As the years pass by, you realize that spending time with your friends gets more difficult. Work and family seem to take more and more of your time and in order to meet up with your friends, you sometimes have to schedule it just like you would a business meeting. Luckily, every two weeks or so, my girlfriends and I make a point out of catching up over dinner and drinks. On this occasion, we decided to check out Miramar’s newcomer: Melanzana Bistro & Pizzeria.
Chef Luigi Olivella, the restaurant’s main attraction, is the only certified Naepolitan Pizza Chef in Puerto Rico. For those of you not familiar with the process, the Associazione Vera Piza Napoletana is an organization in Napoli, which certifies the chefs and/or pizzerias using the proper ancient artisan traditions of the authentic Naepolitan Pizza. They set out very specific rules that must be followed in order to create it. The dough must be hand pressed with Italian flour with the precise amount of water. The tomatoes must be Italian (San Marzano tomatoes). Only Mozzarella di Bufala or Fior-Di-Latte (fresh mozzarella made with either buffalo milk or cow milk) is permitted and the pizza is baked at a temperature of 900 degrees Fahrenheit in a wood-burning oven for no more than 60-90 seconds. These are just a handful of the lengthy criteria that has to be met in order to acquire the certification. For complete information click here.
After being seated, we decided that we wanted to try out a little bit of everything on the menu. “That sounds like a great plan to me” – I said. As our starters, we decided to order the Veal Meatballs in Osso Buco sauce, the Prosciutto and Potato Croquettes, and the Veal Arancini (one of the off menu specials).
The Veal Meatballs in Osso Buco quickly arrived at the table. The meatballs were tender and light. Since they were braised in the osso buco sauce, it gave them an amazingly rich flavor. The meatballs were topped with both sautéed and crispy onions (YUM!).
Next up were the Prosciutto and Potato Croquettes, which had all the makings of a delicious dish. However, this was no the case due to the fact that the croquettes were overly salted.
Our final appetizer, the Veal Arancini was the crowd favorite. Each heavenly bite left us wanting for more. These irresistible crispy-coated risotto balls are a definite must have when visiting Melanzana.
For our main courses, we decided to order the traditional Pizza Margherita, the Mushroom Cannelloni (off menu special), and the Chicken Marsala.
We were highly anticipating the Pizza Margherita and were not disappointed. The dough was supple and soft with a delicate crispness. The sweet and vibrant tomato sauce was in perfect proportion to the mozzarella on the surface of the pie. It was topped with fresh basil leaves. The pizza was simple and elemental, yet thoroughly satisfying.
Quickly after we polished up the pizza, we were served the Mushroom Cannelloni. It had just the right balance of flavors. The combination of the savory ricotta cheese with the sharp Gorgonzola was just delicious!
For our final course, we had the Chicken Marsala. It looked absolutely gorgeous. The slightly crispy chicken, the rich pan sauce, and the juicy mushrooms were perfection. It came with a side of fettuccine that was cooked al dente (LOVE IT!).
Overall, the girls and I had an amazing time at Melanzana Bistro & Pizzeria. At the restaurant you will find good food, great service, and competitive prices. Insiders tip: If you are planning on checking out Melanzana, do not forget to make reservations before you visit the restaurant because it is usually packed.