In the wake of a Covid lockdown and many restrictions owner Natasha Maciel came up with a way to reinvent the much-awarded Pronto brand (the restaurant opened in 2004), and to infuse it with new energy. The place is still a neighbourhood favourite, and on any day attracts regulars, but its new deli is an answer to all those trips Italian food lovers in northern Johannesburg take to Joburg's eastern side, which until now offered the greatest choice of Italian food products.
Opening the deli has meant Pronto has been able to retain the team of people who helped build the business. It has also brought a different sense of community. As Natasha puts it, the change has given her an opportunity to reconnect with Italian food suppliers across Johannesburg, sourcing high-quality ingredients and food items, from award-winning olive oil to pasta, cheeses, freshly baked breads and baked goods from small and specialist suppliers. We love the commitment to supporting local small-scale farmers and producers, along with small businesses and women-owned businesses, and her enthusiasm for what has been an immense challenge to work through.
The deli is filled with delicious premium and yet good-value food products. You'll also find a great selection of frozen take home meals which includes pasta sauces, lasagne, ravioli, amazing frozen pizza and soups plus homemade Italian ice cream as well as pantry items (under guidance we went home with a batch of chocolate chip cookies and instructions to jam these with ice cream – our kind of ideal sandwich). The sourdough loaves are also excellent.
Home cooks will love the deli, as will those who love a home-cooked meal but would rather have someone else prepare it.
The restaurant is now a cosier spot with the deli taking up most of the entrance, and a large wraparound terrace offers plenty of space to enjoy a meal in sunshine.
The menu is filled with exciting options for casual Italian fare with a fantastic choice of antipasti, salads, pasta dishes and customisable pizza options. We love the wide choice of pasta dishes, that includes an exceptional variety of vegetarian options among them linguine with Porcini, and the long-time favourite artichoke, white wine and ricotta penne dish, as well as a number of seafood and meat sauces (if you are an artichoke fan be sure to take some home from the deli – they are excellent). The sauces can all be ordered with a carb-free and gluten-free corn and quinoa penne, pleasing all tastes. Desserts are a crowd pleaser with classics like affogato, creme brulee and a hot chocolate fondant.
In all the atmsophere is warm, the staff friendly and Natasha has a way of putting anyone at ease. She also offers great recommendations on how to pair deli iems to ensure your next meal has that Pronto touch. It's not hard to see why this business is still around after so many years and has also managed to weather the latest storm.
For online orders see Pronto's website or use WhatsApp +27 66 272 4227. Pronto offers delivery in a 7km radius or drive-through curb-side collection.
Open 08:00–20:00, Sun 08:00–16:00. Closed Mon.