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