Friday, May 28, 2010

Birthday Dinner At San Francisco's A16

Alright, it's official.  I'm getting older.  Not old, mind you, just older.  The inevitably steady always forward never backward progression of time is a typical and well-worn source of worry.  But really, when a birthday comes around, I say enjoy yourself, eat, drink, and be merry.  No reason to fuss and fret over gaining yet another year, but take one day, or two, or five, and worry about celebrating, well, yourself.

In that spirit, as I went from being 30 to being "in my 30's", I wanted to enjoy an amazing dinner with my favorite girl at a spot I have been aching to try for some time.  That spot was A16 in San Francisco's Marina District, and believe me, it was worth the wait.

We started off by ordering a carafe of Terredora di paolo red wine, recommended by the waiter as being the quintessential pizza wine.  Starters came in short order; the missus getting the roasted asparagus with black olives, ricotta and lemon, and I the roasted calamari.

The calamari was fresh and flavorful, a very bright and uncomplicated dish.  Wilted greens completed the plate, adding a little bitterness to the calamari and sharp lemon flavor.

If A16 is known for anything, it is their pizza.  If the wood fired oven blazing away in the open kitchen was any indication, I could tell they take their pizza seriously.  I ordered the Salsiccia pizza with fennel sausage, roasted spring onions, mozzarella, grana, garlic, chilies and olive oil.  The waited brought us a small jar of chili oil, proclaiming he loved it and put it on everything.  The chili oil was ferociously hot, but with a great flavor to back it up.  In small drops, it added just the right amount of heat.

But this pizza didn't need any doctoring.  Perfect from first bite to last, this was honestly the best pizza I have had this side of the Atlantic.  The sausage was fresh and flavorful, the cheese creamy and light. Although the pizza was huge, it would have been a sin to not devour it completely and lick my plate clean.  You can rest assured there was not a speck of pizza left on my plate.

 And finally, thinking there would be no way to fit any more in, we came to desert.  I've mentioned before that I am not a huge sweet tooth, but sometimes, like on my birthday, I feel inclined to indulge.  We shared an apricot and pistachio tart with honey ice cream that topped the meal off perfectly.  Not too sweet or indulgent, just a simple, crispy tart with the tang of apricot, the crunch of pistachios and the cool sweetness of ice cream.  Just a few simple ingredients and I am a happy man.

It was, to say the least, a fabulous birthday dinner with my beautiful wife.  I don't think I will wait for another birthday to come around before I visit A16 again.