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Great Dinner at A16

steaklist | Mar 15, 2005 12:30 PM

My wife and I finally made it to A16 last night. Man oh man was it good. I think it may have ruined us for all other Italian in the City (we’ll be trying Incanto next).

Based upon previous posts here, I ordered the following:

BURRATA – I thought this was okay…until the four crostinis that it was served with ran out. Then I thought it was amazing. For my taste, I would serve it without the crostini – it hid the flavor and texture of the cheese…both of which were sublime.

LONZA – This was very good cured pork loin, but just a tad too salty for my taste. My first thought was how surprising given how some previous posts judged A16’s food too bland.

TRIPE – This was a bit of a coup, since my openness to food is matched by my wife’s staunch conservatism. I grew up eating tripas in menudo, and I didn’t like it then, so I was eager to try it as an adult. I have to say it was really well prepared: tender, spicy and very tasty, but ultimately not my cup (or bowl) of meat. It's a texture thing.

MARINARA PIZZA – It was exactly at this point that we started to be wow’d. I gotta say, growin’ up on SoCal beach town-style pizzas, I find it ironic that the best pizza I’ve tasted had no cheese and no toppings. The crust was perfection: crisp with an uneven & bulbous crust, charred in some areas. The sauce was spicy with a nice aroma of oregano and thinly sliced garlic. Yum. It was also at this point that I vowed to come back often…very often…and just sit at the bar with multiple pizzas and wine.

MACCHERONARA W/ TOMATO RAGU & RICOTTA SALATA
&
MEATBALLS W/ KALE
These two dishes were served at the same time. What’s funny is we didn’t order the Maccheronara…we ordered the Laghane (sp?) with porcini mushrooms. Well, after we pointed out the waitresses mistake and got a small order of the Laghane, we were glad she goofed. The ridiculously fresh, doughy-yet-al dente pasta was a true revelation. Along with the meatballs, I was almost reduced to tears.

The meatballs were made of lamb, which I wasn’t expecting. Neither was my wife who doesn’t usually do lamb…and although she declared the aroma to be very “lamby” she had no problem polishing off an entrée portion…with my help, natch. They were rich and flavorful, but also weirdly mild. They were soft but toothsome. The flavors were complex but perfectly blended. The broth/sauce that it was served in was delicious. Man, these things really do live up to the hype. I remember having the same feeling the first time I went to Hawaii – some things really do deliver.

For some odd reason, we ordered a trio of sorbets…but it was totally unwarranted: we were too stuffed. We just didn’t want the experience to end.

As far as wine, we ordered (or rather, let our server pick) two carafes. I told her I wanted something big and jammy to start. The next thing I know, there is a carafe and two glasses of Cantine Antonio Caggiano ‘Tari’, Aglianico Dell ‘Irpinia 2002 in front of us (I actually forgot the names of the wines at home, but from the web site, I’m almost positive this was the first one). This wine was amazing. Perfectly matched my description and our tastes. Yum. Does anyone know where I can pick up a bottle (i.e. case) of this?! Unfortunately, I couldn’t find the name of the other wine on their web site just now. I do know it was from Umbria and reminded me more of a CA cab (something our server did not agree with). I liked this wine just fine, but not nearly as much as the first one.

As far as the atmosphere, I was worried it would be too hot, but it turned out to be fine (we were seated in the back room). We had a 7:00 PM reservation; we arrived early at 6:45 and we were seated immediately. It wasn’t that full when we arrived, it was packed when we left.

I’m already planning my trip back.

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