I first heard about Osteria Coppa when it was just opening and all my food-based newsletters were talking about the new restaurant and its highly talented executive chef, Chanan Kamen, who spent the last 5 years at Quince in San Francisco. I have to be honest that its location in San Mateo kind of placed it a little bit lower on the “must try” list, but seeing as Pdho and I usually meet up with Mr. and Mrs. N Squared in San Mateo, we eventually found an opportunity to check this place out.
The restaurant is located a few blocks from 3rd Ave., the main strip of downtown San Mateo, but I think this allows them to command a larger square footage to set up shop. The restaurant was pretty much full and included a spectrum ranging from large groups to couples of all looks and age ranges. I found it quite interesting, because the bar scene seemed to be similar to what I would have expected to see at a typical restaurant in SF, but there were quite a few families and older folks dining as well.
We decided to share the appetizers and started with a Beet Salad, which I know is always a favorite of Pdho’s. The beets were mixed with slices of potatoes and some mixed greens which were all dressed in a lemony vinaigrette. It was light and refreshing, and I liked the addition of the potatoes to the salad.
I was hoping the Lobster Puffs would be better than they were. I think I was imagining something like the seafood puff pastry that I had at La Briciola, but they sadly paled in comparison. The concept was fine, but I felt like the puff was a little too bready and there wasn’t enough lobster filling nor tomato sauce to bring out any interesting taste. I was really left wanting more.
The Fritto Misto consisted of calamari, petrale sole, fennel, and meyer lemons. You read that right. The meyer lemons weren’t there for some acidity to break up the oiliness of the seafood. They actually deep-fried the lemons as well which was actually quite interesting. Pdho thought it was okay, but I gave this dish higher marks because there was a variety of other seafood besides just calamari and it all tasted good.
The pizza was pretty good although I think with pork sausage and speck, it actually ended up tasting quite salty. The pizza dough wasn’t too thick and it was quite crispy. For a pizza, I thought it was slightly above average.
Pasta dishes are supposed to be strengths of Osteria Coppa, and I have to say that as far as the pasta itself, both of the ones we had were good. They were perfectly al dente with the right kind of chewiness that makes you know you’re eating housemade pasta.
The tagliolini came with scallops, English peas and mint, and although I ordered it, I don’t think it was as tasty as the other one. The scallops were chopped a little too small and the mint-flavored sauce just tasted a little bit odd.
Not only was did the thicker tagliatelle have a much more interesting texture, but the bolognese sauce was much more delicious. The meat sauce was rich and flavorful, and I really wanted more of it.
Overall, I enjoyed the food, but I don’t think it lived up to my expectations. In fact, I think I talked about it too much that for Pdho, it fell a little flat for him. I still think that there is something to be said about the pasta, because the Tagliatelle Bolognese was quite delicious. The rest of the food is also pretty good, but it probably doesn’t stand out as much as I thought it would considering the chef’s pedigree and the reviews. I would still want to give the restaurant a second try though particularly with some of the other pastas, because I saw glimmers throughout the meal that tell me there is more to be tasted.
139 S B St
San Mateo, CA 94401
PAFO Ratings for Osteria Coppa:
Price 3 stars
Ambiance 3 stars
Food 3½ stars
Overall rating 3 stars