Do you ever have a nagging sense you are missing something as you move through your day? It’s right there on the edge of your brain and it flits away just when you can almost reach it. I’m a big believer in celebrations for pretty much anything so it was shocking when I finally looked at the calendar and realized it was our big 6 MONTH anniversary. We made it all these months and are still going strong!
I confidently texted my beloved to let him know of the auspicious date and his reply stopped me in my tracks. “Yup. Already made reservations at A16 for tonight.” Uh what!? Let’s just say my husband is not known for remembering dates, names, conversations or what he ate for breakfast. In fact, he reasoned this should be one point in his favor when he “inevitably forgets a birthday or two in the future.” Good thing I mark his calendar to avoid that cataclysmic event.
To cover my burning shame I decided to take issue with the restaurant choice. I had been there before and remembered it was “just okay”. It was “loud” and tasted “ordinary”. My husband asked me where I wanted to go. I wasn’t sure. Maybe just somewhere causal. But it was a “special” occasion so maybe we should try one of those of those restaurants we always wanted to try but could never seem to find the time? Except I couldn’t remember any of them. (Note to self: make a spreadsheet to avoid this unfortunate situation again.) So I grudgingly agreed to relinquish control and head to A16.
Oh am I glad we did.
We started off with two glasses of wine at the bar while we waited for our table. The wine list is fabulous and has many hard to find Italian wines not widely distributed in the US. Unless you are an expert I suggest letting the sommelier and/or bartender steer you in the right direction. We threw ourselves at their mercy and were rewarded handsomely.
Our table was a tiny two top sandwiched between a rowdy group of newly minted drinkers and the more comfortable booths lining the wall. I shrugged off my annoyance and was forced to admit that our poor table placement was due to our last minute reservations and not our hostess. Determined to make the best of it, I ignored the annoying girl chugging champagne and declaring her regular facebook and twitter updates to the entire
Our server was all business and gave honest answers to all our queries. Even ridiculous ones like “Is it good?” after hearing the burrata they serve is considered the best in the country. Yes that was me and my only defense is that it wasn’t house made and I am always plagued by the anxiety of ordering the very. best. thing. when I eat out.
Rest assured the burrata is the most delightful, wonderous thing I have ever eaten and I cannot stop thinking about returning if only for another plate of this cheese all to myself. It’s perfectly silky with a firmer texture outside with an outrageously rich, creamy inside that sings of resplendent dairy with a salty grassy flavor. I really liked it. The bread is perfectly toasted and thinly sliced to showcase the burrata in all it’s glory.
We finished the dregs of our white wine with the cheese and took the sommelier’s advice to get two more glasses instead of a bottle or carafe in an effort to try more of their unique selection. We went with her selection of two wonderful wines from Campania and they went wonderfully with the rest of our meal. (I know I’m a terrible blogger for forgetting our wine choices and leaving you hanging. I promise to be better next time.)
We followed the burrata with the server’s recommendation for the maccaronara with ragu napoletana and house-made ricotta salata. I am the first to admit that I resisted this order. I wanted to try the more earthy, complex cavatelli di grano arso with ragu bianco or pumpkin and ricotta gnocchi but our entree was a rich pork dish so I pouted a little and ordered the maccaronara. Thick, chewy house made pasta was perfectly cooked and the rich, complex ragu clung to the strands perfectly. The ricotta salada was tangy and salty, perfectly complementing the dish. We split the small portion and it was just enough to get a taste for the dish while leaving us wanting more. We probably could have ordered the larger plate but we both were raised to never waste food and definitely would have fought to the death until every last bit was inhaled leaving us uncomfortably full before the entrée.
I love pork. There really is nothing better than a beautifully cooked piece of pork that is full of flavor and FAT. Too often this is not what we get when we order this sometimes maligned and mistreated protein. A16 knows how to cook some pork. We ordered the braised pork shoulder with persimmon jam and hazelnuts. The pork shoulder was tender with a complex, meaty taste ringed in crispy fat and seasoned perfectly. The persimmon jam was the perfect foil for the richly flavored meat and crispy toasted hazelnuts. Simply delicious.
Seeing as this was a special occasion we were powerless to resist a peek at the dessert menu. I always assure Roem I “just want to look” but he really knows there is no stopping me when just the dessert descriptions cause me to shiver in delight and start reading aloud. We decided on the chocolate budino tart with sea salt and extra virgin olive oil and a glass of the paired 2006 Roberto Zeni, Trento-Trentino, Moscato Rosa wine. The tart was full of complex textures with a dense, semisweet crust and a silky, luscious filling redolent of deep chocolate flavor. The silky olive oil and salt perfectly highlighted the rich flavors in the tart. The wine was sweet without being cloying, retaining its complex fruit flavor and luscious mouthfeel without veering into overly jammy territory. It cut through the rich chocolate flavors and really complemented the dessert.
So my true anniversary gift to my wonderful husband is a big, public YOU WERE RIGHT. And really I can’t be too upset about the whole outcome because at the expense of personal pride came one of the best dinners I’ve had in a long time. If I had to choose, I’d trade one for the other any time.
So now I’m starving and plotting my next restaurant adventure. Maybe Meatball Mondays at A16 next week?