Masafina Pizza Beer Wine in the Miramar district of San Juan is fast becoming a neighborhood staple even for those who don't live in the Miramar environs. For area residents, it is a welcome walk-in alternative and, for nonresidents, it is an opportunity to enjoy the neighborhood feeling that has permeated these streets for more than 100 years…a classic Miramar house, painted a warm, thick red that contrasts harmoniously with the soft, green, bushy crowns of the ucar trees nearby…
But hey, first things first: Masafina is a place that finally lets us say, once again, those words that had been muted by these past years of economic nose-diving—"Let's go out!"—and awakens tastebuds numbed by daily rations of recession soup and mac 'n' cheese.
The Masafina experience is worth every cent: the food, the service and the atmosphere. Regarding the food, Celeste Martínez Pérez, one of the three founders and proprietors of the restaurant, said that the concept was to blend the thin-crust-pizza style so in vogue nowadays with a local touch. The result is a thin-crust pizza that is toasty and solid enough to handle historically Puerto Rican ingredients such as queso del país, longaniza, arañitas (shaved fried plantain bits) and amarillitos, with classic pizza ingredients such as pesto and tomato sauce, tomatoes, black olives and mozzarella cheese.
They do pull it off, achieving a balance of ingredients that result in a new savory experience—at prices that range from $6.99 to $15. The pizzas, all named after surrounding Miramar streets, include the Cuevillas, which consists of filet mignon, mixed greens, amarillitos, onions and chimichurri; and the Trigo, which consists of cilantro pesto, Carbacheula cheese, garlic oil and oregano brujo, which, depending on the country, is called big, Indian or Mexican thyme in English.
You also can create your own Masafina pizza, and kids can count on a menu specially designed for them, but as tasty as the adult selections.
As for drinks, Masafina's head of staff and manager is none other than sommelier Franco Busó García, who will take care of pairing your pizza with the perfect wine or beer, from local Medalla to the more than 20 brands of craft beer at your disposal.
"We wanted to create a place for anyone whose idea of enjoying life includes a nice, friendly place with good food, friendly staff and just that type of atmosphere that tells you that this is your place, your neighborhood," said Martínez Pérez, who along with Evelyn Jiménez Rivera and María Luisa Montalvo Vera founded the restaurant not even a month ago.
As if you haven't noticed, there's something about blending ingredients and culinary traditions to produce new, engaging recipes. That blending also is present in Masafina's atmosphere. You have your choice of sitting outside at long, wooden tables and benches under big umbrellas, or inside, where the decor is a mix of the traditional and the modern.
Yes, we know, "blend of traditional and modern" is probably one of the most overused phrases when describing new restaurants, and it usually means plenty of buffed stainless steel and dark wood. However, Masafina manages to include elements of decor that blend and…well, just like the food, you have to experience it.
On one side of the room you have a mural painted by local artist Mariela Acosta Padial that evokes traditional words such as trattoria and bistro, and the other side sports a slicker, hipper look that includes snippets of Chilean poet Pablo Neruda's odes to simple things, in this case food, of which Neruda was as fond as he was of words. Yet, these concepts don't clash nor add to each other— they just blend into one seamless experience.
Masafina is at 909 Las Palmas St. in Miramar, next to Galería Petrus, right there on the corner with Hoare Street. Telephone: 787-946-8605. Hours: Tuesday through Saturday, 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Valet parking available. Walkins are welcome and reservations are accepted. Takeout service is available as well.