Paul and Aileen Reilly, siblings and partners extraordinaire at Beast + Bottle, are finally ready to unveil details of their upcoming restaurant, Coperta. Until a recent chat, the two have kept the particulars of the new Uptown restaurant under wraps. The chef chatted with Eater to share everything from design to menus to name and there are a lot of reasons to be excited for what's to come in early 2016.
Coperta, a name that means blanket in Italian, is envisioned as a neighborhood spot that, much like an Italian trattoria, would be as fit for group of friends gathering as it would for a solo bowl of pasta and glass of wine.
Mainly focused on the food of Rome and the South of Italy, the restaurant that will occupy the former Jonesy's space, will focus on seasonal ingredients. While Beast + Bottle is also strongly influenced by ingredients du jour, Coperta will take a rustic approach to crafting more simple dishes centered around vegetables, pastas, and fish.
"The food of the South Italy is not remotely high end food," Paul Reilly explained. "It is peasant food. In that part of the country, meat, for example, is not the norm or focus, but rather something that would be highlighted as animals were slaughtered. The pastas in the South are vastly different than those in the North, where eggs were more readily available," he added.
The menu at Coperta will be divided into seven sections. The opening act is the spizzulia, which is Neapolitan slang for "eat a lot of different things," according to Reilly. Some of the things the chef found in this format during a trip to Italy are potato fritters, stuffed mozzarella, bean stews, whatever showcased regionality and seasonality and the kitchen's whim that day.
For the Antipasti, the Uptown restaurant is planning to offer a fritto misto, Roman spiadino, fried artichoke, and meatball plate, among others. The big three Roman pastas — caccio e peppe. Amatriciana, carbonara — will ground the Primi section with additions orecchiette with broccoli rabe or braised monk fish pasta. For the Secondi, guests can expect to see the Tagliata, a beef ribeye, and a fish that will change with availability, plus an Abruzzi-style spicy lamb shoulder, all cooked on a wood grill. The Contorni will feature seasonal sides while the Dolci will keep things simple with items like profiteroles.
A major highlight will be the Mozzarella section, the cheese of Campagna, that could be ordered as a ball with a variety of accouterments, some 8 or 9 of them, ranging from tomatoes to prosciutto.
The 115 seat space is being designed by KD Fikso, who also created the interior at Beast + Bottle. Darker woods will be featured, balanced with soft Mediterranean tones of yellow, green, and red. The Reillys are aiming for a pantry-style look dotted with pottery and jars, a similar aesthetic to that of many restaurants in the south of Italy. Bonus: There will be a little door on 20th Street that will serve a to go counter bringing espresso, salumi sandwiches, and other items that one would perhaps find in a European train station.
The Reillys, who owned Encore before the popular Beast + Bottle, are ready for a new challenge and a new approach. "It is somewhat mundane to say I love Italian food, but it is the truth and it is a big influence on my cooking and my career. It is what I grew up with, New York Italian food. Both Aileen and I fell in love with it more the more we studied both the food and the wine," shared the chef.
Weekday lunch will be served at Coperta with dinner service seven nights a week.