Appetizer of Eggplant, Tomato and Burrata with Anchovy Breadcrumbs
July 9, 2015

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. 

Article originally appeared on The Italian Dish (
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