Oh look. An American/Mediterranean/Italian restaurant with a name that sounds like a made up Italian word but is actually a town in Southern California. Located in a hotel in the 20s just off Park Avenue. Serving pizza and vegetables and chicken. ALERT THE PRESSES. Right?
At first glance, Covina seemed like a restaurant that might be what we'd call a "useful" restaurant. It could be a nearby place to settle on when a reservation at Upland isn't in the cards. It could be a fine place to recommend for people who work in the area. And it is those things. But after several visits, we found it to be quite a bit more. Everyone we know who's tried Covina has agreed: this place is actually quite good.
Everything coming out of the kitchen here is extremely tasty, and some of it's even pretty inventive. The curried cauliflower is a hit, the questionable-sounding brussels sprouts/fontina/mascarpone/pear pizza turns out to be awesome, and the big sheaths of mandilli pasta are a must order. There's a lot of great food in between as well. On top of that, the service is notably and noticeably friendly. Not in an annoying or overbearing way, but in the "we want you to actually have a nice time here and as a result we are going to decidely be un-assholeish" way.
Covina might not be the spot for a very special occasion or a bucket list-type meal, but it's more than simply a "useful" restaurant. It's a very good restaurant.
Featuring brussels sprouts, two kinds of extremely rich cheese, pears, and the option of an egg in the middle, this pizza sounded like a lot. But it turns out to be delicious, with the sweet pear undercutting the richness. We brought some bona fide Italians to Covina on one visit, and even they approved.
Covina is quite skilled at cooking pizza, nailing the charred crust. The prosciutto and arugula option is a strong bet - they avoid that all too common thing where the prosciutto gets overcooked.
You need this on your table for the sheer sight of it alone. Big sheaths of layered pasta fill the bowl from side to side, sitting in a tasty tomato sauce. The result is what tastes like a lighter, not-baked lasagna. Sort of.
A chewy, kind of earthy pasta topped with braised greens, pine nuts, garlic, and a whole lot of cheese. Get one of these to share too.
Carb-free people or those who would actually just like to eat a nice piece of fish will do well here too. The salmon is cooked just right: crispy on the inside and rare on the inside.
Bits of cauliflower, mixed up in Indian spices. This one's an unexpected addition to the menu, and our favorite appetizer here.
Good name, even if it doesn't taste much like cheesy pasta. It's a nice appetizer though, featuring long strings of super fresh asparagus.
Essentially fried dough topped with smoked salmon and "kefir ranch," a tangy stand in for cream cheese. It's decent, but seemed more suited to brunch than dinner. We'd skip it next time.