DineOut: Cooper's a fun, casual place with old favorites on menu

Published 12:00 am Monday, November 7, 2011

By Robin M. Perry
For the Salisbury Post
Salisbury’s new dining spot — Cooper’s — is a gathering place for friends and family, reminiscent of the old neighborhood eatery where practically everyone runs into someone they know.
The owners, Joseph and Leslie Cataldo, welcome you as if you were visiting them at home. It is a fun, casual place with a menu full of old favorites and some new tasty items, sure to please the whole family.
When you walk into Cooper’s, the atmosphere is friendly, led by young Anthony Cataldo’s enthusiastic greeting. Anthony (15) has really enjoyed serving as host, according to mom, Leslie, and does it well. His brother, Dante, finds working on the food side is more to his liking. This is a family affair.
Joseph and Leslie previously owned Uncle Louie’s in Spencer, a much smaller, but equally friendly “neighborhood spot.”
“We left Uncle Louie’s 11 years ago,” Leslie said, “but always wanted to get back to it. Now that the kids are older and can help out, we decided to open Cooper’s.”
“We wanted to have a local gathering place where friends meet and eat,” adds Joseph, who has been catering and creating dishes all along.
The menu offers a nice variety for many tastes, and a kids menu that they can color on. Joseph plans to rotate the menu every three to four months to offer variety and take advantage of using local farmers’ products.
You can begin your meal with “munchies” such as the crab and artichoke dip ($6.95) or the popular fried green tomatoes ($5.95) that are hand cut and breaded, served with their version of southern roumalade. We tried the fried polenta ($6.95) which is the Italian version of creamy grits lightly breaded and fried, served with basil mayo. It was a unique flavor and texture, and tasted great.
Some of the most popular salads include the “Norvell” ($7.95) which is arugula tossed with dried cranberries, toasted pecans, goat cheese and sunflower seeds with the house dressing. Cooper’s house salad ($6.95) combines mesculin greens, red onions, homemade croutons tomato, cucumbers and toasted parmesan tossed with the house dressing. Both are offered as a side also.
Anthony’s pink pasta ($9.95) has fast become a favorite for all ages. The marinara sauce combined with the cream makes it a pink color- and it is a real comfort food. The Classic Bleu Cheese Bacon Burger ($8.95) is also popular.
Two favorite dishes at our table were the Filet of Beef ($14.95 for 5 ounce cut) and the smoked beef brisket ($9.50 in the Big Fowler sandwich). The filet was grilled to perfection and served with a brown demi-glace sauce. The flavor and tenderness of this meat were outstanding. The brisket, smoked with hickory and charcoal also made your taste buds smile. Nightly specials include such items as New York Strip blackened and grilled salmon, and Pasta Bolognese. Two Red Hens provides the Cooper Cupcake, a chocolate delight with a pecan praline center among others.
The Cataldos are adding some extras to their friendly eatery, such as the Community Charity Table. Each month a local charity will be featured, and folks can sit at the large table (that they got at Okey Dokey) for $3 per person, proceeds go to that charity. In October, the featured charity was Food for Thought. The Michael Yang Foundation will be November’s charity. “It’s a way of giving back to the community,” said Leslie.
Cooper’s does a good job of combining casual dining with a bar and the two areas blend nicely to keep that family friendly atmosphere. Local potter Brent Smith has crafted 50 mugs for Coopers. They sell for $35 each and are numbered so customers can buy one and keep it at the bar, to enjoy their favorite brew each time they visit. They hold a generous amount.
The kids play area is another added feature, that kids and parents both appreciate. If it is your birthday, you get the seat of honor, a “throne” they acquired from Piedmont Players. They also plan to do special events, such as beer tastings, fund raisers and live music. Check them out on face book.
The Cataldos are glad to be back in business. You can tell they enjoy chatting with all their guests, making sure everyone enjoys their new gathering place.
Cooper’s is open Tuesday, Thursday- 5pm until 11pm, Friday and Saturday from 5 p.m. until midnight.
It is located at 122 E. Fisher St. in Salisbury and are available for takeout, catering and private parties. Phone is 704-754-4907.