Man Food: Meaty Sandwich Perfection at Coppa

The Italian grinder at this South End staple is one of our favorite sandwiches in town. Here’s why.

By | Chowder |
Coppa

photos by Katie Chudy for Boston magazine.

At Ken Oringer and Jamie Bissonnette’s South End enoteca Coppa, it’d be easy to load up on a variety of small Italian bar snacks, salumi, and excellent wood-fired pizza—and there would not be a thing wrong with that approach. But you could also go the more substantial route, and dive right into the Italian Grinder, a $13 beast of a sandwich that reiterates all that is right with the world.

Few things in this life are more satisfying than a simple application of meat, cheese and bread. But it’s the right (or wrong) combination of these elements that can make or break a sandwich right from the get-go. There is nothing dainty or clean about Coppa’s Italian grinder, but it is a slightly more refined version than the equally gratifying and meat-packed sandwich you’ll find throughout the North End. The sandwich is jammed with the cured meat trifecta of salami, prosciutto, and mortadella, and it’s finished with a generous helping of provolone cheese and pickled cherry peppers. Each bite is a salty, briny adventure, accented with the fatty undertones of the cured meats. The pickled cherry peppers bring the heat and the melted provolone blankets it all, encompassing the sliced meats with sharp and nutty notes.

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The salami, prosciutto, and mortadella, of course, are all a solid notch above your standard meats at the deli counter. These are cured in-house and sliced paper thin, which allows the fat in the meats to slowly melt and dissolve on the tongue, adding a level of luxury to a sandwich that isn’t supposed to be this good. A healthy layer of lettuce balances the texture of the soft meat, remaining crunchy throughout despite a good splash of oil and vinegar. The bread, sort of a ciabatta-focaccia hybrid, is fresh, crackly-crisp and just barely-toasted, delivering the right amount of chew and tenderness.

The Italian grinder at Coppa is one of the better sandwiches in town, and it’s easily a top contender in its humble genre of cured meats, cheese, pickled peppers, and bread. Classically prepared yet politely put together, it’s a tidy package that is completely self-contained. No soggy bread or teeth shattering crust to speak of, this is a well-made and well executed sandwich at its finest.

Coppa, 253 Shawmut Ave., 617-391-0902, coppaboston.com