SPQR or A16?
In town for dinner on Friday and am jones'n for good Italian. Am torn between the two and have never been to either. Which would you choose? Or are both so good I should just let whatever neighborhood I end up being closest to decide?
Also, I have high standards for italian. I'm a damn good cook myself so quality ingredients and stuff I can't (or don't have the time) to make at home are best.
They're in the same general neighborhood, so that doesn't really help your decision. At A16, you can make a reservation (so you should call now to see if you can get one for Friday) and at SPQR, you can't and the waits are long, so that might help.
Jasmine brings up good points about the wait vs reservations.
A16 is Southern Italian and excels at pizzas and wood oven entrees. A16 cures their own meats and has interesting salumi selections.
SPQR is Roman. It does not have pizza. SPQR makes their own pasta. My best meals at SPQR are small plates and maybe a pasta dish. They have a few entrees but I think that the antipasti section is where they excel.
SPQR is a smaller space than A16. Both are on the loud side. Both have chef's bars which, if you're 1 person or a party of 2, is the best place in the restaurant to sit.
At A16, get a pizza that's on the plain side, ask for chile oil, order any meats that are going in the wood oven that night, and order the brentwood corn side order. Order the chocolate budino with sea salt to finish.
At SPQR, get the tuna conserva appetizer, the sunchoke salad, the fried artichoke, the potatoes, anything with pork, and the panino dessert if it's available.
I like both and always have. However, I will say that there are a few people I know who actively dislike A16 who love SPQR.
I was at SPQR a few months ago and thought the food was very mediocre. I also sat at the bar where one could watch the chef work.... it kinda grossed me out watching them manipulate the food. At one point, the chef was steaming/toasting/steaming the burger bun - i felt that it was surely not edible after so much handling.