A16

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This review will be easy. I loved A16.

When Fatemeh suggested it for dinner, I didn’t know what to think. I hadn’t heard of it. It sounded like a steak sauce. Was it really worth giving up one of my dinner slots for this? Well the answer, as I can tell you now that I’ve been, is emphatically: yes.

The magic began with the seating: we were sat at a bar facing the kitchen.

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Fatemeh set the ball rolling when she ordered some bubbly at the start. I immediately followed suit and though I don’t remember what it was (Fatemeh–tell us in the comments!) it was a wonderful beverage: hints of pear, almond, and Candace Bergen. Doesn’t this make you want to rent Murphy Brown?

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We toasted to each other’s health and then studied the menu. Almost immediately, I saw an appetizer that looked scrumptious. So I ordered it—it was bruschetta with ricotta and roasted asparagus, artichoke and lemon:

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It may have been the best bruschetta I’ve ever had. The heat from the scalding hot oven gave the vegetables a perfect char; and matched with the creamy, dreamy ricotta it became a work of genius. I loved it.

Meanwhile, Fatemeh started with the burrata, which is basically mozzarella on crack: gooey on the inside, firm on the outside, you have to try it at some point in your lives:

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Monday night is meatball night at A16 and as we discussed whether I should get meatballs, a wily chef lifted the lid on the pot of meatballs and showed off their beauty. I resisted because I’d had that ham sandwich for lunch and I wasn’t feeling like meat. So I had the bucatini with sardines and garlic bread crumbs:

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Sure, it’s the kind of dish I can make at home but it was just what I was in the mood for. And it truly hit the spot.

Fatemeh, the smart girl that she is, did the right thing and ordered a small version of the meatballs:

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I tried one and it was lighter than air. Apparently there’s a recipe in this month’s Food & Wine (or was it last month’s?) and it’s for these very meatballs. You better believe I’m going to find the recipe when I get home. (Fatemeh also ordered a small order of pasta, but I didn’t take a picture.)

For dessert, Fatemeh suggested the Hazelnut semifreddo with hazelnut brittle and chocolate cake. I resisted and ordered Pistachio cannoli with cocoa nibs and candied orange peel

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But I instantly grew jealous of Fatemeh who did order the semifreddo:

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The cannolis weren’t sweet enough or rich enough for me; the semi-fredo, on the other hand, was like a Carvel ice cream cake that grew up, went to college, got a pHD and married a smart, savvy woman. It was perfection and I ate more than what was proper, considering it wasn’t mine.

We left A16 with that buzz you get when you’ve just had a great meal. It’s a hot restaurant right now–it was apparently on a list of the best 50 restaurants in San Francisco–and it’s great to eat somewhere that feels vibrant and alive. If you come to San Fran, sometime soon, you’ve gotta eat here. It was one of the highlights of my trip.

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14 comments

  1. Yay! I’m soooo glad you loved A16. I love, love, love that they have so many “half-portions” on the menu — it makes trying several things less guilt-inducing.

    The bubbles we had were “Ariola Malvasia, Forte Rigoni” from the Emilia region. And while I’m not savvy enough to know about Miss Candace Bergen, it thought it was reminiscent of a delicate, refined cider.

    I’m so glad we went on a Monday – I’d never had those meatballs before, and now I’m a little addicted.

  2. I’ve been in the middle of a Boston Legal marathon, and my childhood crush on Ms. Bergin has come back full-force.

    P.S. You lose punk points: never, ever, NEVER call The City ‘San Fran’. If you utter ‘Frisco’, well, the ghost of Herb Caen will haunt your fridge and fill it with Velveeta.

  3. it’s on a lot of “Best in SF”-type lists.

    and yes, it’s NEVER San Fran or Frisco. *shudder* it’s like seriously calling Manhattan the Big Apple.

  4. A16 is a goodie. I worked a few blocks away for about a year and a half and so I was lucky to go there for lunch nearly every week or two.

    See how much better it is when you don’t have an expectation. I think I almost remember you wrinkling up your nose in distrust at the thought of going to a place you had never even heard of.

  5. Oh, Mary Sue and A, thank you so much for pointing out the travesty that is “San Fran”. It’s so common here in NY. As a former Bay Area resident, I find it grates on me almost as bad as the dreaded “Frisco”. I’ve been enjoying the stories of your trip out west, though, Adam. Glad you got to eat a great Mission-style burrito! And A16 sounds fantastic! Yum.

  6. glad you enjoyed A16 – I should have told you to get the chocolate tart. it’s covered in salt and olive oil! Definitely something you have to share (at least I did, it was overpowering, but in a good way) – I guess you’ll have to save that for next time!

  7. sorry to be picky,but the phrase “we were sat” kind of jarred me. how about “we were seated?”

  8. This is one of my favorite restaurants in San Francisco. I sat at the same spot last time and it’s definitely the best spot in the house. I had fresh mozzerella cheese which I think is the best I’ve ever had. The pizza is amazing too. You have to go back and get a margherita pizza.

  9. The link for the meatball recipe is:

    http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/pork-and-ricotta-meatballs-in-tomato-sauce

    I also noticed that you used the phrase “we were sat.” Made me smile because it’s quite a common phrasing in the UK, although not usually used transitively. Eg., from the BBC:

    “We all knew that we were sat on explosives,” recalls Ernest, now in his 70s. “As the days went on, the stuff started sweating and it is not very stable when it sweats. We started sweating as well.”

  10. Don’t get me started about ‘San Fran.’ I just heard that from someone in Philadelphia the other week. Lord have mercy! I think you probably take it much more personally when you’ve actually lived in Frisco.