A Conversation with Shelley Lindgren of A16 and Rolando Beramendi
3 Questions with the Co-Owner and Wine Director of A16 Restaurant
To celebrate National Pizza Month (October!) Rolando sat down with our friend Shelley Lindgren, one of the most respected voices in Italian wine and food, and Co-Owner and Wine Director of A16, a Verace Pizza Napoletana-certified pizzeria. Shelley's first cookbook, A16: Food + Wine, was awarded Cookbook of the Year at the prestigious 2009 IACP Cookbook Awards. Over slices of authentic Neopolitan pizza at A16, Rolando asked Shelley to share her wisdom about Italian pizza in the States.
RB: What is your philosophy on pizza toppings?
SL: We generally go classic VPN standards on the traditional, lighter side on the toppings because it’s all about the dough. The toppings we do put on, we want them to stand out and compliment the crust. We love the Double 8 Jersey Fior di latte and then focus on seasonal ingredients for the others, besides the margherita and marinara of course which are always staples on the menu.
RB: What do you think of Roman-style pizza?
SL: I love Roman-style pizza and especially what Montesacro has brought to San Francisco with his pinseria. I've had thinner crust Roman pizzas in Rome and it is delicious. I've also had thicker, bread-like slices in Rome that offer a great quick option. The slower cooked, thin pizza is also a celebrated pizza, just a lower temperature oven that dries the dough to more of a crisp style. UNESCO promoted Pizza Napoletana a cherished Italian food. California pizza also has a great place. SF is offering more pizza than ever, which is great for our younger generations to understand what Italian pizza is. What we understand as pizza in our culture can be almost not considered pizza by Italian definition. Italy has taught the world so much about how to approach and prepare food by ingredients available. There will continue to be variations on Italian food that become localized all over the world.
RB: Any special advice for specialty food shops and chefs across the country you would like to share?
SL: I think when it comes to food and wine, it is good to think about value and quality. There are many options as consumers, and we can make a difference by carefully selecting products that will make food taste the best and wine match. I recommend to taste before buying as often as possible. We use Rustichella d'Abruzzo pasta in our restaurants and I can buy it at most grocery stores I shop for at my house. The same can be said for olive oil brands, tomatoes, etc. In a world where food delivery is increasing, we are bridging Italy directly to consumers, a very fulfilling responsibility.
Visit Shelley at A16 in San Francisco and Oakland.
Order Shelley's award-winning cookbook, A16: Food + Wine HERE.