A few years ago, when Del Posto began tinkering with vegan and gluten-free options, it was chef Melissa Rodriguez who was tasked for the challenge. Then-executive chef Mark Ladner said to sous chef Rodriguez, “You do yoga. Do you want to do vegetarian menus too?” She said yes.
With her guidance, the restaurant now offers stuffed artichoke, brown rice porridge with avocados, and an entire vegan tasting menu. That said, as the restaurant’s brand new executive chef —Ladner left the restaurant this season to open his fast-casual pasta restaurant Pasta Flyer — Rodriguez wants regulars and newbies to know she isn’t going to change things too much.
“I don’t want to feel like I’m alienating people,” says Rodriguez, who joined the restaurant’s cooking staff six years ago. “I want everyone to have a place here, whether they’ve been dining with us for 12 years, or they just joined us.”
It’s a notion that Rodriguez is also applying to the menu items at Del Posto. “This is a fine dining restaurant, where we do over-indulgence,” she says. “We put in a lot of effort to make sure that dishes are appropriate and accommodating to the clientele.” She also noted that really good food and nutrition need not be separate.
This belief leads Rodriguez to spending time sifting through nutrition books and working with a nutritionist to ensure that dishes are as healthful as possible. It’s part of the challenge of her evolving role at Del Posto.
“I like a good challenge,” she quips. “I think everyone is excited for a little change.”