Coppia is the former Vino Paradiso wine bar, remodeled and re-purposed for a greater focus on food and wine pairings. Inside, the modernist space is a mix of clean lines and silver and black and cool looking lighting, looking so urban that I wondered if I was in a big city sushi bar. In retrospect it does seem to fit into the idea of the artsy urban vibe of the Pearl so I can see how this could be in line with the “local wine watering hole” for the area. The center appears to be the bar and open kitchen located in the bottom of the U of this U-shaped space, while the sides of the U are where the tables for dining are placed, a series of two-tops that can be pushed together, but not so many tables that there isn’t a bubble of space for each table to have privacy.
As we perused the menu options which were set for New Year’s Eve 12-31-12, we also looked at the other wine offerings and liked the fact that there were several by the glass options, and you could also get flights of wine. The wine list is mostly Italian but with several options from the local area and around the world as well, and all were reasonably priced. We arrived 15 minutes early for a 9:30 reservation and were told the guests at our table were still paying, so a bar table with high stools was cleared of a serving tray and we were given two glasses of water so we could sit and wait. I appreciated that.
But then not 2 minutes later, we were seated at a table for two that I had already seen was empty when we arrived. We left around 11. Not sure if it was because they were understaffed for the holiday evening since it was New Year’s Eve, but service seemed slow, with us often sitting over empty dishes or getting halfway through sipping the glass of wine of the next pairing before the actual course even arrived, and another couple that had arrived while we were having our second course somehow caught up to us and were having dessert while we were still in the middle of ours. Was the fact they had ordered a bottle of wine to share instead of pairings making the service easier, or was the server picking up the pace as it got closer to midnight?
At one point a server started to give us a second glass of the complimentary sparkling prosecco until he realized we were already drinking the wine paired with our first course, and for one course they poured his red in a white wine glass and my red in a red wine glass so that the juxtaposition between our glasses was silly. Although the wines were listed on the menu, after they were taken away it was a good thing I took a photo with my phone so I could refer back to it as the servers would just drop off wines and food without a word of explanation. The service at the bar looked much more personable.
Choice of insalata of radicchio, olive oil, garlic, anchovy with parmesan and crouton (we took off the anchovy so it would be vegetarian), paired with Broglia Sparkling Gavi or a zuppa of cauliflower veloute and scallop. The salad was quite garlicky although the wine pairing was nice and crisp. The soup was lovely thanks to the scallop, and was paired with Matteo Correggia Arneis that offered a round fruit mix of apple and pear tones.
Choice of a risotto with wild mushroom or tajarin that is house-made with sugo di carne (pork & veal) and parmesan. The risotto was the best dish of the night- the tajarin seemed a overcooked as it was limp and mushy, so sad, though the sauce was good. The risotto was paired with a delicious Raptor Ridge “Mm” Pinot Noir, and the tajarin was paired with Castello di Verduno Pelaverga- and I think his wine was better while mine had an unusual nose (though tasted fine) that seemed unidentifiable except that it was faintly dry and chalky somehow though F deemed it “dryer sheet”. Again, his risotto was the best dish of the entire meal.
Choice of sformato, a souffle-flan with artichoke and spinach in a spinach sauce, or fagiano, a roasted pheasant with cavolo nero (black kale) and quince, or agnello, lamb chops with cotechino sausage and lentil. The sformato (paired with Quaranti Chardonnay) and the agnello (paired with Bryn Mawr Pinot Noir) were selected. The souffle-flan was good and rich which I liked (although of course I like rich foods, while F complained it was a little too rich), while the lamb chops were a little underseasoned and the lentil suffered the same fate (meanwhile, F kept eying my lentils, wishing he could have just had a dish of lentils, and I kept wondering what it would be like to put some of the spinach sauce on them. Go figure.)
Choice of bonet chocolate flan-mousse with amaretti crust and caramel sauce paired with a surprisingly spice-tasting of cinnamon in the glass of Cocchi Barolo Chinato, or a torta of flourless hazelnut cake and creme anglaise paired with a 20 year tawny port. Both were just the right portion and amount of richness or nutty light cake that was not oversweet.
Except for the prosecco and the Sparkling Gavi, each pouring came with a mini carafe to refill the tasting portion already poured.
Coppia has a great concept, but it seems the service is letting that premise down, at least when we were there for our visit. The wine pairings enhanced each of the dishes we had- it’s too bad I just don’t know anything more about them than the name listed on the photo from my phone’s camera. I don’t think I would pick this restaurant again for any special occasion. However, being able to stop by for a wine and bite to eat of the antipasti at the bar where you can interact more seems like a nice option if you are in the area and looking for a nice glass of wine to relax with and you want less bustle then offered at Metrovino about 1/2 mile away.