In 2010, MSN.com, in conjunction with Gayot.com, published an article detailing its Top 10 list of pizza restaurants in the country. As with all Top 10 lists, and particularly, with pizza lists, this one was subjective, though certain consensus favorites were present. There’s Great Lake from Chicago (probably the best pizza I’ve ever had), Pizzeria Bianco from Phoenix and Serious Pie in Seattle. Then, there was Cooper’s Wine Bar in Manayunk. Considering I’ve never heard anyone else ever mention it in the discussion of great pizza in Philadelphia, let alone the country, I was intrigued.
Cooper’s is the less formal, more casual, no reservation wine bar portion of Jake’s, one of the more upscale restaurants on Main Street Manayunk. The two establishements share the same kitchen, so you can actually order off the same menu. So, you can choose to make your reservation and eat in a more refined setting at Jake’s or you can go at the spur of the moment and try waiting for a table or bar space at Cooper’s. Either way, you’ve got access to a good menu.
The pizza is cooked in a wood burning oven at about 732 degrees. Pizza comes out Neapolitan-style, about 10 inches wide. Don’t come in looking for simple pepperoni or sausage. Here, you’ve got pizzas such as Butternut Squash (mozzarella, gorgonzola, smoked bacon, sunflower seeds), Lisa’s Pizza (artichoke, oven-roasted tomatoes, black olives, spinach, mozzarella) and Short Rib (parmesan, onion, horseradish cream, port).
First up was the Short Rib pizza. Short rib seems to be the new trendy dish at small plates restaurants, so why not on pizza? At first bite, you immediately notice how great the mixture of flavors go together. The port lends a certain sweetness to the pizza. The crust was thin but still soft and chewy, rather than crisp. It was simply tremendous.
Next up was the Lisa’s Pizza. You won’t find too many pizzas that are more aesthetically pleasing than this one. The taste of the various vegetables were complimented quite well by the ample and fresh mozzarella. It was also quite good, though as a meat eater, I’d still prefer the Short Rib.
Overall, Cooper’s Wine Bar was rather impressive. With pizzas at $13-16, it’s right in line with the price and style of Zavino’s, Pizzeria Stella and other similar Philadelphia places. I’d probably rank this pizza restaurant as the second best place in Philadelphia right after Tacconelli’s.
- Cooper’s Wine Bar
- 4365 Main Street, Manayunk, Philadelphia
- In a nutshell: Fantastic pizza in a wine bar environment, somewhat underexposed because it’s in Manayunk and connected to Jake’s.