Eat, Drink, and Be Mary: Neighborhood perfection

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By Brock Daniels, PQ Monthly

Crossing the country, and even the world, the practiced traveler will find the greatest local eateries on the outskirts of town in the quaint, less-walked neighborhoods. These flavor-focused establishments are motivated by quality rather than mass production; sharing many years of tradition, passion, and unparalleled technique.

That is exactly what we have in Clackamas at the brand new Pronto Pizza. Under the direction of Linda Shankweiller (departing design director for The Oregonian’s MIX Magazine) and Cynthia Cesnalis with newly relocated Manhattan top chef Nick Ford, Pronto Pizza is “reminiscent of New York City, a hint of New Haven, and a bit of Napoli with a local twist right here in Clackamas.”

Naples and New York are both cited as influences on the pie style at Pronto Pizza in Clackamas.
Naples and New York are both cited as influences on the pie style at Pronto Pizza in Clackamas.

Shankweiller shares, “Everything is house made, market-fresh, with a focus on using local organic ingredients.”

Taking over the old Sunshine Pizza location at 16050 SE 82nd Dr. has been quite a bit of work. Updating the over 30-year-old kitchen and dining room required the help of Portland architect Ellen Fortin.

“We are looking for a more modernized, intimate dining space,” Shankweiller explains. A place where anyone can come, relax, and enjoy really good local food. Future upgrades to the spacious location include a small market-type area where fresh house-made pastas and sauces, and specialty ingredients can be sold to go and cooked at home. An old fashioned ice cream counter is in the works now, to accommodate their soon-to-come in-house, handcrafted gelato — a tasty treat for Clackamas that will combine nostalgic soda jerk flair with smooth, sophisticated gelato.

Starters like the herb flatbread ($3.50), a Sardinian-style crispy flatbread with fresh herbs, sea salt, and olive oil, and the roasted asparagus ($7) with hot chilies, pickled onion, and bacon vinaigrette, topped with a warm poached egg, will get your taste buds ready for the incredible pizza to come. Triple zero flour straight from Italy is combined with a local high-protein flour to make the crust for all the pizzas. The three-day crust creation process ensures the final product will be gently crispy, purposely lightly charred, and chewy — proving that San Francisco-derived mentor Chris Whaley succeeded in bringing his talents to Pronto Pizza.

Traditional San Marzano tomatoes are crushed for the base of the margherita pizza ($14/$16). Farmers market basil, fresh hand-pulled mozzarella, parmesan cheese, and olive oil round out the simple and delicious masterpiece. The sauceless “white” pizzas are culinary requirements at Pronto Pizza. The Mount Hood — potato, bacon, roasted garlic, scallion, mozzarella, and Fontina cheese — proves that a food-centric approach is the goal. Creamy, soft and delicate, the toppings accent the mastered foundation — the crust. After all, what is a great pizza without perfect crust?

Enjoy a $1 draft PBR during happy hour from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day. Play a game of shuffleboard and eat amazing food. Everything from single dining to large group functions is available. Large family dinners, sports team banquets, and parties are all welcome. A two-day heads-up call would be appreciated for large parties, as the dough is hand made, and prepared from scratch.

If authentic Naples- and Manhattan-style pizzas had a baby, that offspring would be Pronto Pizza in Clackamas. Bringing the food focus and “local” approach out of the big city and into the burbs of Portland, Pronto Pizza is going to be a hot destination spot for great food and authentic pizza. I am excited to see the location transform as they continue to build their vision. For now, amazing food will keep me coming back.

Pronto Pizza

16050 SE 82nd Dr.
Clackamas, OR 97015
503-655-5094
www.prontopizzabar.com

Brock Daniels, a Pacific Northwest native, has studied wine, culinary arts, gastronomy, and loves researching new food. Brock has written a self-published cookbook titled “Our Year in the Kitchen.” Reach him at brock@pqmonthly.com.