This Campania cuisine-themed Italian restaurant may be named after a freeway (the A 16 autostrada), but it’s more of a trendy hipster spot than you’ll find in most of Napoli — or at least among places that aren’t blaring Eurodance music. Inside they have cork floors and walls in the wine bar in front, a old school foosball table in the middle, and a wide open kitchen and dining area at the rear.
When they first opened a couple years back, they served authentic Neapolitan Kimbo coffee pulled from a two-group La Pavoni machine and served in Kimbo-logo cups for a mere $1.75. But as this restaurant developed a buzz, they smartly opted for higher espresso standards. Their upgraded coffee setup now has all the hallmarks of James Freeman’s consulting hand (James founded/owns Oakland’s Blue Bottle Coffee): they now serve local Blue Bottle Coffee shots from a Faema machine (with dual E61 group heads) in traditional, thick-walled brown Nuova Point cups. They also clearly ugpraded the price from $1.75.
While it’s decidedly less Neapolitan in authenticity, coffee that’s gone stale after weeks on a shipping pallet sent from Italy isn’t exactly high cuisine either.
A 16 now serves espresso with a somewhat thicker, medium brown, mottled crema. In replacing their Kimbo coffee, they went from a dry, grainy, grassy flavor to something that’s now much more refined and fresh tasting — a more complex blend of thyme, cedar, and some smokiness. They serve a true macchiato here (instead of something that looks more like a drowning cappuccino), and they use metal French presses and Blue Bottle beans for their drip coffee.
Restaurants take note: this is a big step for a restaurant in the direction of offering a legitimate espresso to finish your otherwise masterfully prepared meal. Chances are that the last thing your patrons will take home with them is the taste of your espresso, so think about how you want them to remember their dining experience.
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