[编辑 Editor 吕大人 英译 Translator 刘大人 摄影 Photographer 刘大人]
Tiramisu – a traditional afternoon (and literally) ”pick me up” or ”cheer me up” has always brought much joy and tears to its adoring fans, including yours truly. While we don’t proclaim to be an expert on Italian cuisine, a good tiramisu to us may or may not contains alcohol, but the sponge fingers ought to be adequately soaked in rich coffee. While its origins are often disputed among the different Italian regions, many also questioned the authenticity of adding alcohol, even among our local foodies’ circle. What better way to put this argument to rest than to hear it from Stefan Mintchev, a restauranteur and chef-owner of Coppola that many swore to serve the best tiramisu in town?
Besides, when an Italian restaurant is run by an Italian, we know the food is authentic and of a certain quality.
“REAL tiramisu cannot be without alcohol,” declared Stefan in his Italian-Bulgarian accent!
While we would not doubt Stefan‘s passion for serving authentic cuisine that he grew up with, some of us actually beg to differ having spent time in Italy ourselves. To us, a tiramisu without mascarpone cheese AND the savoiardi (Italian ladyfinger) is definitely not legit! As tiramisu evolved with as many variations as there are Italians and non-Italians making it today, we are not about to start another argument but rather partake in delightful conversations to celebrate this decadent dessert, traditional or otherwise. 😄
Opened in 2014, the pizzeria with a Mediterranean-inspired and homey interior presents an ideal getaway from the hustle and bustle of the city to enjoy homely Italian cooking, combined with the wholehearted passion put in by Stefan and his team.
As a demonstration of his determination, Coppola has installed a traditional wood-fire oven shipped in from Italy to bake a variety of pizza and bread on their menu. What impressed the most, however, is Stefan‘s unwavering trust in his co-workers, many of which were with him since day one. Having imparted his knowledge and skills without holding anything back, his team of well-trained chefs and cooking assistants is more than capable of serving up classic Italian food with his touch and creativity.
Bulgari Salad + Caprese Salad
Our meal starts with a couple of refreshing cold salads huge in Mediterranean flavours, with an overly generous avalanche of grated feta cheese nearly covering the chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, onions and roasted capsicum making up the Bulgari Salad. We had to rub our eyes and looked twice as this starter hardly resembles any platter of greens we are more accustomed to.
Thank goodness, the Caprese Salad restored some familiarity with a thick slab of savoury buffalo Mozzarella cheese resting on a slice of juicy tomato topped with olive oil and pesto dressing.
Kjufte + Prawns with Bacon
For the warm appetisers, the Kjufte and Prawns with Bacon come highly recommended!
Don’t miss out on the Kyufte which aren’t our typical meatballs! Made with minced pork and flattened on the grill, these fragrant “Bulgarian meatballs” are hugely flavourful, unlike anything we’ve ever had and come with a dip of a special house sauce.
When we sank our teeth into the pan-fried whole Prawns wrapped in a strip of bacon, we could understand why this is another popular choice for appetisers, even though we liken this to be a main dish on its own.
Homemade Ravioli with Mushroom Sauce
Next up, Homemade Ravioli with Mushroom Sauce or what we called the Italian wanton. Stuffed with a fine paste of fresh ricotta and spinach drizzled with mushroom sauce, we quite like the combination that gave the dish an earthy yet umami flavour. We also felt that the overall texture would be better if the skin of the ravioli could be slightly thinner.
Spaghetti Aglio Olio e Gamberi
Our eyes lit up with delight at the sight of a whole plump prawn perched on top of the Spaghetti Aglio Olio e Gamberi, and the dish certainly lived up to its name. The pasta was cooked al dente, with the right amount of roasted garlic and chilli flakes to elevate the flavour of the dish. We also love the freshness of the seafood and the addition of pine nuts giving a crunch to every bite.
Coppola uses a thin crust base for their pizza, which can be pretty nice if it’s crisp and firm, and Stefan challenged us to put his freshly-baked flatbread to the test, such was his confidence in his own creations. True to his words and loaded with bacon, ham, chorizo, mushrooms, mozzarella cheese and chilli, their signature Pizza Francis hardly bend beyond 15 degrees from the weight of its ingredients, a real sign of a quality pizza indeed!
Pizza Al Fruiti de Mare
On the other hand, the Pizza Al Fruiti de Mare is equally laden with fresh seafood such as prawn, squid, fish and just the right amount mozzarella cheese, making it an absolute treat and a popular choice among its regulars.
For those cravings for extra toppings, feel free to take your pick from up to 24 options ranging from RM9 to RM18 each, with the pizza available in 9″ (individual size) and 13″ (family size) for sharing.
Sea Bass in Citrus Fruits Sauce + Lamb ala Toscana
Our heads were turned as we detected the enticing aromas wafting all around us just even before the Sea Bass in Citrus Fruits Sauce was served. Lying on a bed of sautéed spinach, the flesh of the fish was moist, flakey and naturally sweet while the accompanying sauce helped to enhance the sweetness of the fish further. The sides of chunky grilled potato and tomatoes soaking up the sauce also add to the satisfaction.
As for the Lamb ala Toscana, the marinated meat couldn’t be more juicy and fall-off-the-bone tender. After all, the lamb shank was baked for over 12 hours, so it’s hardly surprising that the meat was succulent, supple and fell off the bone the minute we prodded its skin with our fork. Served with a side of risotto done well, tossed with mushrooms and roasted vegetables, this is another hallmark of an excellent Italian eatery!
Crepe Suzette & Tiramisu
No proper meal is complete without something sweet, but in Coppola, dessert is almost customary rather than optional, especially when the pizzeria boasts arguably the best Tiramisu in town. Steeped in a blend of three liqueurs and espresso, with the moistness of the sponge fingers almost perfetto, what more could we ask for?
We were also treated to a special flambé performance done tableside upon serving of the Crepe Suzette, none other than by Stefan himself. With the chef-owner at the helm of it all, expectations are naturally high as we watch earnestly as he step-by-step, squeeze fresh orange juice into the pan to caramelise the citrus sauce and added liqueur to flambe the pancakes. Served warm from the sizzling pan, the Crepe Suzette certainly lives up to its reputation and definitely a dish for the alcohol lovers.
As Stefan outlines his ambitious plans about the range of new restaurants opening here, including a Turkish restaurant, Caribbean cafe & cocktail bar, whiskey & wine speciality store joining the likes of Sofia Di Stefano (Mediterranean bistro & bar), Istanbul (Turkish restaurant) and Havana (Mexican cafe) already lining the street of Jalan Hijauan 3, he seems to be on a mission to establish Horizon Hills as a preferred dining destination, starting with Coppola!
Watch this SPACE!
Coppola Family Pizzeria & Wine Bar
📍 1, Jalan Hijauan 3, Horizon Hills, 79100 Iskandar Puteri, Johor
📞 +607-509 5527
🕙 Tuesday to Sunday, 12 noon to midnight (Break: 3.00pm – 5.30pm). Closed on Mondays
💻 Coppola Family Pizzeria & Wine Bar