CONFESSIONS OF A                                                                  
A San Francisco Girl's Down and Dirty Adventures in the Culinary Playground

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Highway to Heaven (A16 -- San Francisco, CA)

If you want to make Neapolitan pizza, you have to go through a whole certification process in Naples. So when we heard that a new restaurant was opening that had a chef who was certified, we couldn't wait to try it.

We're amateur pizza makers ourselves, constantly tweaking our dough and changing our oven conditions to make it a little closer to perfection but nothing comes close to A16, named for the highway that runs between Rome and Naples in Italy.

So when A16 opened we kept meaning to go. But it's in the Marina, and we're lazy so we just didn't get around to it. One night while we were at Delfina (our favorite spot -- more to come), Craig Stoll told us to check it out. When Craig tells you to check out another restaurant, you do it. So the following Friday, a day I had off, I asked Mia and Ariana, our friends, to join me there for lunch.

Holy crap. We were all floored. We had the fava bean puree, an antipasti and the best fucking pizza ever. It was so thin that the middle was pleasantly soppy. The dough was the most beautiful thing I've ever seen. The arugula and prosciutto we got on top was fresh and delish. All three of us loved every bite, none of us could believe how good it all was or how cheap. $10 for that pizza is a steal.

I knew Jon would be upset he missed it. I raved and raved but the bitch just didn't believe it could be as good as I said it was. I made him go back for lunch with me the very next day (quick fyi: they do dinner 7 nights a week now so there is no longer lunch sat.-tues.). When the pizza arrived, his jaw hit the table. It quickly became one of our favorite spots.

Shortly after those initial visits, Michael Bauer reviewed them in the Chronicle. So long walking in, hello reservations. But that's OK with us because if anyone deserves success, they do.

Shelley, one of the co-owners is sweeter than pie (mmm..pie). She's just awesome. Everyone I know wants to marry her (she's already married).

While the pizzas are spectacular, the rest of the food (and wine) shines as well. The braised pork is heavenly as is the fennel sausage and the pastas. Desserts aren't too shabby, either.

It's also just plain fun. It's comfortable and the staff is great. Young and old are there having a grand old time. It's just an all around great dining experience.

If you go, make sure you order the burratta (mozzarella wrapped around it's own curd) if they have it. And pizza. And ask for the chile oil to go on the pizza. And maybe order an entree, too. And while you're at it, give me a call so I can go with you.


"To eat is a necessity, but to eat intelligently is an art."
--La Rochefoucauld


Anonymous Anonymous said...

As to A16:

You'll forgive me. I know you will. I am not an amateur pizza maker, I don't have a pizza oven in the garage, am not enrolled in the Pizza world's version of the Masonic order, I don't care about the Autostrada, and I feel like wearing a detrenderizing hazmat suit anytime I go near the Marina. This irks me, as I am a native.

Me, I don't think it was such great pie at A16, which sounds more like a codeword than an inviting restaurant.

Great pie I've had in New Haven, at Pepe's and The Spot. In these boistrous dark caves, big, fat, sweaty Italians and fast moving Puerto Ricans make pie so good people drive up from Brooklyn for it. They didn't go to Naples, they don't have a wine list, and there's no granite or marble to be found outside the toilet. They barely have a beer list. The places welcome you, and they don't serve mystery pies with supposed pedigrees.

Look: this is just pizza. Can't we leave this last simple good thing unsullied by the yuppie taste to gild that which is already good? As for the A16 product, I say this Emperor wears skivvies. The pie was good, but no better than above average. Unusual, yes, but the dough was bitter, and the mushrooms were blah.

This is the triumph of trend over judgment. If this pie was served by a Cybelles in Belmont by a 50 year old fat Korean, it wouldn't even be noticed.

4/20/2005 1:02 PM  

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