SF: A16

January 6th, 2009
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I already wanted to go to A16 after seeing the Porchetta demo at The Astor Center, but after spending some time perusing the cookbook I bought that night, it was imperative. It’s been a while since I’ve pored over a cookbook like that. Last night, my colleague Will and I had a wonderful dinner there and now I have even more ideas for dishes I want to cook from the book.
Above is the “Maccaronara with tomato ragu and house-made ricotta salata.” I made the ragu at home and loved it. The name ‘tomato ragu’ belies the fascinating and complex nature of the sauce. It’s made by slowly simmering the crushed tomatoes with chunks of pork shoulder and a whole pig’s foot. All the meat is removed after the sauce is done, but by this point it has imparted not just a rich porky flavor, but a firm, thick texture from the gelatin in the cartilage heavy cuts of pork. After making it myself, it was amazing to recognize the same texture and flavor combination there at the restaurant.
For our first course, we split the pizza special, seen below topped with ricotta, arugula and olive oil, pressed fresh within the last 30 days. I can’t say I’ve ever thought about how many days ago my olive oil was pressed, but the end result was lighter and fluffier than pizza with cheese and oil has any right to be.
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We also had the monday night meatball special and a side of cannellini beans, described in the cookbook as sort of ‘Italian refried beans.’ The meatballs, which started a trend out here have inspired me to try something similar at home. More on that when I actually have a couple days at home to try it out. The beans were shockingly good. Tender, but not mushy and with crispy pork cracklings mixed in to provide contrast.
We had a great, affordable wine recommended by the sommelier that I unfortunately didn’t get a chance to make note of. My only regret for the evening is that the chef was not in. I had hoped to tell him how the porchetta went and that I love the book. Sadly, he was at their other restaurant SPQR that night.
Maybe that means I have to go again?

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