Girls' Night Out At Coppa

On Thursday after work, I headed out for a much-needed ladies' night at Coppa with some of my favorite food bloggers. I met Meghan and Michelle at The Franklin Cafe for a pre-dinner cocktail. Not shocking either of my companions, I ordered the St. Germain Cocktail -- if there's St. Germain on a drink menu, chances are I'm getting it. Daisy joined us a few minutes later and also ordered the St. Germain Cocktail. As we idly sipped our cocktails, we filled each other in on the usual subjects -- jobs, blogs, significant others -- and soon enough it was time to head across the street to Coppa for dinner.

Coppa, Boston, Mass.

The cozy restaurant on the corner of Shawmut Ave. and Milford St. has a pig-shaped sign hanging over the doorway, signifying exactly what you're in for when you head inside: lots of delicious coppa, nose-to-tail eating, and adventurous dishes. And you know it's going to be good as this restaurant is the joint venture of well-known chefs Ken Oringer and Jamie Bissonnette.

Coppa, Boston, Mass.

When we got inside, we found Elina and Bianca waiting for us at a table for six. Hugs, greetings, and quick catchups taken care of, we all scanned Coppa's cocktail menu. I opted for the Sardinian Iced Tea (Meletti Amaro, lemon, and prosecco). It tasted like what an Arnold Palmer Sour might taste like if such a thing existed. (For the longest time when I was younger, I thought an Arnold Palmer was some sort of alcoholic drink. Turns out it's really one of my favorite nonalcoholic combos: iced tea and lemonade.)

Sardinian iced tea at Coppa, Boston, Mass.

Then there was quite a cacophony as we all examined the dinner menu and started making suggestions about we should order that evening. I always recommend when going to any tapas or small plates restaurant to try to go with a crowd. With six people, we were able to order and sample so many dishes.

The way Coppa works is that your food comes out as it's ready, so you're encouraged to order in rounds. This worked perfectly for us, since we had made up our minds about some things but were still deciding on others.

We started with the stuzzichini (Italian small bar snacks) menu and ordered the chicken liver crostini, meatballs alforno, and cured tuna belly. Then we did a platter of five salumi, selected by the chef. This sounded like enough food for the first round to all of us. We talked about our next round of plates as we eagerly awaited those first bites.

Chicken liver crostini at Coppa, Boston, Mass.
Chicken liver crostini
While most people at the table seemed to like the chicken liver crostini, it just wasn't my thing. And I knew it wouldn't be. I've tried chicken liver in the past, and there's just something about the flavor that I can't get past. I'm much happier with a country pate.

Meatballs alforno at Coppa, Boston, Mass.
Meatballs alforno
The meatballs were very tasty -- perhaps because they're roasted with lard (and parmesan). I enjoyed a small bite of these. (My favorite meatballs are still the pork meatballs at Il Casale though -- I won't even tell you what those are made with.)

Cured tuna belly at Coppa, Boston, Mass.
Cured tuna belly with anchovy, squash, and parmesan
The tuna had an interesting array of flavors and was one of the highlights of the evening. While a bit salty to some, I thought it had just the right amount of seasoning. I think I tend to like my food on the salty side though.

Chef's choice salumi platter at Coppa, Boston, Mass.
Chef's choice salumi platter
I thoroughly enjoyed the salumi platter. I wish I could remember everything that was on it. On the right side, there's prosciutto and duck prosciutto. And the little rounds in the front-left corner were my favorite of all the salumi selections. I think it may have been their pronounced truffle flavor.

For our second round, we selected the wood oven-roasted pig's tail off the offal menu, the asparagus off the cold antipasti menu, the salsiccia wood-fired pizza, the black cod and buratta special, the spaghetti alla carbonara, and the trophie con pesto. And with this second round, we decided to switch from cocktails to wine and opted to share a bottle of Bastianich Rosato.

Bastianich Rosato

Trophie con pesto at Coppa, Boston, Mass.
Trophie con pesto (half portion)
This is actually the only dish of all the ones we tried that I had before on a previous visit to Coppa. It was as good as I'd remembered. It's a very simple dish with tender pasta, pesto, potatoes, and Piave -- one of my favorite cheeses.

Black cod with burrata at Coppa, Boston, Mass.
Black cod with burrata
The black cod with burrata was a special of the evening, so instead of getting the burrata that is always on the menu, we opted for the special. This was a mistake. Besides the chicken liver crostini, which I already knew I wouldn't like, this was the only other dish I did not care for. Something about the raw fish and the creamy cheese seemed really off.

Salsiccia pizza at Coppa, Boston, Mass.
Salsiccia pizza
The sausage- and ricotta- laden pizza had a perfectly chewy crust and was one of the best dishes of the evening. It had a nice kick of heat to eat, but all the dollops of ricotta helped balance that heat.

Pig's tail at Coppa, Boston, Mass.
Pig's tail
When we were first looking over the menu, we discussed getting something off the offal menu. I have not eaten much offal, so I was game to try anything anyone else was confident in ordering. The pig's tail was incredible. I know it sounds weird to eat a pig's tail, but I highly recommend this dish (and also recommend not thinking about the words pig's tail for too long). The meat was a bit like pulled pork but tasted a lot like bacon.

Spaghetti alla carbonara at Coppa, Boston, Mass.
Spaghetti alla carbonara (half portion)
This was not your typical carbonara, as I'm sure you can tell from the picture. Within the twirls of house made pasta and amid the chunks of bacon were bits of sea urchin, another first for me. I really didn't notice a strong flavor from the sea urchin and would probably have to try it in another preparation in order to figure out whether I like it.

Asparagus with poached egg at Coppa, Boston, Mass.
Asparagus with poached egg
We thought that with all the meat we were loading up on, it might be nice to throw in a veggie. The asparagus was well flavored, but the egg was very underdone. I'm sure it was intentional, but the white was so soft, I did not enjoy it. When I make poached eggs at home and the soft white oozes out, I push it to the side of my plate.

For our final round -- we were really starting to slow down at this point -- we got the chocolate-covered foie gras (a special that night), a cheese platter, and the marinated mushrooms. Since we were winding down and heading into sweeter territory, we also switched to bubbly.

Sparkling Faive Merlot/Cabernet Franc

Chocolate-covered foie gras with strawberry glaze at Coppa, Boston, Mass.
Chocolate-covered foie gras with strawberry glaze
This was one of those dishes we just had to order after hearing the waitress describe it. It just sounded like such an odd pairing: foie gras and chocolate. Both are rich and decadent, and the resulting combo is also rich and decadent. I enjoyed it best smeared on some bread to cut some of the richness.

Marinated mushrooms at Coppa, Boston, Mass.
Marinated mushrooms
Another veggie we threw into the mix, the mushrooms were refreshing and just typical marinated mushrooms.

Cheese platter at Coppa, Boston, Mass.
Cheese platter
Perhaps the best part of the evening was when this cheese platter landed on the table in front of us. The waitress went around the plate describing the different cheeses to us. The one I remember without a doubt is that crumbly one right in the front of the picture. It's Piave, one of my favorites as I mentioned above. There was also a goat cheese, a blue, a robiola, and one other. We pretty much cleaned this plate.

I would have been perfectly happy leaving without dessert. Yes, I really just said that. Coppa doesn't really do desserts. There's always have a selection of gelato, and that night they also had bread pudding. I am not a fan of bread pudding because I always find it to be soggy, and soggy bread is not at all appealing to me. But everyone at the table was interested in giving it a try, so I had a few small bites. I just ate the edges and found them to not be too soggy, but that could also be because the whole thing was just a little overdone.

I had a great evening catching up with the ladies and trying new foods.

The atmosphere at Coppa is relaxed and well paced. The menu encourages sampling and spacing out your ordering. If you know me, you know I love going to places that serve small plates. The more different dishes I can try, the happier I am. Coppa is one of the best places around for this sort of dining experience.

Where's your favorite place for small plates?

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