San Francisco is strong on Italian restaurants, but A16 still stands out.
A16, named for the Italian autostrada that runs between Naples and Canosa, occupies a long, thin space in the trendy Marina neighborhood. There’s a small wine bar up front, with co-owner Shelley Lindgren’s hand-picked wines listed by the glass on a chalkboard. Down a corridor, past the kitchen, sits an airy dining room. Chef Nate Appleman contributes soulful, share-friendly Italian cooking.
We split several dishes, starting with summery arugula salad co-starring juicy white nectarines, green olive slices, walnuts and shaved pecorino.
Too many olives isn’t enough, so we devoured a dish of plump marinated San Remos and Castelvetranos.
A16 topped startlingly good salsiccia pizza with spring onions, mozzarella, chunks of fennel sausage, garlic, and chives. This pizza was as good as it gets, with a soft, blistered crust that held up under the weight of the terrific toppings, and it wasn’t dry in the least. Sausage was sensational, juicy, with a subtle kick.
Succulent chicken meatballs were crisp outside, served with a tangy giardiniera (vegetables from the garden) that contained pickled carrot slices, onions, and cauliflower.
A simple plate of spaghetti with plump, briny Manila clams, borlotti beans, stewed cherry tomatoes and garlic. The plate could have done without the pinto-like borlotti beans, but this dish was worth ordering.
This spiedino (skewer) of pork was partnered with an alternately sweet and bitter salad of wild arugula, pinenuts, currants and garlic. Pork was chewy and salty, to good effect.
Each A16 entrée comes with a choice of side dish. Small roasted cobs of corn came brushed with olive oil and black pepper, which accentuated the natural sweetness of this summer veggie.
Braised green beans would do a Southern cook proud, since they’re tender and infused with the delicious flavor of all the shredded pork.
We never made it to dessert, but A16 didn’t need sweets to make a great first impression.