Bold, Gusty Italian Inspired Food at Coppa (Boston, MA)
Coppa is a very popular, Italian-inspired restaurant run by the chef/owners Ken Oringer and Jamie Bissonnette. This small plates restaurant serves platters of salumi, housemade pasta, and pizza crafted from local, seasonal ingredients.
Coppa offers a certain urban charm. It sits on a quieter corner behind Peters Park. The intimacy of the space works well as there is little car traffic. Inside, Coppa’s wedge-shaped room with simple black-and-cream-colored décor is also appealing, especially with the taxidermy pig head donning, when we were there, a Christmas hat, and seats about 40.
We were aware of Chef Bissonnette’s reputation for bold flavored food and nose-to-tail cooking. But man, this dinner blew us away.
We started with Smuttlabs “Pure Biss” ($12), a collaboration beer with Chef Bissonette and Smuttynose Brewery, a local Boston brewer. It’s a Witbier style beer, a Belgian pale ale that’s flavored with kaffir lime leaves, spruce tips and grapefruit zest. It’s crisp and bright that it would pair well with the intense flavored dishes the kitchen will be serving us.
The Burrata e Zucca made of local burrata, persimmon, pickled pumpkin, radicchio, pistachio ($12) was a great starter. Creamy, sweet, mild cheese with slightly sweet, crunchy slices of persimmon; the pumpkin and radicchio added pleasant bitterness. The pistachios added the needed crunchy texture to all things creamy.
We progressed on to our pig-shaped wooden platter of charcuterie. Of the 13 meats offered, we chose the Gentile salami, beef heart pastrami, La Quercia Prosciutto, Barolo salami, and duck prosciutto (5 for $25). All of these cured meats were sublime. All were silky and delicious. The beef heart pastrami was very tasty. It’s masterfully done; lean and spiced like pastrami but the beef heart’s flavor added some subtle mineral depth. My dining companions liked the duck prosciutto a lot.
Moving to more substantial territory, we had bruschettas of Panino di Riccio di Mare ($9) sea urchin and lonza panino with pickled mustard seeds ($9) and bruschetta di Granchio ($10) peekytoe crab, kimchi, lime-peanut dressing. We adored the sweet, briny uni (sea urchin in Japanese) tongues in between the crisp, chewy toasted bread and the pickled mustard added brightness to the sandwich. The open-faced peekytoe bruschetta was amazing as well but it’s lighter than the prior sandwich and the nutty dressing accented the crab meat beautifully.
From their piatti (or plates) section, we had Ossa di Maiale ($12), wood-oven roasted pig’s bones and tails with stone fruit mostarda glaze. The tails were cooked perfectly. The meat practically falls off the bone yet the skin is delicately crisp. The potent, delicious mostarda was a perfect foil to all the rich, fatty goodness of the meat. We loved this dish. It’s nearly two weeks since we dined there and we can’t stop talking about it.
The housemade pasta are must eats, if you are not a carb-phobe. The spaghetti alla carbonara (appetizer size $16/full size $24), an egg pasta with smoked pancetta, sea urchin and tossed with a farm egg was great. The pasta was cooked al dente and it had a nice chew. The flavors were harmonious, even with the addition of the briny uni. The castagna campanelle con coniglio ($18/$27) is little bell-shaped chestnut pasta, mixed with chunks of tender rabbit, sweet kabocha squash, tart cranberries, and topped with grated bianco sardo cheese. I loved this seasonal pasta dish. Everything was robustly flavored yet balanced. Textures were on point. I wish I could eat this pasta everyday but alas, I live in New York City.
We finished the night, despite feeling stuffed, the kitchen sent us the Agnello, a white pizza, lamb sausage, white bean, ricotta and cucumber-sumac yogurt ($18 but compliments from the kitchen). The restaurant has a wood-burning oven so the pizza yields to a puffy, crisp-edged crust and just the right amount of char. The creamy, zingy yogurt, ricotta, and white bean were the first things you’d taste. The lamb sausages that topped that pizza would be great on its own, but on that pizza it elevated to a whole different level.
We were completely stuffed and content that we joked if we eat any more food, we need to find cots somewhere in the back of the restaurant rather than crawling back to our car and drive back to our hotel. Despite the fact we have Toro in New York City, I am kind of hoping Oringer and Bissonnette would open Coppa, too. The food was absolutely phenomenal. The wait staff knows the menu and they’re friendly despite being insanely busy.
To view more photos of these visit, please view the slideshow below (or CLICK HERE):
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