimmer both indoors and out as the canopy extends from the arrival to the bar area. At the entry, the long gently curving bar greets guests than continues in an ellipse to become a display area for colorful antipasto dishes on the dining side. From here, the diners can view the bustle of the kitchen at the back of the house through a towering glass wall. The restaurant seats 350 guests in a flexible arrangement that includes a party room seating 120 and an adjacent “wine room” seating 20. The palette of materials in the Grotto plays off glistening copper and glass surfaces and sharp modern lighting against a subdued, earth-tone, traditional background.
Client: Vallone Restaurant Group