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Appetizer of Eggplant, Tomato and Burrata with Anchovy Breadcrumbs

If you have plans in the future to visit San Francisco and wonder where to eat, let me recommend a couple of restaurants to you that are really exceptional - A16 and SPQR.  They are sister restaurants, with the same owner, Shelly Lindgren, at the helm.  They are both Italian restaurants and serve outstanding food and wine.  I guarantee you will not have a bad meal at either place.  A16 focuses on the food and wine of the Campania (Naples) region of Italy.  A16 is the name of the road that runs through that part of Italy.  SPQR, if you have ever been to Rome, are the initials that are stamped into everything in the city - from manhole covers to coins. It means "The Senate and People of Rome".  Tip: if you go to SPQR, sit at the Cook's Counter and watch them prepare the food. 

When Shelly Lindgren and the other original owners opened A16 back in 2004, they wanted to open a great wine bar that served Neapolitan style pizza, something lacking in the Bay area.  Since then, A16 has become much more, with incredible handmade pastas and other dishes on the menu. It's wine service and menu is so outstanding it won a James Beard award this year.   Yet this little place is unpretentious and casual but the food will knock your socks off.  The servers do an excellent job of helping you choose a wine - they steered us to a little known organic wine from Puglia that we had never heard of and we thoroughly enjoyed it.  

The last time we were here, we had an appetizer of eggplant, tomatoes, burrata and anchovy breadcrumbs that I absolutely loved.  It inspired me to try to recreate it. Here's my version.  It's simple and easy to whip up - no frying of the eggplant, just a quick roast in the oven.  If you've never had Burrata cheese, it's actually much easier to find now in the grocery stores.  It's fresh mozzarella balls that have cream in the middle.  It's super luscious.  Then you add raw tomatoes, fresh basil and divine crunchy breadcrumbs that are crisped up in a little olive oil and melted anchovy. Don't let the anchovy scare you - it adds a layer of flavor to the breadcrumbs that you absolutely want.  Be brave.  Give it a try.

Open up a great red wine and enjoy.


Eggplant, Tomato and Burrata with Anchovy Breadcrumbs

for a printable recipe click here

serves 4-6 as an appetizer

for the eggplant:
2 small eggplant, cubed
1 teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon sea salt 
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 

for the tomatoes:
28 cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
¼ teaspoon sea salt
1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil 

for the breadcrumbs:
1 Tablespoon olive oil 
1 anchovy filet
½ cup freshly grated breadcrumbs (you can use a coarse cheese grater or a food processor)
¼ teaspoon sea salt 

a few leaves of fresh basil
4-6 ounces of fresh Burrata
sea salt 


Preheat the oven to 400° F.  Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and spray lightly with cooking spray.

Toss the eggplant in a medium bowl with the other ingredients for the eggplant.  Spread on the baking sheet. (Don't wash the bowl. ) Roast for about 20 minutes. Spread the eggplant on a serving platter and allow to cool slightly. 

In the same bowl, toss the tomatoes with the vinegar, sea salt and olive oil.  Allow to sit while you prepare the breadcrumbs.

In a medium skillet, heat the olive oil and gently fry the anchovy until it dissolves.  Add the breadcrumbs and salt and fry until golden brown. Remove from heat and spread on a plate to cool.

Layer the tomatoes on top of the eggplant.  Shred basil leaves over the top.  Take the balls of Burrata and pull apart and lay on top of the tomatoes.  Sprinkle a little sea salt on top of the Burrata. Sprinkle the anchovy breadcrumbs on top. Serve immediately. 

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Reader Comments (10)

We won't be going to San Francisco any time soon so this recipe is really appreciated!! It sounds delicious and I can't wait to make it. It is amazing that for most of our married life (46yrs) we have not been enjoying anchovies. It's like we've made a new discovery. We are buying multi packages and using them up. I did cook with them but that was all. This recipe will let us use more of our delicious anchovies. Grazie!! Buona Giornata!

Do you think that zucchini would work as a substitute for eggplant?

July 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterLinda

This looks absolutely amazing. I have to try this very soon! Perhaps for my daughter's bridal shower.

July 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterTania

From The Italian Dish:

Linda: You can, but it just won't have the meaty flavor that eggplant has!

July 10, 2015 | Registered Commenter[Elaine]

OMG ! Can't wait to make this. Our dinner group for August is an Italian theme. This will blow them away!!

July 10, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterPriscilla

Do you use fresh anchovies or the canned, two complete different tastes.

July 13, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJoseph

I made for my husband and me last Sunday as a trial run before we have dinner guests this weekend. Can't find the Burrata so used pearl mozzarella. It was fine. I toasted baguette slices to put the appetizer on. This was yummy and will definitely repeat this one many times.

July 15, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterKathie

We are making this tonight for our Italian inspired dinner. Sounds so tasty and looks great too!

I'm making this to take to a dinner party tonight. Can any of this be done ahead or is it supposed to be served warm? I was thinking I could assemble all but the bread crumbs and finish it off when I get there. It sounds so good, I can't wait to make it! Thank you for this!

August 8, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterKris

Kris: I like to serve this at room temperature actually. you don't want to put the tomatoes on top of hot eggplant. so you can get all the ingredients ready separately-the eggplant and tomatoes can remain at room temperature for a while. then you can assemble the dance right beforehand. hope this helps.

August 8, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterThe Italian Dish

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