50 Years in Business

2011 will be 50 years that we have been in business. It is confusing with all the different Coppola’s in the area. We happen to be the original one. The success of the original restaurant allowed the family to expand.

Originally we were located on 273 Main Street and then moved to the current location. It wasn’t by choice. The city of Poughkeepsie as part of their urban renewal knocked down several buildings. Ours was one of them. So we were forced to look elsewhere to continue our business.

So in 1979 the city of Poughkeepsie forced us out of our building and we  moved to upper Main Street in the town of Poughkeepsie taking with us alot of history. We have had the same phone number for 50 years. We are still operating under the same corporation started in 1961.

Throughout the years we have modernized our facility and  gotten many facelifts. But for nostalgia sake we have kept some artifacts for reminders of the roots of our success. Keeping some of the original plates and some of the original pots is a daily reminder.

We have an antique scale that we used to weigh all our meats on.  We have the original industrial size mixer. It still works. Amazing that things made 50 years ago are of such good quality. We even brought our steam table with us and built the kitchen around it!   Some of the original chairs do come out from time to time. If you look on our brick walls we have gold statues that we brought along with us. Those from from the Rialto Theater that we started in 50 years ago.

Throughout our many years in business we have weathered the ups and downs of the economy. Right now we are experiencing another valley. But because of the lessons taught by my father as he started a business from scratch (which was built on hard work and perseverance) we will climb up this valley too. I will be writing on this blog different memories from our experiences in the business. So stay tuned. Not  focusing  primarily on our family history but I will write about some of the interesting people we have met along the way.

Westfair Online, July 15, 2011

“After 50 years at a pair of locations in Poughkeepsie – the defunct Rialto Theater originally and more-familiarly at 825 Main Street – Coppola’s Trattoria and Bar will close to diners July 30. The owners are moving to grocery shelves with a new business plan featuring recipes that have been popular Coppola’s mainstays for decades.”
Link to the article.

Press Coverage of Coppola’s Original Restaurant

Images of Coppola’s Original Restaurant at the Rialto Theater

Famous Guests

“Wonderful, Fragrant, Fresh”

Dear Teresa,
We tried it out — still warm — last night. It was terrific. Wonderful, fragrant, fresh — and a beautiful color, too. Tasted completely homemade, which of course it was. I wish you very good luck with this venture.
Thank you for thinking of us.
Vincent L. Teahan, Teahan & Constantino, Counsellors at Law

Menus from the 1960s

Pasta e Fagioli (Pasta Fazul napolitana)

*Ditalini, which means “little thimbles” in Italian, is most typically used in the Campania region of Italy, where it graces Pasta E Fagioli. It’s a small tubular shaped pasta. The nutty flavor and firm “al dente” texture is a great addition to this Italian bean soup! Nothing like a hot bowl of Pasta e Fagioli to warm your bones on a cold winter day. I grew up this soup! The only thing you need for this soup is patience. Patience to soak the beans overnight and then patience to simmer the soup. But it is an easy recipe!

Fresh tomatoesIngredients:
2 cups soaked great northern bean (dry beans, then soaked overnight) or two 15 oz cannellini beans
1/2 large chopped onion
2 stalks chopped celery
1 cup 825 Main Marinara Sauce
2 Tbl extra virgin olive oil
4 cups water
1/2 lb ditalini pasta*

In a large pot saute onion and celery in 2 tbs of EVOO till opaque. Add rinsed soaked beans. Add water and Marinara Sauce. Simmer for 2 hours, cook ditalini in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente, tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 minute. Add pasta to soup according to how much you would like. I always cook pasta separately and then add it when I am ready to serve. I love my pasta al denti. But it’s all according to how you like your pasta. If you like your pasta soft you can finish warming it up in the soup. But remember the pasta absorbs the liquid the longer you cook it in the soup.

Prep time: 15 minutes/overnight
Cooking time: 2 hours
Serves 4-6

Fra Diavolo Sauce

Fra diavolo, means “brother devil” in Italian,  is the name given to a number of spicy sauces, usually tomato-based, used in American Italian cooking.  Fra diavolo sauce is served  simply over pasta but most are prepared with one or more types of shellfish.  Coppola’s Restaurant has always served it featuring dishes like Calamari, Shrimp, clams, mussels and lobster Fra Diavolo.

Fresh tomatoesEven though “Fra Diavolo” is referred to as a Mediterranean specialty,  fra diavolo sauce popular in America’s thousands of Italian restaurants was actually developed in the US. While there are hot dishes called “devilled” or “alla diavolo” in other regions in Europe, there’s no similar tradition in southern Italian cooking. Italians are very fussy when it comes to their food so the robust spiciness of most fra diavolo sauces is enough to overpower many delicate shellfishes, especially lobster or scallops.  My dad in keeping with the popularity of “Fra Diavolo” sauce in America was always careful on how spicy he made the sauce because it was important that his customers taste the wonderful fresh taste of the seafood.

One 25 oz jar 825 MAIN Marinara Sauce
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/3 cup sherry or white wine

In a heavy large skillet add 1 jar of Marinara Sauce. Add  crushed red  pepper flakes and wine  and simmer 15 minutes. Pour over your favorite cooked pasta.  Add more crushed red pepper flakes if you would like it hotter. Seafood can be added to Fra Diavolo sauce by using the procedure for adding mussels and clams as described in the Mussels in Marinara Sauce and Zuppe di Clams Marinara recipes.

Prep time: 5 minutes
Serves 4

Putanesca Sauce

The history of the puttanesca sauce is interesting. Some say, because of the Italian translation of the name, puttanesca, which means prostitute, a whore’s favorite meal. But I know a much likelier version of this history from my mom’s home town, the island of Ischia. Apparently, it was late one night and clients showed up to their favorite restaurant in Ischia, Italy. The owner quickly informed them he was about to close and thus didn’t have anything to serve them…The clients, being very hungry as they were, simply replied, “Facci una puttanata qualsiasi”, meaning just cook us anything! So the owner turned around and using what he had left in his kitchen, he improvised that night and created the puttanesca sauce!

One 25 oz jar 825 MAIN Marinara Sauce
1 Tbl extra virgin olive oil
5 anchovy filets packed in olive oil (chopped)
1/2 cup chopped green olives or black kalamata olives
1/3 cup sherry wine
3 Tbl of small capers
1/2 tsp of crushed red pepper flakes

Heat EVOO in large heavy skillet and melt chopped anchovies till it turns to paste like.  Add jar of Marinara Sauce and  rest of the ingredients. Simmer 15 minutes.  Then pour over  your favorite cooked pasta.

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cooking time:  15 minutes
Serves 4