Fresh Dough Spotlighted
While McGarr employed eclectic furnishings, vintage accessories and vibrant colors to create a warmly sophisticated residential style, Cooper and Clark, with executive chef Brandi Key, incorporated some unique operational aspects at Coppa Osteria. In addition to a large expo kitchen, the space includes a glassed-in Dough Room and a walk-up pizza-by-the-slice window.
A prominent feature in the dining room, the Dough Room's design lets guests observe Key's staff at work making fresh pasta and pizza dough. The roughly 300-square-foot space includes a 14-foot, 100-year-old wooden dough table. "It's a working part of our kitchen operation," Cooper says, "but we also make the Dough Room available for larger groups — up to 14 guests — to have special private dinners there."
"The whole design of the restaurant actually started with the Dough Room," McGarr adds. "Grant, Charles and Brandi wanted a space that would put a spotlight on the fresh pasta making and the fresh dough used in the pizzas. It's a big part of the show and is the one thing I planned the whole design around. As we started to see the room come together in construction we added design elements to it, like the large chalkboard sign fronting the top wall of the space and the brass light fixtures that illuminate the board."
Those light fixtures fit the style of others used throughout the space — simple in design but warm in finish. Along with the chairs, lighting was among the more expensive of the design details, McGarr says. "We used a furniture fabricator who created the fixtures. I used them in asymmetrical format so it feels like there are chandeliers over the tables. It was another way to bring warmth and dimension to the space."
Retro-style neon signage and a striped awning work together on the building's exterior to flag the pizza-by-the-slice window, another unique feature. Through the window pedestrians and guests utilizing the outdoor seating area can order slices of featured varieties of Coppa's signature Neapolitan-style pizza. "It's a great feature for the neighborhood," Cooper says. "We have a lot of families nearby and there are always people meandering around shopping in the area."
The window, positioned to the left of the main restaurant entrance, is serviced through a small kitchen area at one end of the bar wall, which runs along the left interior.
Energy from the Outside In
The pizza-by-the-slice window is just one of the key exterior elements that the Coppa Osteria team incorporated into its design. Natural-looking boxwood tile covers the restaurant's front façade. It's another strategy that McGarr says was employed both to create a distinctive look and feel and to add some comfort and warmth to a brand-new building.
Wrapping around the restaurant's prime corner location is a spacious
outdoor patio set off from the main sidewalk by a low, curved brick wall. "This location was particularly attractive because it is a corner and gave us the ability to have a big outdoor patio space on two sides," Cooper says. "It gives us double the exposure and creates a lot of energy for the concept from the outside in."
With seating for 80, the patio was designed for comfort, even during Houston's sizzling hot summers. Large market-style umbrellas in Osteria's bright yellow color provide shade and tabletops are epoxy coated to keep them cool. McGarr adds, "We were careful to design the space — both inside and out — to be both distinctive and comfortable year-round."
- Grant Cooper, Charles Clark, Principals, Clark Cooper Concepts
- Brandi Key, Executive Chef
- Julie McGarr, Julie McGarr Design & Interiors
- Leo Parker, Parker Project Management & Construction
- Jerry Alexander, Acumen Design, Branding & Imagery
- Location: Houstononcept: Casual, authentic Italian
- Menu: Small plates, Neapolitan-style pizza, fresh pasta, soups, salads, sandwiches
- Size: 5,700 square feet
- Seats: 250 (150 inside, 80 patio, 20 bar)
- Features: Glassed-in Dough Room, expo kitchen, walk-up pizza-by-the-slice window, sidewalk patio
- Décor highlights: Residential-style furnishings/accessories, bright blue and yellow accent colors, warm woods, wine walls, brushed brass, large painted antique mirror frames, brass candelabras, chalkboard signage
- Price points: Entrees $20-$27, pizzas $14-$22; small plates $9-$15
- Buildout: 3-4 months
- Website: www.coppaosteriahouston.com