Fresh Sicilian-style pizzas, creative salads and sides, and even fresh lemonade–that’s Pronto Pizza.
Located in a suburban strip mall next to an insurance company and a computer repair store, at first glance, Clackamas’ Pronto Pizza doesn’t look promising. But diners should definitely look beyond appearances because Pronto Pizza’s offerings, most using super fresh Northwest ingredients, are surprisingly delightful.
The new pizzeria occupies the former Sunshine Pizza digs in the Greenhouse Square mall off 82ndAvenue near highway 224. This area is a food lover’s desert with plenty of fast food chains and little else.
Pronto Pizza occupies a cavernous space—certainly big enough for those pizza birthday parties and sports team gatherings. They’ve remodeled the restaurant into a one-third, two-thirds space with the smaller side cordoned off by an attractive, see-thru metal divider with smaller tables and a quieter, more intimate-feeling space. The larger side offers both large communal tables and smaller four-tops as well as a smattering of video games, foos ball, and a small playroom for young children. It’s a family-friendly place and, when we visited recently on an early Friday night, several families with children were enjoying pizza, yet the space was still reasonably quiet. Two flat screen TVs, one on each side, and both tuned to sports, were unobtrusive. Tucked back by the bathrooms is a small room filled with video poker machines. This is truly a place where just about any type of diner will feel welcome.
We were greeted by a friendly and attentive staff. Our waiter, James, was all smiles, quick on his feet, and knowledgeable about the menu offerings. He made informed suggestions when we asked.
East Coast Pizza, West Coast Ingredients
Pronto specializes in Sicilian-style pizzas with thin, chewy crust with light and bubbly edges. Many have Northwest-inspired names, such as Sellwood, Willamette, Clackamas, Burnside, Old Town and Mt. Hood. You can also create your own pizza, with a maximum of four toppings, including two meats. For an extra $4, they’ll make any of their pizzas gluten-free.
House-made is one of their signatures – their own creamy ricotta, house-cured coppa, sausage, and pancetta. In addition to pizzas, they offer some interesting starters, a few salads, a couple of sandwiches, and fresh pasta dishes. They also have several vegan and gluten-free options, noted on the menu with v and gf.
They also feature a nice selection of beverages—five craft beers on tap, plus Coors, bottled Spere, O’Doul’s non-alcoholic and the usual soft drinks. They make their own iced tea and it’s a straight black, not the fruity varieties some restaurants insist on serving. One of the most interesting non-alcoholic beverages is their fresh squeezed rosemary lemonade. It isn’t too sweet, slightly sparkly and has a lilt of fresh rosemary that makes it a perfect summer drink.
We began our meal with a couple of starters – polenta fries with spicy aioli and roasted beets with warm crusted chevre. The fries came as chunky sticks of polenta, dusted with cheese and sea salt. They were satisfyingly crispy on the outside, creamy-tender on the inside. They’re served with a spicy aioli, that some may find a bit too spicy. While I loved the fries, the aioli left my mouth zinging and I’d have liked ketchup, preferably a nice house made one.
The beets and warm chevre hit all the right notes. Small and sweet local red, golden, and candy striped beets, perfectly cooked, come with a small amount of seasoned, slightly bitter arugula. It’s topped with crispy, melty goat cheese that made me swoon. While I was supposed to be sharing this beet dish, I ate it faster than my dining companion could keep up! When she turned her attention to this dish, I was slightly embarrassed there was little left.
We also ordered the panzanella salad, a generous portion large enough to share. Local, vine-ripened wedges of Early Girl and Sun Gold tomatoes were paired with chunks of crispy cucumber, shreds of fresh basil and arugula, pickled red onions, and big chunks of country bread all lightly dressed in a house made vinaigrette. While I loved the sweet tomatoes and crunchy cucumber and the freshness of the herbs, I’d have liked the bread to be a bit crunchier. My friend, however, had no such comments and, like I’d done with the beets, she made short work of this fresh summer salad.
Next came our pizzas. Because we wanted to try both the red and white sauces as well as some of their house cured meats and fresh ricotta, we ordered two 12” pizzas. (You can get half-half pizzas, but they must be all white or all red and, of course, we wanted both.) I don’t know what measuring stick the chefs at Pronto Pizza are using, but these were the largest 12-inchers I’ve ever ordered. They say this regular-sized pizza is enough to feed two or three and they’re not kidding. Pizzas also come in a large 16”.
For the red pizza, we ordered the Clackamas, with tomato sauce, fresh basil, spicy pepperoni, house made chunks of sausage, melty mozzarella and parmesan, all on a chewy, bubbly crust. They don’t skimp on ingredients—there was plenty of meat and lots of cheese—and the pie wasn’t overly-sauced.
The Willamette, a white pizza and a unanimous favorite, came with sweet roasted garlic, oregano, mozzarella, creamy house made ricotta, parmesan, provolone, fontina, and black pepper. Normally, I’m not a cheese pizza fan because they’re usually too bland for my taste, but The Willamette was creamy and complex-tasting. The cheeses were the perfect blend and the sweet roasted garlic and black pepper offered just the right accent.
We wanted to order dessert, especially because we’d heard they have a wonderful, house made gelato sandwich cookie, but there was no way. We were stuffed and we still had two half pizzas and several polenta fries left, all of which the staff cheerfully boxed up for us.
Real bottom line: Pronto Pizza is a welcome addition in an area sorely lacking in culinary choices. These folks know how to make good pizza (and we are super picky when it comes to pizza!). They care enough to use local, fresh ingredients and house made meats and ricotta and it shows in their dishes. We were genuinely impressed and, like the Arnold says, we’ll be back. – Bobbie Hasselbring, RFT Editor, Photos Anne Weaver, RFT Editor