Del Posto Alums Start a New Chapter With Casual Wood-Fired Pizza Spot Mel’s in Chelsea

A trio of NYC cafe heavyweights — Melissa Rodriguez, Jeff Katz, and James Kent — are prepared to show off their perform just about a single year after having about the gilded Italian fantastic eating spot Del Posto. The industry vets have been less than the microscope at any time given that they declared their intention to reimagine (and drop) the house from its rocky previous beneath Mario Batali and the Bastinach family’s ownership. Their new begin kicks off with Mel’s, a wooden-fired pizza location that will be swinging open its doorways in a upcoming-doorway space that as soon as housed seafood bar the John Dory, on March 9 at 85 10th Avenue, in between West 15th and 16th streets, in Chelsea.

A pizza topped with cheese and herbs is placed near a colorful salad and plates of roasted vegetables.

A spread of dishes at Mel’s.
Peter Marquez/Mel’s

For Rodriguez, the previous executive chef of Del Posto, Mel’s ticks off plenty of firsts in her job, she says. Prior to her 10-12 months tenure at Del Posto, Rodriguez’s resume was marked by fine eating stints at sites like chef Daniel Boulud’s eponymous Daniel and upscale seafood restaurant Oceana. But Mel’s is the initial time she’s orchestrated a a lot more informal business, the to start with time she’s labored with a wood-fired oven, and the 1st time she’s led a cafe named just after herself — not that it was the chef’s to start with preference. “I’ll be really frank with you — we named it Mel’s for the reason that we’d long gone by so quite a few names, and our architects experienced been referring to the total challenge as Mel’s the whole time,” Rodriguez says. “I reluctantly agreed out of exhaustion.”

In any situation, Rodriguez was additional interested in what was heading on in the kitchen than the title emblazoned on the indicator exterior. The centerpiece of the menu is the pizzas: charred, 12-inch specimens, priced at $18 to $27 apiece, with a the natural way leavened dough constructed by executive pastry chef and fellow Del Posto alum Ga Wodder. Rodriguez doesn’t boast about dough temperatures or what location of Italy the pizza is modeled soon after — “I am not a skilled pizzaiolo in any way,” Rodriguez states — but as a substitute, she describes the un-floppy, un-gummy pies she’d like to take in at the bar on her evening off. There’s a broccoli rabe pie strewn with pickled sizzling cherry peppers, herbs, and provolone cheese and a riff on the Italian deli staple frutti di mare, with octopus, squid, and shrimp marinated with chilis, lemon, and olive oil.

“They’re playfully Italian-ish,” Rodriguez suggests. “We’re not likely for something standard below at all.”

The open kitchen area, housed powering the bar, is not outfitted with fuel stoves, which implies that every little thing else on the menu — a smattering of greens, fish, and steak — are roasted about open flames. Gelato sundaes bolstered with espresso brownies and Italian rainbow cookies spherical out the menu.

A red plate with large roasted mushroom pieces placed on top, covered in cheese and other garnishes.

Roasted maitake mushrooms at Mel’s.
Peter Marquez/Mel’s

On the other aspect of the tiled bar, the 80-seat house is comprehensive of cushy round booths and seats splashed in mustard and pink hues. The workforce knocked out the back wall to increase the dining home into what was once the personal eating region at Del Posto. Katz, the specialist mood-setter at the rear of hip downtown fine dining places Crown Shy and Saga, is hellbent on receiving the lighting as minimal as probable. On a hectic extend of 10th avenue not identified for its enjoyment, relaxed hangouts, Mel’s is aiming to create that vibe without having the clubby pitfalls of many nearby Meatpacking District spaces.

For all of its Michelin-starred, New York Periods-lauded record, Rodriguez may possibly be happy to never ever discuss of Del Posto once again. It was essential to her to devote in this challenge on the aged grounds of Del Posto, she suggests, mainly because who superior to revamp this house than the staff members who stored the acclaimed cafe operating for about a 10 years? But this is not Del Posto anymore. It is Mel’s, and the adjacent Italian tasting menu spot Al Coro, and downstairs cocktail bar Discolo, to open later on this spring. She attained what she set out to do — buy Del Posto, and rehire a handful of her former colleagues into management positions, which include Wodder — and she’s ready to commence letting the past go.

Mel’s is open up from Wednesday to Saturday, 5:30 to 10 p.m. Reservations are out there listed here.

Mel’s evening meal menu: