#51 A16: Maccaronara with Ragu Napoletana and House-­Made Ricotta Salata

 

For this weeks culinary adventure, we were proud to celebrate our two year anniversary.  Two awesome years of fun, food, love and laughter!

The Place.

If you’re just doing a little shopping along Chestnut Street, you might miss this place.  The restaurant front is small, the sign is simple, just saying A16 and nothing really catches your attention but the nice brick and growing ivy.  Upon entry, there’s a small wine bar to the right, a hostess stand to the left, and at first glance not much beyond that.  However, as you’re led to the back of the restaurant, it opens up nicely and has a great aesthetic.  Odd note:  the hostess walks patrons to the right down a narrow passage past the bathrooms.  What makes it weird is on the left side, there’s another passage through the dining area which does not force you to dodge the bathroom line.  We’re sure there’s probably a good reason they do this.  (Perhaps they’re proud of how clean their restrooms are?)  Anyways, we digress.  While the dining room is not extremely spacious, the many tables are spaced very well to maximize the size.  There’s a nice open kitchen with a wood burning pizza oven and a counter running along the kitchen with tall stools for customers to dine at and watch their food being prepared.  We were seated in a small patio room that was separated by glass from the main dining room.  The seat against the wall was freezing.  From behind there was a cold draft that necessitated the wearing of a jacket the entire time.  Alex, being the gentleman, volunteered to sit in the frozen tundra.

The Dish:

The noodles themselves are what really stood out in this dish.  It’s a bit tough to describe, but hell, it’s a blog so we’ve got to try.  It’s a long, round, thick noodle they make in house.  It almost seems as though there are two textures to it, one being a dense middle, the other being a soft outside.  Now, we don’t want you to think it was under-cooked, because it wasn’t.  In fact, we’re pretty sure it takes a lot of skill to get it right.  The pasta is tossed in a fresh, tangy tomato sauce with shaved parm and what is described as a “house-made ricotta salad”.  The sauce was great, though we didn’t notice the influence of the ricotta.  Overall, the dish was good, but not even the favorite of what we ordered.  We don’t think this will be any dying person’s last meal request.  The pizza on the other hand….

The Rest:

Now this is what we’re talking about.  This little number gives Delfina’s pizza (our first post) a good run for it’s money.  We ordered their salsiccia pizza which consists of tomato sauce, fennel sausage, spring onions, grana padano (type of cheese, we had to look this up), drizzled olive oil and chilies.  Being the spice lovers we are, we also asked for some chili oil to go with it.  As you can see it has a generous helping of sausage and the crust seems cooked to perfection and adds that delicious, slightly burnt taste.  For us however, what stood out was the sausage and spring onions.  The fennel was very flavorful and a little spicy, and they had roasted the spring onions to add a nice sweetness.  The crust was soft but not doughy and was the type you want to chew at the back of your mouth instead of trying to rip with the front of your teeth.  The middle of the pizza was a bit soggy, though that is hard to avoid.  Add a few drops of smoky chili oil and this thing will rock your world.

Another shining dish was the the Stone Fruit Salad. This little beauty comes with cherries, apricots, arugula, frisee, fried almonds, pecorino cheese and a little reduced balsamic vinegar. From the get-go we knew this was going to be tasty. The balance of this dish was great, with the salty and creaminess of the cheese, a little spice from the frisee, sweetness from the fruit and tang from the vinegar. However, what made this dish was the fried almonds as they added a great layer of nutty goodness that just made things pop.

We also got roasted wax beans that supposedly came with anchovy, lemon, and breadcrumbs. We say supposedly because while we saw breadcrumbs, and tasted a bit of lemon, that was all we could find (trust me, we searched for the other flavors). For dessert we also got a variety of homemade italian cookies and…….well, not so much either.

All in all we enjoyed our experience at A16, had a great anniversary and would recommend this restaurant to others searching for some good Italian.

Dig In

A & K

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