Friday, May 20, 2016

Review: Coppa, Boston MA

Boston is one of the great east coast cities that were home to the early waves of Italian immigrants, where legendary pizzerias populated the neighborhoods: New York, Trenton, Philadelphia, New Haven. Beyond the wonderful old-school pies at places like Regina and Santarpio's, Boston has some newer places that are making stellar pizza.
Margherita pizza at Coppa
One year ago, we visited Picco in the South End neighborhood, and it was not only the best pizza in Boston, but one of the most spectacular pies anywhere. About a block away, in an area peppered with a great variety of small and interesting restaurants, is Coppa. While pizza is featured on the menu, there is a large variety of salumi, small plates, pastas, and other dishes with unusual ingredients like sea urchin and beef hearts. I'd love to get deeper into that menu.

I visited Coppa on a warm spring afternoon as the lunch hour was waning. There are a few tables outside at this corner restaurant, but I was seated inside, where the narrow space hosts a bar and seating for just 38. It's a pleasant neighborhood setting with a casually hip feeling inside.

Plenty of interesting choices for the pizza (including one with bone marrow and beef heart), but I chose a basic ($14) Margherita. I also ordered a plate of marinated Castelvetrano olives ($7) as an appetizer, and an Earl Grey - Lemon soda.
The olive plate
The green olives were nicely presented, garnished with fennel, thinly slice Chinese radishes, and some tasty housemade wine biscuits moonlighting as croutons. Along with some slices of very fresh Italian bread and flavorful olive oil, it was an excellent starter. The timing was perfect, too, because my pie arrived shortly after I had finished the olives.

The pizza was a small personal size, about 9 or 10 inches in diameter. It had immediate eye appeal, even as the narrow cornicione on one side sported a very dark char. There were small pools of white cheese on the red sauce landscape, but at the center of the pie you could see how the mozzarella and the aged grated cheese had melded with the tomato sauce into a creamy orange mix. The entire pie was topped with chopped bits of fresh basil.

Each of the six slices was sufficiently sturdy and crisp to support the toppings without drooping. This thin-crusted pie with puffy leopard spotting on the cornicione had the appearance of an authentic Neapolitan, but the rigidly crisp bottom puts it more into the hybrid category. Beyond its al dente texture, this crust had its own good flavor, even the charred edges.

The red sauce and mozzarella cheese were subtly flavored; the sprinkling of aged Italian cheese added a salty kick. These simple ingredients were applied in about ideal proportion, so that the crust didn't get soggy, even in the center. 
Underside of the crust
It was easy to eat the entire pie and savor its uncomplicated marriage of crust, sauce, and cheese. I think I might have enjoyed it even more with a cured meat (sausage or pepperoni) topping, because the sauce and mild mozzarella presented an ideal base palate on which to paint some savory flavor.

Coppa's pizza is among the best anywhere. With the stellar Picco just a block or two away, the people living in South End have pie options that rival New Haven and Greenwich Village. I'm not going to pick one over the other; I'd eat at both places often if I had the chance.

Coppa Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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