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Oct 24, 1998 02:00 AM

I Coppi -- New Tuscan in the East Village

  • d

Full Disclosure Upfront: I'm about to recommend a new restaurant owned and operated by two friends. Because they are friends, and I've seen them work on gathering the funds for five years, and think about what they wanted to see in a restaurant for much longer, and because I like them so much, I can't be objective.

The two friends are Lorella and John. Lorella is from Tuscany and has worked in the front of many high-profile Italian restaurants in town (e.g., Le Madri, Orso, Osteria al Doge) and was dismayed at how little authentic Tuscan food was served in New York. John is a carpenter by profession, and he tranformed what was a bleak space on 432 East 9th St. (between A and 1st) into a lovely restaurant (don't miss the basement (check out the bathrooms and wine cellar).

They've built the restaurant they've dreamed of and it's a wonderful place to visit now, when it isn't too crowded. It's not cheap by Chowhound standards. Appetizers are in the high one digits; pastas in the teens (all pastas can be ordered as half-portions for appetizers); entrees in the mid-teens to low twenties; pizzas and foccacinas in the low teens.

John has compiled an excellent wine list (he hunts for values, and although Italian Reds are not cheap, the markup is fair), and serves some of the better wines by the glass for $8.

One of the waiters, Vincent, is a fabulous guy. Trust anything he recommends. And if it isn't served to you automatically, try to beg for some complimentary foccacia. It's fabulous.

Don't expect oversauced, overspiced, or overly complex food here -- this reminds me, dare I say it, of food I ate in Tuscany. This isn't food to make you see stars. It is food to soothe and satisfy. This is a place where you can enjoy your food and wine and linger.

They are open for dinner 7 days a week and brunch on the weekend. Please feel free to tell Lorella and John that I sent you. If nothing else, it might get you some of that foccacia along with their other good bread. Phone is 254-2263.

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  1. f
    Frank Language

    Dear Dave: I thank you for your [totally biased]
    recommendation of I Coppi. Since we live
    only about a block away, it was only a matter of time;
    plus, I've heard raves from people in
    the neighborhood who've been there.

    And our waiter tonight was Vincent; because I mentioned
    your name, we also met John, who
    came over to our table. (I'm a firm believer in the
    "good-old-boy" network.) We also got an
    order of the focaccia. And at your recommendation, I
    made sure to go down and check out the
    bathrooms, which are not your everyday bathrooms - I
    particularly love the cast-iron sinks.
    Because I remember this restaurant from when it was
    Café No Bar, I'm doubly impressed.
    Although I miss the rough-hewn look No Bar had, what
    the space has become is undeniably

    And the food: every course was absolutely wonderful. I
    call it "culinary nirvana" when food is
    able to bring me to an altered state, and this was
    definitely a peak experience. I had the seafood
    stew, and my partner had the pasta with pesto; here it
    was pignoli sauce with only a hint of
    basil - unusual and good. To finish we shared the
    tiramisu, which I have to say is better than
    any tiramisu I've had - light, and wth the right
    balance of chocolate, not too sweet.

    So I'm totally biased now, too. I must say, we couldn't
    get reservations for Valentine's day
    because they were totally booked; I'm just as glad,
    because tonight they weren't as crowded as
    last night. We'll be back.