Happy Friday, friends. Been another loooong week at chez Semi-Sweet. More sickness and misery, this time me. Better weather and a spring cleaning slated for this weekend and I am full of hope that next week our luck will turn around. Cross your fingers for us, will you!?
But now it’s almost the weekend, and my thoughts turn to dining out. I’m still thinking about dinner at Coppa two weeks ago. It was that enjoyable. While we sat stuffing our faces, D. and I agreed that it was one of our more memorable meals in recent history. And we eat a lot.
We’d heard good things about Coppa, Ken Oringer and Jamie Bissonnette’s newish South End enoteca, but it’s a small place (40 seats inside) and we’d heard that the wait was crazy (2+ hours, easy) . . . until later at night (read: 11 p.m. or so). We’re waaaay beyond the going out anywhere at 11 p.m. phase of our lives, so we knew that we’d have to show up on the front-side to get a table at this hot spot. Cue the sitter at 4:30 – we parked and walked over, arriving at 5:10 p.m. (Coppa opens at 5:30). We were the third party in line. The line eventually stretched around the corner, and not everyone made it in for the 5:30 open. You’re hereby forewarned.
So, Coppa’s an “enoteca,” which is technically a wine bar, or a place where the wine comes first, food second. But let me assure you, this coming from a virtual teetotaller, the food does not come second at Coppa. These small plates of luscious Italian treats will be a highlight of your visit, for sure. And even better, you’re encouraged by the very friendly staff to linger as long as you like – you can place an order for a few plates and drinks, then order more as you go along. Food is cooked to order and is served as it comes up, so if you need things in a particular order you need to let your server know.
D. and I ordered a boat-load of food, and ate all of it:
- Meatballs al Forno – rich, super-flavorful meaty tidbits, moist with house-made lardo;
- Arancini– delightfully crispy on the outside, gooey with fontina cheese on the inside;
- Ricotta Stuzzi, crisp bread with fresh warm ricotta on top, a standout;
- The Bruschetta de Cannelloni, was very good, but not as stellar as the other things we tried;
- The Brussels sprouts with pancetta, pecorino, and horseradish were so outstanding, even D., an admitted B.S.-hater said they were delicious. For anyone who enjoys Brussels sprouts, they were pure heaven;
- The sautéed broccoli raabe with garlic, chili flake and golden raisins was so good I could’ve made a meal off it alone;
- The Arrosto di Peppe, (roasted sweet peppers with Turkish spices, feta, and aged balsamic) was good, but the flavors were flatter and less exciting; and
- Cavatelli di Pollo, a seemingly ordinary dish, elevated to outstanding. The combo of house-made cavatelli, chicken sausage, slow-cooked broccoli and oregano with the teeniest bit of tomato sauce had amazing depth of flavor.
Coppa has only a beer/wine/cordial license, but they do such a good job with what they’ve got to work with. D. had a couple of nice reds by the glass, and I enjoyed the “Italian in Vermont” cocktail (prosecco, maple syrup, blueberries) which was creative, fresh and delicious.
We didn’t even venture into the great-looking wood-fired pizzas or Bissonette’s house-made salumi (selection varies weekly). Nor did we have room for dessert. But N.B., South End Buttery is across the street, so you could score some sweets for later and walk-off a little bloat before tucking in for more . . . .