In recent years, the commercial pizza game has seen a dramatic shift. Gone are the days when a gooey slice the size of your face will suffice. Pizza lovers have grown tired of the triangular-shaped grease stain left behind on a paper plate. Flour-dusted lips and oily fingers just don’t cut it anymore. Don’t get me wrong, there will always be an audience of cheese addicts to support establishments like Enzo’s and CollegeTown Pizza. But, as the fast-casual industry continues to move in a healthier direction, even the nation’s favorite cheat meal will have to catch up.
From the creators of the Collegetown classic, Luna Street Food, Pronto Ithaca is the newest eatery located at 120 Dryden Road. Serving pizzas, salads and a few sides, Pronto has already become a takeout and delivery staple for Cornell students in the few weeks since its opening. The atmosphere is brightly lit and fast-paced, with friendly employees rushing and joking around behind the counter. Their seating is limited to only three indoor booths and two outdoor tables, so as the weather gets colder and the tables fill up, customers will have to weigh eating their food fresh out of the oven or searching for a warmer spot elsewhere.
The food is prepared in what I can only refer to as Chipotle-style. Customers move along the counter and pick from their handmade doughs and toppings, which range from your typical onions and olives to some unique options like marinated tofu and avocado ranch drizzle. The vegetable and protein options are diverse, but the real game-changers are the dietary options. Pronto’s cauliflower crust is nothing close to a typical dough, but according to my gluten-free friends, it doesn’t taste like cauliflower (and for a lot of gluten-free eaters, that’s enough). They also have an unmatched selection of eight kinds of cheese, one of which is a vegan option. Once you have built your pie, it takes no more than five minutes to cook in the 700 degree oven, giving you just enough time to gather your utensils and claim your seat.
The plentiful topping choices give the decent pizza crusts and subpar lettuce the flavor boost that they desperately need. As with most pizzerias, you can either trust their house specialties or rely on your own flavor-pairing skills to guide you through. My first time at Pronto, I built my own pie with the vegan cheese, chickpeas, onions, arugula and barbeque drizzle. I was actually impressed by how well the vegan cheese melted (someone remind me to ask what brand they use!). For my next visit, I built a salad with their marinated tofu, cranberries and almonds. It would have been underwhelming without the added texture, so I’m glad I didn’t go with one of their classics. Based on the reviews I’ve gathered from friends, it seems like being creative with your flavor choices is the best path. I would recommend switching up your usual, as an atypical combo like their Blackberry Ricotta pie might pleasantly surprise you.
Whether it’s for a casual dinner with friends or a study snack in the dorm, the fresh, locally-sourced ingredients make Pronto a responsible and enjoyable meal. They hit the nail on the head for the priorities of most college students — relatively affordable, conveniently located and fast. If you’re planning a special night out, I would look elsewhere, but for a reliably tasty, no-regrets meal, Pronto is your spot.
Sadie Groberg is a freshman in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. She can be reached at [email protected].