When it comes time for date night, I want two things and two things only: good food and flowing wine. Okay, fine -- I guess my fiancé, too. So, three things and three things only...
Follow me as I chronicle the magic of a good date night (and not in a creepy way like that totally sounds)...
Last Friday, the man and I finally checked out Coppa Risorante Italiano. The second we stepped into the romantic but still-funky chandelier-lit space (that was still completely packed at 9 p.m., by the way -- thank God they take reservations), I wished I had made a visit sooner. And we hadn't even peeked at a menu yet.
This place is perfection; it manages to be classy without being stuffy, has a warm and welcoming staff, and boasts a menu full of familiar Italian classics reimagined in a way that only a culinary mastermind can -- that night, Executive Chef Brandi Key herself made rounds to greet each and every smiling table.
And there was a clear reason for the joy quickly filling the room -- Key's food is delicate, well thought out and simply irresistible.
First and foremost is the massive wine list. Though it may seem intimidating to some, it is easy to navigate with the help of the eager-to-please and impressively knowledgeable staff. Upon suggestion from our server, we started with a bottle of 2008 Nice Malbec ($30) -- a medium-to-full-bodied, dry yet fruity red with hints of plum, peach and honey. Bold and leathery but with a smooth finish, it was a nice start to our meal.
Along with the bottle, we put in an order for the barrata arancini ($5) -- creamy, mozzarella-studded balls of risotto that are breaded, deep-fried and served piled with shaved parmigiano cheese in a bed of Coppa's light and fresh marinara. Can I just say I could eat these forever? I still dream about them at night. For only $5, these are a must-have.
Those little rice balls were enough to let us know we needed to split meals going forward, because now we wanted to try everything. Our bottle of red, whispering to be paired with more cheese, lead us to the salumi and cheese board ($27).
Our platter arrived layered with beautiful slivers of cured meats -- coppa, prosciutto and soppressata, mountains of marinated olives and golden crostini, a sweet-and-zesty fig mostarda, and two types of cheese -- a salty, nutty Parmigiano-Reggiano and tangy, sharp white cheddar. It was a lot to tackle with two people, but we did so happily as we ordered another bottle of wine -- this time a pleasantly fruity 2007 Steele Pinot Noir ($25).
Easing into our chairs, we relaxed for a moment before our entrées -- a split between the gnocchi ($20) and seasonal vegetable ($7) -- arrived.
The house-made, fluffed and incredibly delicate gnocchi -- or as I'll now refer to them, clouds -- came seared and spotted in a bowl with a generous heap of freshly made soft and creamy ricotta and plump, meaty oyster mushrooms. The bright and citrusy toasted sage and the rich, earthy truffle broth rounded out the flavors, making the whole dish a little piece of heaven. After our clouds and a bowl of some of the best roasted vegetables I've ever had, we were ready to call it a night.
I wish that we could have continued our journey along the menu, but that's all the reason to come back. I have my eye out on the hand-made pizzas and decadent spaghetti carbonara.