The Tasting Panel magazine

November 2012

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Page 90 of 140

GREAT WINE LISTS Vox Populi "I Shelley Lindgren. f you build it, they will come." The ancient Romans probably thought that about the Colosseum, and Bay Area restaurateur Shelley Lindgren definitely had the same idea about her San Francisco restaurant, A16. She and her business partner, Victoria Libin, felt there was a need for a good wine bar in the city serving real Neapolitan- style pizza and other authentic fare. They even made a pilgrim- age to Southern Italy, driving through Campania and Puglia in search of the cuisine, wine and culture that would inform their new establishment, which they named after the main highway they traveled on. A16 opened in 2004 to rave reviews. Wine is a major component of A16, as well as of their follow- up restaurant, SPQR—the Latin initials for Senatus Populusque Romanus (Senate and People of Rome), the motto of the Roman republic. A16 features strictly Southern Italian cuisine, abetted by a wine list that's 70 percent Italian, with heavy emphasis on lesser-known regions such as Campania, Puglia, Basilicata and Sicily, complemented by small-production New World bottlings. "Varietals like Fiano d'Avellino, Greco di Tufo and Negroamaro don't take as much hand-selling as they used to," Lindgren says, noting that her wine-savvy clientele is mov- ing beyond the "comfort zone" of Tuscany, whose wines are nowhere to be found at A16. Shelley Lindgren's new book, The SPQR Food & Wine Book, authored with SPQR Executive Chef Matthew Accarrino and writer Kate Leahy, has just been published. Lindgren's informative essays on Italian wines perfectly complement the enticing recipes from Chef Accarino. Lavishly illustrated, this compre- hensive guide to contemporary Italian food and wine makes a great holiday gift for the Italophile on your list. From Ten Speed Press, $35 hardcover. 90 / the tasting panel / november 2012 At SPQR, where a modern interpretation of Italian cuisine prevails, the wine list is daringly all-Italian. "It's a wonder- ful way to enjoy food and wine on the level of the Italians," Lindgren says of her concept for SPQR. At both restaurants, where Lindgren takes the role of Wine Director, the by-the- glass program is "a huge part of what we do," says the 24-year front-of-the-house veteran, who trained in several top-notch San Francisco restaurants. Serving up to 45 wines by the glass as well as in half-bottle carafes "allows customers to explore the list," she explains. Staff education, too, is a concern at both restaurants. "We support education and travel for staff," says Lindgren, who knows from her own experience that there's nothing like tasting Italy in situ. "Our staff mem- bers always come back with fresh information." House-made salumi and locally-grown produce put seasonality front-and-center in the kitchen, but Lindgren admits to keeping a few "sacred cows" on the menu, including perennial favorite maccaronara with tomato ragu. Fans of this cuisine will have something to look forward to in early 2013, when Lindgren and Libin will open A16 Rockridge across San Francisco Bay in Oakland's foodie-centric Rockridge neighborhood. SAN FRANCISCO RESTAURATEUR SHELLEY LINDGREN DOES ITALIAN THE ITALIAN WAY by David Gadd PHOTO: FRANKIE FRANKENY

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