A16 Celebrates 10 and Honors Judy Rogers & Women Winemakers on March 8
By Jay Huffman
In celebration of A16’s ten-year anniversary, owner Shelley Lindgren hosted a party on Valentines Day that focused on the best food and wine their restaurant offered this past decade. They have developed a tradition of great service and a reputation for fine food for locals as well as travelers over the years.
Jenny Hilday, one of A16’s Sous Chefs, expressed her passion for working in the establishment, saying “I knew this is where I wanted to be from the first time I staged.” I asked her the concept of A16 in a sentence. “Traditional Southern Italian cuisine using the freshest local ingredients and most humane meats available.” During the event, Hilday was carving some of the best prosciutto I have ever had. This meat was actually from Spain and not all that easy to acquire. Every Wednesday is “Pig Day”. The kitchen brings in the pigs used for the week and everyone learns how to use every last bit of it. Hilday’s favorite dish is the homemade meatballs garnished with a bit of shaved Parmesan. They were delicious – very tender, very flavorful. You could smell the aroma of the Italian herbs and spices. Simple, yet executed flawlessly.
I walked in and was first given a glass of Prosecco. A man on the accordion played intimate tragedies and classic melodies that echoed through the long and narrow restaurant. As I continued, came across an array of charcuterie and cheeses being freshly sliced right in front of me. As I went into the dining room, the open kitchen stood out noticeably with a wood-burning oven placed in the center of it all. The team behind the windows was hard at work, moving quickly but never looked stressed. They were putting out all sorts of food through the expo station, my favorite spot at the party.
My eyes lit up when I saw the turnip shape of a delicately pre-sliced ball of Burrata cheese. They cut it up, placed it on a crostini, and drizzled with Olive Oil. Then pizza started coming out. The classic Margarita with mozzarella, marinara, grana padano and basil leaf did me in. They also had one with sliced Black truffles over the top of sheep’s milk ricotta, wild arugula, sea salt and olio nuovo. Yet another one came with just marinara, which was all it really needed. The additions were just a plus. They served chicken meatballs with salsa verde sauce, which I thought was interesting. They had a unique texture and were browned perfectly. Each one I ate had me salivating for another.
A sushi Chef from A16 in Tokyo was at the event serving Uni, Hamachi and Oysters. I was a bit surprised to see this, but excited for some raw treats. It shows how far A16 has come, being as they opened up a location in Tokyo, giving Japan a taste of Southern Italy. One great thing I love about San Francisco is its ability to make you feel like you are in another world, depending on the neighborhood. Having never been in A16 and not knowing what to expect, they accomplished this for me. It was an extremely inviting atmosphere. No wonder the locals keep coming back for more. Everyone was stylishly and casually dressed, well fed, smiling and never went thirsty.
On my way out I noticed two huge clear bottles that had freshly been written on with a sharpie. No labels. I read Robert Sinsky and knew something special was going on. Sinsky brought in two bottles of 2013 Pinot Noir Rose for Shelley Lindgren celebrating A16’s ten year anniversary. I was fortunate to have a glass poured by a friendly bartender. I had a glass of I Favati, Terzotratto, which they sell by the glass, while enjoying the music before I made my way out.
A16 left me with an unforgettable experience in my young days as a food and travel writer and I thank Shelley Lindgren and everyone working with her for doing so.
9th Annual Dinner Benefits La Cocina for International Woman’s Day
The 9th annual Festa della Donna celebration on Saturday, March 8, 2014. The annual dinner will feature A16’s southern Italian fare as well as signature Zuni Café dishes celebrating the legacy of the late Judy Rogers. Complementing the evening’s menu is a lineup of women winemakers from California and Italy including Megan Glaab of Ryme Cellars, Chrystal Clifton of Palmina Wines, and Angela Biagiotti of Ciacci Piccolomini d’Aragona. A16 celebrates this day each year with a special dinner honoring women in food and wine and donates a portion of the proceeds to La Cocina, an organization which helps low income entrepreneurs formalize and grow their businesses.
Festa della Donna, or International Women’s Day dates back to the early 1900’s and commemorates the women who were killed in the New York Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire and represents the fight for women’s rights. Widely celebrated in Italy, Festa della Donna recognizes the achievements of women past and present and is often symbolized by the exchange of yellow mimosa flowers.
Guests attending A16’s Festa della Donna will enjoy a special selection of dishes created by Zuni’s kitchen team in collaboration with A16’s Executive Chef Christopher Thompson. The festive menu will be available in addition to the restaurant’s à la carte menu. Shelley Lindgren, Co-owner and Wine Director of A16, will also be on hand to highlight a selection of California and Italian wines by the evening’s featured winemakers.
“We wanted to honor the classic cuisine and bountiful contributions made over a lifetime by Judy Rogers,” Lindgren says. “Her talents brought Zuni Cafe to international prominence, and her kitchen team is collaborating with us to offer an additional selection of signature Zuni dishes that continues to leave an indelible legacy in San Francisco and beyond since her passing last December.”
The evening’s featured wines will highlight the work of women dedicated to quality Italian grapes and beautifully crafted wine from Megan Glaab, Chrystal Clifton, and Angela Biagiotti who offer the best of Italian varietals in California and Italy. Glaab and her husband Ryan have a production portfolio that includes Vermentino, Ribolla Gialla, Cabernets as well as Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Clifton, an Italophile fluent in Italian, has represented California at the Nebbiolo Conference in Piemonte and produces wines with the mission to craft wines meant for the everyday table, that are both restrained and elegant. Clifton will showcase a number of her wines at A16 including Arneis, Malvasia, Fruillanno, Nebbiolo, Dolcetto and Barber. Biagiotti will come in from Tuscany for the occasion and offer wines from her estate of Ciacci Piccolomini d’Aragona, in Montalchino, Italy that dates back to 1868.
For more information on A16 or to make reservations for its annual Festa della Donna dinner, please visit www.a16sf.com or call 415.771.2216