Brother-sister business partners, Paul and Aileen Reilly, the duo behind Beast + Bottle, are opening are opening the doors of their new Uptown eatery, Coperta, today at 5 p.m. A casual, large format concept, Coperta took shape after the siblings traveled through Southern Italy last summer, exploring regional specialties and quaint village hospitality.
Primarily focused on cuisine from Rome and southern Italy, Paul Reilly most readily refers to the menu as "rustic," with simple dishes, freckled with Colorado references.
To start, the "mozz bar" is the centerpiece of the second room and a leftover focal point from Jonesy's Eatbar. Emerging from the cold kitchen are two choices of mozzarella balls, either a Caputo Brothers version, house-made and pulled from grass-fed curds, or an imported D.O.P.-certified cheese from Campania, which legally must be shipped fresh in its own whey. To accompany the cheese, guests can choose sides such as bread, pesto or peperonata. Reilly calls the De Carlo that appears with the mozzarella the "Cadillac" of olive oils, available only by request.
The menu is divided into six additional sections, starting with the Spuzzulia, an unlisted assortment of "a lot of little things," – either five or eight small dishes – that will rotate regularly. The Antipasti portion of the menu includes olives, traditional octopus with cannelloni beans, and a salumi board with meats from Salumeria Biellese in New York. Pastas, which are primarily dried, as per the regional paradigm, come in half or full portion sizes, and range from Cacio e Pepe to the Paccheri, a large tube pasta soaked in a monkfish sumo.
On his travels, Reilly notes he continually came across fish-broth pastas, and once he finally tested one, he was hooked. The Secondi section includes a whole fish, which will start with a snapper, but will depend on whatever fresh catches come in that day. Siders are all seasonal and (for now) vegetarian. Desserts range from house-made biscotti to a potato donut and pears and prunes braised in red wine, a traditional sweet finisher.
Chef Bob Blair, most recently chef-owner at Fuel Cafe, joined Reilly in the 12-person kitchen as chef de cuisine. Paul and Aileen will now split their time between their two Uptown eateries. Beast + Bottle bar manager Jon Feuersanger has crafted a beverage program to complement the Italian cuisine. On-tap cocktails include a Negroni, made with Malfy gin from Torino and infused with citrus from the Amalfi Coast. An Aperol spritz and Sgroppino are on-tap as well as three Italian wines – red, white and pink.
Coperta, meaning blanket in Italian, is imagined to be a warm neighborhood hangout for friends and family to gather over a simple bowl of pasta and conversation. The eatery will open seven days a week starting tonight from 5 p.m. to 9:30 on weeknights and open until 10:30 on weekends. Lunch hours will be added in the coming weeks as well as a next-door, walk-up espresso bar, including pastries, to-go-sandwiches and more.