Originally located in old San Juan, this authentic Italian restaurant opened 20 years ago by Franco Seccarelli has had a loyal following over the years. Recently, he moved to a modern office tower in the city’s financial district. The cozy ambiance was lost as the new location is a glass-enclosed and wood-lined modern interior, but the food has remained the same – classic Italian dishes presented with fresh ingredients. There is an Enoteca with a large bar, a superb wine list and simple tables for a casual meal and the adjacent main restaurant with white linen-covered tables and a more subdued atmosphere.
The selection changes with the seasons and when we went, there were a few heartier “winter” dishes like rabbit on the menu. We settled on three appetizers to share: the goat cheese salad, baked aubergine and beef carpaccio. Our meal began with warm ciabatta served with olive oil then an amuse bouche of cod croquette.
The beef carpaccio was perfect – paper thin slices of beef topped with the classic shards of Parmesan and spicy baby arugula. The goat cheese salad was actually not a salad but a chunk of creamy warm goat’s cheese served with fresh pesto and delicious spread on crispy bread. I liked the tower of aubergines best – soft and smoky eggplant slices topped with melted cheese and accompanied by a light tomato sauce.
We all chose pasta for our second course – spinach and ricotta gnocchi for A, penne arrabbiata for J and the tagliolini amatricana for me. The gnocchi were soft pillows of spinach flavored potato balls, surprisingly light yet creamy. My tagliolini amatriciana was complemented with the flavor of the bacon, onions and tomatoes. J’s penne was a bit of a disappointment with the tomato sauce being tart rather than spicy. We ended dinner with a shared tiramisu – o.k. but lacking in coffee flavor and the accompanying mush of soaked savoaiardi (ladyfingers). The chef came over to say hello and we promised to be back another time, perhaps for lunch when I imagine the place would be bright and sunny.
Il Nuovo Perugino
Popular Center Atrium
Hato Rey Financial District
Telephone: +1 787 722 5481
*Open for lunch Mondays to Fridays from 11:30 a.m.
*Open for dinner Tuesdays to Saturdays from 6:30 to 10:30 p.m.