Jamie Bissonnette, Boston, Massachusetts, MA, Coppa, Toro, Chef, Co-owner, Small Plates, Whole Animal, Nose to Tail, Pork Offal, Classes, Sausage, Pig’s Feet, Headcheese, 02118, Ken Oringer, Partner



Q. For a visitor to Boston, can you give us a quick description of your restaurants (Toro & Coppa) and some signature dishes?

A. Both restaurants are small plates and both use local ingredients and whole animals. 


Spanish tapas with innovative and interesting flavors, with dishes like roasted bone marrow, oxtail pan con tomate, and radishes.


A smaller quaint Italian enoteca serving small plates and pizza. Some of our signature dishes are Sea Urchin Carbonara, Pepe Bianco (white clam pizza) and house-cured charcuterie.

Q. How does your collaboration with your business partner, chef Ken Oringer, manifest itself on your menus?

A. Together we push each other, without ego. At the end of the day we want to make food that we want to eat ourselves. We have so many similar taste preferences, we find ourselves thinking like-minded when creating, and tweaking our food.

Q. Do you still teach butchering classes with an emphasis on offal and using all parts of the animal?

A. I do still teach. Sometimes at BU (Boston University), and other times private classes, or demos for whomever asks.

We get in at least one whole pig at each restaurant every other week. It's great with small plates, because selling a pig kidney tapa for 4 dollars gives guests the chance to try a small bite of something they might normally be afraid of. For 4 bucks, it's an easy risk they can take. It's cheaper then a happy meal.

Q. What is about certain parts of animals that scare people and is that perception changing?

A. I think a lot of people are still wary of liver. Rightfully so. Improperly prepared, liver is terrible. But I think that seeing pigs’ feet, head cheese, or something with the head or testa, is starting to become more common place.

Tripe is still the lowest seller on most menus, but when guest try ours at either place, I always hear that they liked it, even though unexpectedly. 

Q. As a former vegan-turned-meat-eating-butcher, you have a thorough understanding of the spectrum, what is your current perspective on the benefits or disadvantages of eating of meat?

A. I like it. I love the flavor, I love the texture. The whole process of talking with the people raising the animal, bringing it to slaughter and then to me. It's rad. I eat far less meat these days. I think overall eating meat, for me, makes me tired. It's harder for me to digest now. But I couldn't live without it.

Q. Grass-fed or grain-fed meat?



Grass fed, finished on grain. Better flavor, and the best fat.


Let them eat what they want. Give them left-overs, compostables, and whey. But let them wander and find what they crave.


Grass fed.


Well you can’t really control them, but keep them away from plastic. They love rubber bands (or at least the last goats I was around did).

Q. Chef Matt Jennings recommended you to us, how important is it to you to receive industry recognition and have them dine at your restaurants?

A. That's the most important recognition for me. Press is great: Yelp, Citysearch, Chowhound, blogs... they are all wicked nice.

Being busy with guests is awesome, but when cooks, servers, chefs, managers, bartenders, back waiters, dish dogs are coming in, I feel good.

Industry people are the most discerning. We don't take time off very often.  When we do, we want something good. When I see industry people in both places regularly, I feel that we are doing something right.

Matt Jennings? That dude is the two-time Prince of Porc. I hold my hat to him. One of the most passionate cooks, father, and human beings I have met. He's wicked pissah.

Advice & Tips

Cooking and Selecting Offal

Buy it from a butcher, wicked fresh, and ask a lot of questions:

- when was it slaughtered

- where is it from, etc.?

Or buy it from a place that sells a lot of it. Chinatown has tons of quality offal, except tripe. I think they use clorox or some shit to clean it. Fucking terrible and tastes like a public pool.

Chef’s Recs | Tools & Books

Find | Knives

For Cutting Meat | MKS Design

I just started using Adam Simha's knives - MKS Design out of Cambridge. He uses bicycle handles and hones great steel. I love them.

Find | Cookbooks

Taste Sensations | Eric Frechon

For luxe indulging rarities -- Ortolan and Birds Nest Soup.

La Technique | Jacques Pepin

He is my absolute hero and all of his books speak to me.

Momofuku | Chang and Meehan

Their book makes me hungry 

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Chef’s Recs | Boston, MA

Find | Food Purveyors

Speciality Produce

They are brokers for local and seasonal farms. Thomas and Jim are always looking our for us, sources great things.

Round the Bend Farm

Tony raises the best Tamworth pigs. They have better lives then I do. He's cares so much about the process. He's a good papa to his pigs, lambs and goats. And his eggs. Oh damn, his eggs are so good.

Eva’s Garden

Eva Sommaripa -- I can't say no to her. Her foraged greens, her herbs. If Michel Bras were in New England, she'd work solely for him.

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Find | Markets & Shops

Boston Farmers Market

I'm proud of the Boston farmers market. It's been getting stronger and better every year.

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Find | Chefs Who Deserve More Praise

Josh Buehler | KO Prime

His no bullshit straight forward food inspires me.

Mike Smith & Brendan Joy

My sous chefs -- I couldn't have a better team.

Eat | Restaurants

Killer Food  & Won’t Break The Bank

Charlie’s Kitchen

A green and sustainable dive bar.

Myers + Chang

Every bite counts there. I love the attention to everything. It's my favorite birthday lunch spot, and late night snack.

Off The Beaten Track

Sapporo Ramen

In Somerville -- the only noodle game in town. Dirt cheap, great portions, and seasoned right.

Gourmet Dumpling House

In Chinatown Boston -- the tripe tongue and tendon salad. This is my go to. Soup dumpling are great. Whole fish, crab, braised pork shank with bok choy. All the food is made with such care, and love. The best choice for offal in chinatown.

Classic Boston


I love Lydia (Shire), it isn't classic yet, but her food is. Flat breads, pasta with crackling and chili flake. It's crave-able.


In Cambridge -- the food is so well balanced and light. Feminine and delicate with assertive flavors.

East Coast Grill

Always a stand by -- it's food to eat. BBQ or wood grilled fish with salsa. It's hard to only eat a little bit. If I go in hungry, I leave in need of Fernet Branca.

[See details.]

Chef’s Recs | Around The World

Find | Food Markets

Los Angeles | North Hollywood Farmers Market

The market and the little temporary restaurants are great.

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Eat | Restaurants

New York, NY | Boqueria

Holy crap is it tasty -- this dude knows how to put flavors together. Classic tapas done with the attention and innovation another cook would want. I can't go to NYC without stopping in.

New York, NY | Casa Mono

Also wicked good -- this place is so much fun to eat at. Curious combinations, always gonna have marrow and feet. I love bones and toes.

New York, NY | Kuma Inn

Southeastern Asian tapas -- get the cauliflower with fish sauce. It's unassuming, hard to find, and BYOB. Grab a bottle of Jumai Sake, and a Sapporo tall boy.

New Haven, CT | Mamouns

Chicago, IL | Avec

This place is dialed in, no missteps, no mistakes. Fun, great energy. The menu is the perfect size to order the whole thing.

Los Angeles, CA | Animal

I ate about 4,000 calories the last time I ate here. Ears, foie, more foie, kimchee, pickles, sunny side eggs, more pork, and lamb. It was super rad. I dream of the crispy ears with sunny egg.

San Francisco, CA | Incanto

If ever there was a person whose guts I would want to eat, it's Chris Cosentino. Crazy combinations, but approachable straight forward full flavored Italian inspired food. Eat offal.

San Francisco, CA | SPQR

A great neighborhood joint with food that you wouldn't expect to come out of a kitchen so small. Inspiring food.

Montreal, QC | Au Pied De Cochon

I can't wait to get back. I am not articulate enough to express the joy that this restaurant gives me.

Playa del Carmen, Mexico | Dr. Taco

The octopus a la plancha taco is still something I crave and it's been 4 years.  

Tulum, Mexico | Pastorcita

The best Pork al Pastor south of Playa -- destination tacos.

[See details.]


Details of chef Jamie Bissonnette’s recommendations on where to eat in Boston, New York, New Haven, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Mexico, and Montreal.


- Pig Ear Terrine

- Tripe Stew - Tripe A La Collinsville

- Garlic Blood Sausage

- Oysters Escabeche

- Veal Breast Ragu

City Guides

- MA | Boston: Download

- NYC | Manhattan: Download

- NYC | Brooklyn: Download

- CA | Los Angeles: Download

- CA | San Francisco: Download





South End


1704 Washington Street
Boston, MA 02118
T: 617.536.4300




Mon - Thu: 12pm - 2pm; 5:30pm - 10:15pm

Fri: 12pm - 2pm; 5:30pm - 11:45pm

Sat: 5pm - 11pm

Sun: 10:30am - 2:30pm; 5pm- 10:15pm


South End


253 Shawmut Avenue

Boston, MA 02118

T: 617.391.0902




Mon - Fri: 12pm - 4pm

Daily: 5:30pm - 12:45am


Recommended By

- Chef Matt Jennings of La Laiterie in Providence, RI

- Chef Ana Sortun of Oleana in Boston, MA


Q & A


Photographs courtesy of Toro, Coppa and Jamie Bissonnette

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