Bob Blair (of the late Fuel Cafe) lands at Coperta.
A few months ago, Paul Reilly, chef and co-owner of Beast & Bottle  and the pending Coperta, bought a wine cuvée at an auction. When he noticed that it was from Fuel Cafe, which closed in December, he texted Fuel owner Bob Blair. “I said ‘Hey, I think I got your wine cuvée. You should come by and check out the [Coperta] spot,’” Reilly says.
That simple interaction grew from a drop-in visit to Reilly ultimately hiring Blair as Coperta’s chef de cuisine. The southern Italian restaurant, which will open this summer, is taking over the late-Jonesy’s/Centennial Tavern space in Curtis Park. The two chefs’ styles of cooking and sourcing have long paralleled each other, so much so that they often had similar seasonal offerings on their menus. “It feels very organic how this all fell into place,” Reilly says. "Bob and I have always enjoyed talking about food together and we have similar ideas, styles, and techniques.”
Coperta’s menu will pay homage to southern Italian tradition with rustic, simple, and comfortable food (Coperta means blanket in Italian). The affordable menu—plan on $3 on the low end and $22 on the high end—will include antipasti like imported buffalo mozzarella and a pulled-to order grass-fed version; primi; secondi; and roughly 10 pastas. As a nod to Rome’s Thursday gnocchi tradition (that’s the day the pasta is made), Coperta will only serve gnocchi on Thursdays.
“Instead of reinventing the wheel,” Blair says. “We’re going to do what people have been doing for centuries and just put our twist on it.” Look for Coperta to open this summer.
Bonus: For Fuel fans, Blair is currently cooking at Beast & Bottle a couple nights a week.
Coperta, 400 E. 20th Ave., 303-863-7473
Beast & Bottle, 719 E. 17th Ave., 303-623-3223