The Shut-Up-and-Give-it-to-Me-Quick Version:
Great food, reasonable prices, outstanding service.
Mon – Tues 5:30 p.m. – 10 p.m.
Wed- Thurs 11:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m. – 10 p.m.
Fri 11:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m. – 11 p.m.
Sat 11:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m., 5 p.m. – 11 p.m.
Sun 11:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m., 5 p.m. – 10 p.m.
The I-Like-to-be-Wrapped-Up-in-All-the-Details Version:
I’ve been meaning to try this restaurant for a while and we finally found an excuse to go. We asked to be seated at the chefs’ counter which is the bar area overlooking the kitchen. It was fun to see the chefs prepare the food right in front of you and meticulously adorn the plate with different sauces and ingredients. The process is best described as organized chaos. Everyone is working separately towards the same goal and somehow they manage to stay out of each other’s way and avoid near-disasters by stopping abruptly or dodging moving arms and flying dishes.
A16 looks small from the outside, but like most SF architecture, don’t be fooled by the narrow width because it extends pretty far back, accommodating quite a lot of people. There are different dining areas; when you first come in, there is the wine area, made up of a bar and high tables, which leads into another area of low seats and tables with booth-like seating on one side as well as the chef’s counter. At the end of the restaurant is a wider area with more tables and covered patio like seating that fits more people. Word to the wise, the whole restaurant is warm, but if you are sitting at the chefs’ counter, plan on dressing like it’s summer. Everyone I saw was nicely dressed, but no one was overly fancy. Casual cute is appropriate. For the men, jeans and a button up and ladies, heels or no heels, the choice is up to you, but a cute top will do.
What we ate:
- Burrata ($12)
- Mussels ($16)
- Olives ($4)
- Margherita Pizza ($15)
- Chocolate Budino Tart ($9)
I read and was told that the burrata is a must order and although I found it very tasty, I wouldn’t venture to say it’s the best. In my opinion, the one for sale at Molinari’s is better. This burrata wasn’t as flavorful (still delicious just not the best out there), although I did appreciate that they let it shine and only added a hint of sea salt and good olive oil (served with some crostini).
The mussels were probably my favorite, they came in a tomato sauce with white wine, lemon, garlic and parsley. It was served with a thick slice of wheat bread. The mussels were perfectly steamed and the sauce was absolutely delicious. We asked for more bread to make sure none of it went to waste. The tomatoes were coarsely chopped giving the sauce a nice thickness and the garlic and parsley gave it a great aroma.
We decided to go simple on the pizza and order a margherita. The pizza is thin, Neapolitan style and although it is not as soupy, this is probably the closest to Italian pizza that I have had since my trip to Italy. Both Dennis and I felt that it was a tad salty, but the flavor was great and the crust was perfectly crisp. I like that the quality of the ingredients spoke for themselves. The pizza came with some pretty nifty shears that made cutting very easy. We looked around and realized that everyone was cutting their pizza, but we both agreed there is no better way to eat a pizza than with your hands (with the exception of deep dish – but we won’t tell the Italians about that).
This is the point in our meal when the waitress showed great service skills. She was very attentive the whole time and brought us olives on the house since the pasta was taking a while (I consider that service). However, when the pasta did come out, it was the wrong one (we ordered the maccaronara and were brought the bucatini). I understand people make mistakes so it didn’t bother me and she actually was very apologetic and offered to make us the correct one on the house, we declined since we were so full. I should mention that we did try the other pasta (since she couldn’t serve it to anyone else) and it wasn’t that great. I look forward to trying the maccaronara next time.
As a result of us declining the pasta, she brought us what she said was their signature dessert, the chocolate budino tart. It was topped with chocolate mousse and drizzled with sea salt and extra virgin olive oil. I love a good olive oil and sea salt topping and this definitely added an extra element to the dessert, but I wouldn’t order it again. It was good and, considering we were extremely full, I was very happy that it was extremely light, but it was a bit too bitter and rich for my taste and it just didn’t wow me.
Come back on Friday to read all about the best deep dish in SF!