Friday, January 22, 2010

Coppa, Chinato Wishes and Salumi Dreams

After the wonderful time we had at the Sommelier Smack-Down at Gordon's last night, I headed over to Coppa in the South End with friends for a night cap.  It's the latest from Ken Oringer, and the talented Jamie Bissonette takes the helm as chef de cuisine.  I've heard quite a buzz surrounding the place over the past few weeks since they've opened.  From my experience there, I'd say it's well deserved.

We walked in around 10:30 to a crowded room full of diners and bar patrons.  There was a 20 minute wait for a table, so we sidled up at the bar for an aperitif.  Three stools opened up together, so we ended up just staying at the bar for the duration of the evening and were very well attended to by the staff.  I tried to order a Bourbon, and was surprised when the bartender told me that they only had a beer, wine, and cordial license.  Undeterred, I chose a standby of mine: half sweet/half dry vermouth on the rocks.  It did the trick in stimulating my appetite as it always does, and despite the fact that my tummy was still full from the Smack-Down, we decided to order some food.

We were in part tempted by the beautiful Berkel meat slicer that was behind the bar.  We watched with hungry eyes as one of the cooks cranked the handle and sliced off paper thin ribbons of ham, tongue, duck breast, and other cured meats onto big round dishes.  How could we resist?!?  We ordered a chef's sampler of house-cured salumi and I think we must have tried just about all of the various types of salumi they were offering that evening - we were served eight varieties. I was particularly taken with the lardo drizzled with honey. We also tried a cauliflower pizza made with Bra, a delicious Piedmontese cheese, and anchovies.  It was savory and salty.  I loved the food with a Nebbiolo Chinato that I spied on the aperitif list - a sort of cross between wine and bitters.  What a treat to have fantastic artisan salumi with a such rare and delicious beverage!

The room is small and filled with vivacious diners and had a great energy on a Thursday night. It fits my expectations of an Enoteca, though I have not visited Italy myself.  I can see it becoming a South End staple for the bar set and those affected by the pork craze that has beset foodies over the past several years.  I will return just for the salumi and look forward to trying more from their small plates menu when I'm up for an actual meal.  Until then, I'll be dreaming about the delicious lardo that melted in my mouth washed down with the lovely Chinato that they serve.

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