I am obsessed with pizza. Who can resist the combination of fresh oven baked bread, rich tomato sauce, fresh melted cheese and your choice of vegetables and/or cured meats? I know I can’t! It is not only delicious but a versatile meal perfect for breakfast (preferably cold), lunch, and dinner. I’ve had a lot of delicious food in my life and have eaten everything from bone marrow (YUM!) to live flying shrimp (YES!), however, I always come back to pizza as one of my favorite meals.
In search for the best pizza joint in Puerto Rico, Fernando and I stopped by Juan Pan Pizza last Sunday. It is 20-year-old family owned Argentinian pizza and pasta restaurant located at Piñero Avenue.
The restaurant is intimate and colorful. Its walls are decorated with images of Carlos Gardel (an Argentinian singer, songwriter and actor), as well as varied memorabilia and collectibles.
As our starters, we ordered the empanadas al horno. For those of you who are not familiar with this yummy dish, it is basically a crescent shaped pastry that can be stuffed with different types of fillings and is cooked in the oven. Fernando decided to go with the caprese empanada (tomato and cheese) while I ordered the cheese and onion empanada.
The empanadas were brought to our table in approximately 5 minutes. I immediately mentioned to my husband that this seemed strange to me since they typically take from 15-20 minutes in the oven to cook. As I took my first bite, my suspicions were confirmed. The empanadas had been reheated instead of baked from scratch. This turned the typically crispy empanada crust into chewy bland one. This was a little disappointing, however, they were pretty tasty.
We then proceeded to order our main courses, which proved to be a very difficult task since the restaurant has a vast selection of pizzas. The pizzas come in three sizes: personal (4 slices), medium (6 slices), and large (8 slices). You also have the option of ordering them with the regular crust (pan pizza) or thin crust. I decided to go with the small thin crust Piazzola (mozzarella, prosciutto, and natural tomato marinated with garlic). I added onions as an extra topping. Fernando went with the regular crust Fiesta Suprema (mozzarella, tomato, mushrooms, onions, broccoli, spinach, green peppers, and grated parmesan cheese).
As soon as our pizzas arrived to the table we were taken aback by the incredible smell they were emitting. The crust on my pizza was crispy yet full flavored. The prosciutto was just right; it had not dried out or curled while baking which was a plus. I particularly enjoyed that instead of regular tomato sauce, they used natural tomato marinated with garlic, which complemented the dish very well. The onions were mildly sweet and not overpowering. Each bite of that pizza was simply heavenly!
As we frequently do when we eat out, Fernando and I switched plates mid meal so we could taste each other’s pizza. I enjoyed his veggie pizza, however, I noticed that instead of using fresh mushrooms they used canned mushrooms, which is a BIG NO NO for me. I understand that canned mushrooms are cheaper and less time consuming than fresh ones which in order to taste good as a topping need to be lightly sautéed. However, I believe that the extra effort goes a long way since I prefer ingredients to be as fresh as possible.
For dessert, we ordered the dulce de leche crepe (one of my favorite desserts) and requested that they add vanilla ice cream to the dish. It was decadent! The combination of the crepe and warm dulce de leche filling with the cold ice cream was simply perfection. Each bite melted in your mouth.
My only problem with Juan Pan Pizza was their service. The servers were not attentive and did not approach your table unless summoned. I cannot stress enough how important good service is to the overall dining experience. There is no doubt that diners want to be treated well, because when you aren’t, you are less likely to return.
Even though our experience at Juan Pan Pizza was a mixed one, we would recommend you paying a visit and trying them out. They have ample parking space and decent prices. Appetizers range from $6.00 to $13.00 dollars and main courses range from $10.00 to $30.00 dollars. Don’t forget to order an ice-cold Quilmes with your pizza, you won’t regret it!
PS: Stay tuned for our next installment of the Pizza Diaries as we continue our search for the best pizza in Puerto Rico.