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Jul 23, 2007 09:17 PM

A16 is it me?

Am I the only one that has had a bad experience at A16? I am willing go back and try it again but am having hard time after my dinner there. I had dinner with 4 other hounds and all of us came away with a bad taste in our mouth. The pizza was burnt, dry and had very little flavor. The salasd were tiny and slightly brown. the three shared entrees were bland.The Burrata was the only redeaming factor in the food section. The person who ordered the wine is very knowedable about italian wine so it was not about lack of palate.Our first bottle of wine was corked and the waiter tried to argue with us, when he finally brought another bottle it to was off. The waiter was not apologetic nor very friendly from the beginning. Is this just an off night and I should go back? Or have others had the same experience?

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  1. A16 is next on my list for italian restaurants to try, but after reading your post, I am reluctant. Take a look at my Delfina review....I think it is possible when restaurants become too popular and over hyped in this city, they go downhill. Ive had this experience at several top rated restaurants over the past few months, and I am really getting fed up dropping 100-150 per meal not to mention wasted calories on terrible food.

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      1. it's a big bummer your pizza was disappointing and your waiter gave you a hard time about the wine- both surprising as well.

        If you are willing to give it another try (and I'd recommend you do) but are a bit gun shy, you might consider a stop at the bar w/one other person for an early (eg: to assure a seat or short wait for a bar seat, 6 pm or prior on a weeknight) or late (eg: after 9 pm again on a weeknight) demi meal - order up a couple of pizzas and some wine - definitely a very affordable/low risk way to try what I think is A16's best offerings.

        I do think the salad portions can be small (albeit very very tasty most of the time) and personally, have never been wowed by most of the entrees. I go for the pizza, the salumi, the burrata (if I can't buy it myself; now that i know where to buy it, it's less of a reason to trek there), the meatballs (Mondays only), the gnocchi (not a big portion but very good) and to learn something new about a wonderful S. Italian wine. I used to go for the tuna appetizer but not as much of a fan since they changed the setup some time ago (to mushy polenta...maybe it's changed again).

        3 Replies
        1. re: laaronson

          Where do you get your burrata?

          The best we've found recently was Bryan's market in Laurel Village, which had Gioia last Thursday that had been flown in the same day. I'll have to ask if that is their standard shipment day and if they plan to carry Gioia on a regular basis.

          Rainbow Market and AG Ferari carry other brands and the freshness seems more variable.

          1. re: SteveG

            Actually, one of the last couple of times I was in Rainbow (on a Thursday), they had gotten in a shipment of Gioia burrata that day, and the cheese person said that they would be from now on (haven't been back to check on this, though...). Cowgirl also gets their burrata in on Thursdays (although it's not sure to be on the shelf until Friday morning, I think...), so maybe that's the standard ship day for Gioia.

            1. re: SteveG

              Bryan's does get it regularly (and on a schedule, so you can know when it is freshest) as does Cowgirl Creamery at the Ferry Building. I think they both get it 2x/week and the price is $12-$13/lb.

          2. Scorched pizza and sometimes bland entrees come straight out of the Neapolitan tradition, so that's as expected. Slightly brown salad, that's bad unless it was one of those variegated chicories or lettuces that just look that way--did it taste off?

            It's not uncommon to get two corked bottles of the same wine. Sometimes a whole case is corked. Typically at A16 I'd expect the sommelier to show up in a situation like that.

            Which night of the week was this?

            7 Replies
            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              Bland entrees is actually a tradition?

              I likewise had an average experience at A16. I had no problem with the scorched pizza, but it was quite mushy. The pastas were not very good either - too al dente for me.

              1. re: gemster

                Entrees in Italy are often a small, simply cooked piece of meat or fish, often seasoned with nothing but salt.

                A16's pizzas do get soggy sometimes when they put too much on them. That's a departure from the Neapolitan tradition of holding back on the toppings to make sure the crust stays crisp.

                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                  While I agree that some A16's pizzas have made concessions to the American palate with more toppings, e.g. the sausage and the treviso and speck pizza (all of which I think are vastly inferior to the classics they make), Neapolitan pizza is NOT crisp. In fact all the pizzas I ate in Naples during my vacation in the fall of 2006 at Di Matteo, Da Michele, Porta Alba, El Europeo, and Trianon were completely soupy and soggy in the middle. There is no way you can eat a pizza in Naples by picking up a slice, unless you flop over the soggy center on top of the crisper rim, which is why everyone eats them with a fork and knife.

                  I took a friend of mine from Naples to A16 who was working in the U.S. for several months about two months ago and he sent back his Margherita because it was too crisp for him and requested that the pizza be kept in the oven for only 90 seconds. We were seated at the bar by the kitchen and he talked to the pizza maker who told my friend that they decided to make the pizzas at A16 slightly crisper than what they experienced in Naples because San Franciscans complained too much about the pizza being soggy when they opened.

                  1. re: Amy G

                    Quite true. But when A16 loads up the toppings the pizza sometimes comes out soggy all the way across.

                  2. re: Robert Lauriston

                    That's what I love about Italian cooking...simply cooked but oh so divine! Of course in Italy much of the source material is better than what we generally get here, unless you put in the extra work to find better source ingredients.

                    And yes, it has been my experience that the pizzas in Italy are very light on the toppings...order a quatro stagione and in most places you will get exactly ONE "stagione" ingredient per quatrant on a small pizza!

                    1. re: Cat Chow

                      Cat Chow: "Order a quatro stagione and in most places you will get exactly ONE 'stagione' ingredient per quatrant on a small pizza!"

                      Am I missing something here? I thought that was exactly the definition of a Quattro Stagione (four-seasons) pizza. That's all I've seen in a couple of Bay Area Italian restaurants where they were ordered, and it's also what is shown in such books as Buonassisi's (1982) and James McNair's lavishly illustrated US pizza book (1987).

                      1. re: eatzalot

                        When I mean one, I mean that...ONE. As in ONE slice of mushroom, ONE slice of prosciutto, ONE piece of artichoke and ONE slice of olive (in its appropriate quadrant). The first time I ordered one I was like...did they run out? Then I realized that's the way it was done. Maybe I was hitting the purist places or the cheapie ones! :D

                        The point I was trying to make is that in Italy your pizza is not smothered in toppings, less is more (at least the places I tried out!)

              2. Its not you. I too had a poor experience at A16. The funghi pizza was loaded with so many oily mushrooms that the crust was a soaked mess. Who uses enoki mushrooms on a pizza? The waitstaff was perfunctory. Overall, it was a "C" experience at best.

                5 Replies
                1. re: Scott M

                  Enoki? Can't say I ever saw that in Naples...

                  1. re: chaddict

                    I just had the funghi pizza on Sunday. It is not enoki mushrooms, but rather chiodini mushroom. They look similar with the chiodini being a bit similar.

                      1. re: chaddict

                        I meant to say that the chiodini are a bit larger, but they basically look like small nails hence the name.

                        1. re: Amy G

                          Thanks for the clarification on the type of mushrooms. Either way it didn't work for me. There were just so many of them piled on, all else was lost. I even asked the waitress if the mushrooms made the crust soggy and she assured me it was not a problem. She was wrong.