I had dinner at Coppa last night again. I think that on any day of the week, this is one of the best dining experiences in Houston.
I don’t eat there super often—mainly because I don’t anywhere super often. Being in the industry leads me to trying lots of different things all the time. But when I’m in the mood to go somewhere I know I’ll like, I often find myself at Coppa. Why?
Coppa does something that is incredibly difficult to do for independent restaurateurs: It inspires trust. When I dine out, I usually enter expecting to be disappointed. At the wine, at the selection and execution of the dishes, at the service, at the execution of the most basic cocktails. The first time I ate at Coppa I expected to be let down, but by the end I was surprised about how right everything was.
To illustrate: I have a long-held theory that the Caesar salad is the most uninspiring dish in American cuisine. Of course, its roots are Italian, but you can find a Caesar at every chain restaurant and every diner in the US. When I saw the Caesar on the menu at Coppa, I ordered it. Fresh, crisp, romaine. White anchovies. House-made dressing and croutons. It was as good as any Caesar could be. And the presentation wasn’t that predictable “big pile of chopped romaine” that you see everywhere.
A couple quick things that most other restaurants get wrong that they nail: Cocktails and wine. I can’t tell you how often I have to tell a bartender not to shake my Manhattan. Not at Coppa. There’s an understanding and appreciation for cocktails behind the bar that is lost in most restaurants. And while I have some knowledge of wine, I’m not extremely well-versed on Italians. Last night, I asked my server about an Italian red for around $50, and he gave me several options, discussing each one. We finally decided on one that I really enjoyed.
While I can’t say that I love the force-valet, I do see how it fits their demographic, and it is technically free and convenient.
Every time I leave Coppa, I feel satisfied, and I don’t feel ripped off. That’s my takeaway, and it’s something that so many restaurants don’t seem to do well. What restaurants have inspired your trust?