Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Coppa, South End, Boston

So lets play a word game-Ill say a bunch of words and you guys guess what restaurant I'm talking about. Ok? Lets start with "New", "Popular" (already), "Italian", "Cozy", "Delicious", "Incredible", "Amazing"....any guesses yet? I'll just tell you since Im basically bursting about how fantastic this place is- Coppa, the very recently opened Enoteca in the South End.

Coppa is the brainchild of Chefs Ken Oringer and Jamie Bissonnette which opened just a few weeks ago on December 9th. It specializes in Italian small plates, capitalizing in local and sustainable ingredients. Additionally, I found out, they cure many of their own meats...but I'll return to that later.

After a bit of a crazy day on Monday, we had a bit to celebrate last night and so we ventured out to Shawmut Ave on the later side, and arrived at Coppa around 8:30. The night started out a bit on the rough side as when were greeted we were informed that a table wouldn't be ready for an hour and a half. It took a moment to process- an hour and a half wait at 8:30 pm. Ok. We were also informed that the space was at capacity and they wouldn't be able to accommodate us at the bar. Odd- but that's fine we headed down the street and had a drink at Franklin Cafe, and then we returned to Coppa to see if we could get in at the bar. It was still packed, but we were able to find some standing room near the bar and we ordered drinks. After standing for just a moment or two we were offered a plate of crostini with white bean and sage puree to snack on. Just as we were offered that two seats at the bar opened up so we snagged them, and perused the menu while enjoying the snack. That white bean puree was delicious. The more I've been making dips at home, the more I've been loving them when I'm out-this one was spectacular, creamy and light with just subtle hints of sage. It was then that I knew I was in for a treat.

Loving the idea of small plates we decided to order a few different tastes- and selected their meatballs, the arancini, the Cavatelli di Pollo, and their Rigatoni. We were served the meatballs first-they were plated as three meatballs, in a red sauce, with a piece of lardo over the top, and then fire roasted. The flavor that came out of these was absolutely incredible. The meatballs themselves were moist and had a wonderful meat flavor enhanced by herbs and just slight breadcrumbs. The lardo on top had been cooked til crisp on the edges but so succulent inside and wonderfully "melty". The combination of those was honest bliss.

We were next served the Cavatelli di Pollo-this was a combination of cavatelli pasta, chicken sausage, slow cooked broccoli and oregano mixed with just a slight bit of tomato sauce. I had thought that the meatballs were bliss but wow, this dish had incredible flavor combinations and depth. The oregano mixed with the cavatelli and the wonderful fennel from the chicken sausage. Each bite revealed more wonderful flavors than the last. This dish took the cake as my favorite from the night, and one that I am currently wishing I had more of.

The Arancini were served next, piping hot, a top a bit of tomato sauce. Crispy and beautiful, risotto perfectly cooked inside, and filled with creamy Fontina cheese. These were gorgeous to look at, and lovely to eat. Absolutely delicious.

Finally our Rigatoni was served with a goat ragu, mushrooms and thinly sliced green olives. Now, I have never had goat before and so I wasn't able to compare it easily, but it was a wonderful tasting meat-creamier than beef, and with a bit more "game" flavor. It was so nicely contrasted with the salty olives, and paired perfectly with the hearty rigatoni.

Still wanting more, we looked again at the menu and decided to have a plate of their Proscuitto di Parma, and to try their Pollo Milanese. We were served a very generous helping of their Proscuitto which, by far was absolutely the best I've had. Cured meats can so often taste solely of salt, but this had such delicate flavors, and wonderful texture, it was just beautiful. As we ooo'ed and ahh'ed over the Tracy, who was stationed behind the bar with the cured meats and and some cold small plates, offered to make us a tasting plate of their other meats. Tracy out did her self. She presented us with a platter starting with Pate that had been studded with Pistachios, Duck Proscuitto, Lomo, cured Blood Sausage, Coppa, and Lardo, with just a bit of grain mustard in the middle. What an amazing compilation of tastes, textures and flavors. The Duck Proscuitto, as was declared both by us, Tracy and the couple seated next to us was out of this world. It melted in the mouth almost immediately and filled the palate with salty sweetness. It was an incredible piece of meat. The Lomo, cured pork tenderloin touched with crushed red pepper flakes, was light and had definite pork flavors, perfectly complimented with the heat from the red pepper. The Blood Sausage was a great rendition of the meat, one that made me really enjoy it. I remember blood sausage from the time I spent in London being served for breakfast, and I never quite got a taste for it. Last nights version had some good spice to it, and reminded me of a less greasy salami. The Coppa, also known as Capicola, was as lovely as the original proscuitto, but had much richer flavors. The Pate was beautiful, wonderfully seasoned with the slight crunch of the pistachio, it paired as wonderfully with the grain mustard as it did on its own. Finally the Lardo- dressed with fresh cracked black pepper and supreme honey, this cured pig fat was luscious. Light flavors filled the mouth as the lardo melted on the tongue. The plate was a masterpiece, and I was completely sold on it.

At this point I must note, Coppa has taken on the task of curing their own meats, all that are not intrinsic to a region of Italy. The very idea of this to me is outstanding, especially when looking at their range of cured meats, tasting the quality, and the size of their space. It is dedication to detail like this that is making Coppa shine already.

Though we were severely lacking for appetite at this point, our Pollo Milanese arrived-a golden brown beautiful piece of chicken, topped with artichoke hearts and placed on a bed of sauteed spinach, lightly seasoned with lemon. I always enjoy lemon essence, but sometimes feel that it is overdone, or rather, over powers the rest of the dish. Here that was not the case, the lemon held back highlighting notes of the crispy crust of the chicken, and lightening the spinach. It was a shame that we were not more hungry when it was presented, as we did not do the dish justice.

We were forced to decline desserts as our belly's wouldn't allow us to eat even one more bite.

Coppa was by far an incredible spot. The food, as Ive described was beyond words. Well executed, well delivered, well spiced, every item was spot on. What shone, though, even more than the food was the outstanding service. Each person who spoke with us, and helped us along the way was welcoming, gracious and knowledgeable. Each treated us as friends, and we felt the difference.

We consistently remarked throughout the night that the amount of prep, the attention to detail and the incredible importance placed on the little things is making a world of difference. The "new restaurant" blips that one comes to expect seem to be negligible and Coppa appears to be running like a fine oiled machine even at this short point after opening. Chefs Oringer, and Bissonnette-hats off to you- Coppa delivered an incredibly fine meal, and has joined my very short list of favorite restaurants.

Coppa on Urbanspoon


Delicious Dishings said...

I cannot wait to check it out! This is an awesome review... all the food sounds fabulous.

Boston Food Diary said...

Thanks! Let me know what you think when you go-we were blown away!!

Anonymous said...

just you travel much? ever lived in europe? would you say you've tasted real spanish tapas, italian stuzis? coppa and toro are such huge fakes. but there's no shortage of those who'll buy the hype. sorry, just being honest.


Boston Food Diary said...

Hi David
First of all- thanks for reading! To answer your question-I did live in Europe for a short time, travel as much as I can, and I actually come from a very Italian background. I am very sorry to hear that you have had "not so great" experiences at Coppa and Toro-Id love to know what you thought was fake at Coppa. Please feel free to email me at

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