A16 Cookbook Review

A16 Cookbook Review: Is It Really That Good?

What’s Unique?

If you’re looking for a cookbook that stays true to its origin, you’ve found your book!

There’s no mistaking it. This book has it all—the ingenious food combination garnished with tasteful wine pairing— to cooking savory dishes. But its true brilliance lies in its celebration of the truest form of Italian country cooking.

The A16: Food+Wine cherishes the authentic Italian food from the Campania region of Italy. A16 is actually an Italian restaurant situated in the heart of San Francisco. The restaurant prides itself for being one of the best Italian restaurants in San Francisco.

A16 focuses on the southern Italian cuisine and robust wine collection, exploring different avenues of Italian dishes.

About the Author

Nate Appleman, famous chef and co-owner of San Francisco’s two famous restaurants—A16 and SPQR.

The talented executive chef started his illustrious career at the Culinary Institute of America. He also explored the culinary arts of Cleveland and Seattle. His short sojourn in Italy was what introduced him to his true passion.

The love for butchery.

That,and some other culinary skills gained along the way helped him establish the A16. 

Inspired by the highway connecting Naples to Pulgia, the restaurant was named “A16”. A love letter to the exact highway through which Appleman explored in the regions of Italy.

Appleman was consecutively nominated for the Rising Chef of the Year Award from the James Beard Foundation in 2007 and 2008.

A16: Food+Wine is his first ever book.

How’s the Book?

Right off the bat, we’re introduced to a detailed discussion on southern Italian wines.

Written by Shelley Lindgren, wine director, the first 58 pages cover wines from Campania to Sardinia.

For wine enthusiasts, this book alone covers almost every available kind of wine in southern Italy.

Besides wine, the A16 also depicts some of the finest Italian cuisine, embroidered with delectable combinations. If you’re looking to try your hands on different Italian dishes, A16 can help.

Are the Recipes Easily Doable?

Time for an honest confession. 

I didn’t try out the book right from the get go. In fact, it was stacked with the other books on the shelf, taunting me the entire time. I went on to read the other books over it, and for no good reason. 

In truth, I actually underestimated the book. My initial assumption was that the book will have me prepare complicated recipes with expensive ingredients. I have to say, I was proven wrong.

The book was narrated in the simplest of forms, emphasizing the most common ingredients.

From the first half an hour of reading, I came to this conclusion:

A16 is a beautifully written, part cookbook, part textbook with some amazing choice of photographs. It covered parts of Italy, the restaurants and lively photographs of different cooking methods.

My eyes were glued to the section illustrating the regional wines of Italy. 

Chef Appleman took great care to keep the cooking instructions simple, yet clear. This is a very difficult feat to pull, especially for recipes covering original southern Italian cuisines.

Thanks to that, the book is well-suited even for beginners looking to take their first step. 

The recipes are organized in bite-sized chunks, aided with the illustrations. So you won’t have to worry about getting lost midway!

What You’ll Like About the Book

Oh boy, where do we even start!

If you’re expecting this book to be just another cookbook explaining recipes, you’re wrong!

When reading this book, the very first thing that intrigued me was the attention to ingredients. You can see it for yourself—the devotion and care taken to explain the importance of the ingredients. 

It’s as if I was reading a journal of the cook himself.

There’s an interesting section covering the differences in flours used in Pizza making. Nate Appleman went to great depth to explain how the flours impact the Pizza dough.

If you’re like me, a pizza addict, you’ll find the section devoted to pizza really helpful. Chef Appleman narrates his experience of visiting “DA Michele”, a famous pizzeria established in Naples. 

His journey to the restaurant taught him the secrets to making outstanding pizza dough. And in A16, he explained the method to replicate the same taste with his own technique.

Can’t wait to try it out for the upcoming Pizza nights!.

Things You Might Not Like About the Book

While we did like its charismatic approach, to me, the book fell short in some instances.

Starting off at the beginning—the wine section. The book went to extensive depths to explain everything about the Southern Italian wines. However, those who are not interested in wines might find this section too much dragged out.

Also, the wines are hard to get if you’re living outside Italy( unless you prefer online shopping). 

Some of the ingredients mentioned in the book might be hard to come by. That depends mostly on which state you live in.

As it’s not written like your typical cookbook, many find the new format difficult to grasp.

Stand Out Recipes

Going through the book, I’ve highlighted some exceptional dishes I stumbled upon for the first time. Here’s some of the best A16 cookbook recipes:

Roasted Asparagus with Walnut Crema And Pecorino Tartufo

For our first recipe on the list, we chose this one.

Not only is it very easy to cook, the end product is just as aromatic. The fresh asparagus brings out the best of Walnut Crema. Topped up with Pecorino Tartufo, the walnut creates a nice base for the asparagus.

But if walnut is too bitter for your taste, you can substitute it with some pecans! 

Tuna Conserva with Tomatoes, Cucumbers, Capers and Bread

Here’s a recipe that requires very little cooking.

A bow to the classic Panzanella, this recipe has it all. From the crispness of the bread to the minty tomatoes and cucumber, the taste is heavenly.

If it’s not Tomato season, you can go with tiny, cherry tomatoes. Maybe add a bit of virgin olive oil with a touch of red wine vinegar. Throw in some Capers in the mix as well.

And you just got yourself a summertime special!

Bucatini with Oven-Roasted Tomatoes, Garlic, Chiles and Bottarga

Trust me, this recipe is exceptional!

Not going to lie, the ingredients were super hard to come by. In fact, I had to wait two whole weeks to get my hands on Bottarga. 

But the recipe was worth the wait. It’s a simple pasta meal. What made it special was the special sauce made of sun-dried tomatoes and garlic. And if you feel like being a bit more creative, you can throw in some fresh basil along it.

And that’s all the notable A16 recipes.


When was the A16: Food + Wine Released?

The A16: Food+Wine was first released on September 1, 2008. It’s a 288 page book available in all cover formats.

Does  A16: Food + Wine Cover All Italian Recipes?

No. But chef Nate Appleman has covered almost all the prominent south Italian recipes. You can also get a comprehensive review on famous south Italian wines.

Is the A16 Restaurant Good?

Yes. In fact, the A16 is one of the best restaurants out there in San Francisco. You can visit the restaurant in Chestnut St, San Francisco, CA 94123, United States.

Our Verdict

So that’s my A16 cookbook review. Hope you enjoyed the short read!

Despite all the little hiccups, the A16 is still a great cookbook for most. Once you’ve gathered all the rare ingredients, you can fix yourself a nice Italian dish. 

Grab the eccentric Italian cuisine you’ve been craving for!

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