The grand re-opening of Valanni Restaurant and Lounge

Valanni owners, George and Valerie Anni (say her name fast a couple times…get it?), spearheaded the revitalization to keep the local hot spot relevant and fresh. This Monday a throng of well-wishers, fashionistas, and revelers came out to celebrate the grand re-opening of the laidback Medi-Latin restaurant/lounge.

The posh black and brick interior has been extended to expand the dining and bar area to virtually twice the original size. The lengthened bar unites both halves of the restaurant and seats 28 boozehounds. A posh private room, located at the rear of the new wing, is equipped with a private bar and audio-visual amenities for business functions. It’s also the perfect little hide-away for late night shenanigans.

In celebration of the new renovations, Executive Chef R. Evan Turney has improved upon Valanni’s already fabulous menu. The classic Medi-Latin tapas favorites, such as the fantastic crispy shiitake polenta with saut�ed shrimp, warm feta, pine nuts and pesto ($12) or the Medi-Latin plate (chipotle chicken empanadas, hummus & grilled pita, baked feta & olives, lump crab piquillo stuffed peppers, grilled adobe beef kabobs, and incredible fried manchega, $25) remain on the menu along with brand-new tapas dishes such as the albondigas (lamb meatballs with guindilla-saffron-almond cream sauce).

As far as staple main courses, dighilly recommends the classic but flavorful paella (shellfish, chorizo sausage, ancho chicken, squid, and saffron rice, $22). And if you’re looking for something off the original “taste” menu, mussel mavens will go mad for the option of red mussels served in ancho chili puree, basil, with a charred tomato garlic broth ($8) or the white mussels (brewed in smoked chorizo, cilantro, mint and a warm roasted corn broth, $9).

The menu’s entr�e section is influenced by season and has been revamped to include fish specialties such as the pan-seared Turbot with celery root puree, crispy pancetta, wild mushrooms, and jicama herb salad in a brown-butter citrus. If you’re more of a meat lover, a fresh addition is the grilled Kobe flatiron steak and braised short rib duo. The dinner menu will also unveil an array of paellas that will be offered daily and range in variation from vegetarian to meat and seafood choices.

And what would a grand re-opening be without some cocktails? Valanni’s features nearly 30 different specialty cocktails and an extended wine list was unveiled, featuring descriptively named categories of wine including “Lean and Voluptuous” and “Effervescent and Exotic.” The bar also offers four infused spirits and five types of sangria. Beer lovers don’t fret, you can enjoy the coldest draft beers poured from custom Italian cobra ice towers.

The final verdict on Valanni’s transformation? Well, in this case, bigger is better. The new additions to the floor plan and menus have only increased interest in Valanni’s. Thanks to the recent changes, you can probably expect Valanni to be around for decades to come.

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