A few weeks ago, we tried the new Italian restaurant in Chelsea Market. A less rushed alternative to the market’s typical grab-and-go options, La Devozione offers fine dining, casual dining, a market of artisanal goods, and also takeout. If the restaurant’s name sounds familiar, it’s because they stem from a well known pasta manufacturer with roots dating back more than 110 years – Pastificio di Martino. Their story is fascinating, with the aforementioned origins to the first takeaway stand in Naples, to now expanding into restaurants in the United States. Our last visit involved dining at A Tavola, their casual dining area, and we couldn’t wait to try The Oval for an immersive tasting experience with Chef Alessio Rosetti.
Well, today was that day! We entered Chelsea Market and wandered over to the restaurant, nestled in the very center across from the open-concept food court. Soon, we were seated at the impressive chef’s counter: an oblong round tabletop surrounding state-of-the-art stovetops, ovens, pasta stations, and more, also known as The Oval.
We began our meal with a few cocktails: the American Rose and the Select Aperitivo. Both drinks had a citrusy, bitter flavor profile with the former boasting a bit of fizz and the latter holding a more floral component from the juniper berries. They paired perfectly with our first course, which was a wafer made of over-boiled and mashed up pasta, then spread thin, seasoned with classic italian herbs, and dried out. It also came with two breadsticks, and delicious ‘cookies’ made with pork fat and crushed almonds. So unique, with familiar tastes but brand new formats, made for the perfect carb-based appetizer.
The second course was our first pasta, the Spaghettini a Limone. Bright and acidic yet balanced due to the creamy provolone sauce, it excited us about the rest of the courses to come. Lemon pasta is one of my absolute favorite dishes, so I could have happily eaten an entire meal of this alone. Next, the Pacchero Calabria arrived. A plate of 4 large paccheri, each topped with bergamot glaze, smoked swordfish, and fennel fronds, were like little flavor explosions. Citrusy and fresh, earthy, and smoky essences filled your mouth for a true gastronomical experience. I loved this small, punchy dish!
Next, the Sogno Rosso was a spaghetti with caviar and parlsey foam that came out for our fourth course. It was plated gorgeously with voluminous bright green parsley foam that keeps its shape for longer than expected. The flavors, once swirled together, were earthy and complex. The Marco Polo, a roasted beet goat cheese pasta, arrived next: a bright magenta colored sauce served in a large wine glass. Goat cheese comprised the main flavor, which quickly melted and incorporated into the pink sauce. This brightened the dish and added a whipped, creamy texture.
Our next course was a pick-your-own adventure: either the Candele Rotto a Mare or the Candele BBQ. Of course, we each chose one so we could sample both dishes. The Candele Rotto a Mare was a cripsy medley of octopus, squid, cuttlefish, and asparagus covered in a ragu sauce. The result? A seafood-heavy flavor balanced by the classic, neutral comfort of a red sauce that blended perfectly. The Candele BBQ was one of our favorite items of the night, with sizzling pork belly and creamy artichoke.
The final food course was the restaurant’s namesake dish – La Devozione. A simple tomato basil sauce yet so complex and satisfying in flavor, this pasta absolutely cannot disappoint – and that’s due to the quality of its ingredients. Tomatoes are from Sorrento which are harvested in the summer and canned to send to the US in the fall. In contrast to San Marzano tomatoes, these are richer and sweeter, giving the sauce an extraordinary flavor. This was our favorite item last time as it’s also on A Tavola’s menu, and was definitely near the top this time as well.
For dessert, we had a lime tart, which was a unique twist on the indulgent lemon tart. We finished off our meal with smooth, creamy espresso brewed in the moka pots La Devozione sells in their market. They were a delicious end to a decadent, artful meal. We highly recommend The Oval to anyone looking for an experience far greater than just a meal – a creative, interactive Chef-led lesson in Italian cuisine.