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Fearless Critic restaurant review
Italian, Pizza
Upmarket restaurant

Mon–Thu 6:00pm–11:00pm
Fri–Sat 5:00pm–midnight
Sun 5:00pm–10:00pm

Features Date-friendly, good wines, veg-friendly
Bar Beer, wine, liquor
Credit cards Visa, MC, AmEx
Reservations Accepted


U Street
1414 U St. NW
Washington, DC
(202) 319-7773
Coppi’s Organic
Authentic Italian in a subterranean hideaway: one of the icons of the new U Street

Coppi’s is one in a row of U Street nooks whose atmosphere can change dramatically depending on your mood. The small space, with a carved bar and wood-fired oven in the back, can feel wonderfully intimate in the winter, or cramped in the summertime. When it’s nice outside, the dark wood and dimly lit, richly scented interior can be a little overwhelming.

But the restaurant’s décor is captivating. Coppi’s (whose name derives from a legendary Italian bicyclist) is clearly run by a set of nationalist packrats: every inch of two walls is lined with paraphernalia from the Italian National Cycling team. Photos stack upon photos, punctuated by a few blue-and-white jerseys. The effect is certainly striking, but something about the package seems excessively vain. Take the wood-burning oven: its prime location behind the bar seems to benefit the customers more than the cooks, who must scuttle out of their way to reach it. Is it equipment or mere embellishment?

Your waitstaff is likely to be a team of three or four strapping young Italians, who switch positions as the meal progresses: one might bring your drinks, the next your appetizers, and the third your pizza. By the end of the meal, you almost feel as if Coppi himself should emerge, triumphantly, from the rear of the drafting line to bring you your check.

Just to reiterate, having real, live Italians—not third-generation Italian-Americans—cooking and serving your Italian meal is a very good thing. And while not all is perfect at Coppi’s, the authenticity goes a long way, beginning with the well-chosen Italian wine selection. (Even if we, like the Italians, prefer our pizza with a beer.)

Appetizers include good charcuterie, but Coppi’s is really known for its pizzas, which are cooked in a fairly authentic wood-burning brick oven. Their hallmark is exceedingly thin crusts. If 2 Amys is going for a thicker Neapolitan theme, Coppi’s seems to be mimicking Italy’s north, where cracker-thin crusts are more the norm. We like them, even if the crust goes so far in the thin direction at times that it approaches the texture of a saltine cracker. The Saraceno is topped with excellent spiced lamb, mint, and boldly smoked mozzarella.

Even if salads are disappointing and the organic shtick only goes far, a well-textured, authentic pizza in a fun, warm atmosphere make for one of our favorite ways to spend an easy night. The confluence of these things is a surprising rarity around here.

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