Laurann Claridge | Photos by Linguine alla vongole at Coppa Osteria. Photo by Debora Smail.
- November 25, 2013
Clark Cooper Concepts — aka chef Charles Clark and Grant Copper, who brought us Ibiza, Brasserie 19 and Coppa — has tweaked their Italian-inspired eatery to create Coppa Osteria. This hyper-chic cousin of the Washington Avenue original is a family-friendly concept, meant no doubt to lure West U 30- and 40-somethings with kids to the new Hanover residential and retail building looming over Rice Village. While there is a kids’ menu, the powers that be have ratcheted up both the sophistication of the food (thanks to chef Brandi Key) and the sleek environs with teal, parakeet yellow and brass lighting and details care of design mind Julie McGarr. Bare wood tables are poised in a wide dining room with soaring ceilings and windows. Sit and gaze into the gleaming open kitchen or the glassed-in fishbowl called the Dough Room where, day and night, cooks push out house-made pasta and plenty of pizza dough to accommodate the walk-up pizza-by-the slice window just beside the alfresco dining area. Starters include salumi, such as slices of subtle San Daniele prosciutto ($12). From the small-plate selections, we tried meatballs al forno ($14) — three marinara-covered spheres so tender that any Italian nonna would be proud. We found them astonishingly moist and flavorsome, given the absence of pork or veal (nothing but all beef here). Pizza offerings ($14 to $21) include all the expected varieties, as well as pies dotted with cured meats like the Coppa ham and egg — this one made with the eponymous air-dried pork shoulder and quail eggs. Swoon-worthy house-made pastas included a Bolognese smartly topped with a dollop of whipped ricotta and mingled with unexpected conchiglie (shell-style) pasta ($22) and a rich spaghetti carbonara ($21) ladled tableside with parmesan cream sauce. Desserts ($8 to $9) are the sort that end an Italian feast perfectly, such as cannoli and a light, luscious warm lemon pudding. 5210 Morningside, Rice Village, 713.522.3535; coppaosteriahouston.com.