First off, it is important to note that Prontos’ has been in business for 20 years in downtown Carlsbad. Given the plethora of dining options in the area, that in itself is a testament to the quality of this establishment.
I became aware of Prontos’ a few years back when my friend John Grimshaw, who worked at an ad agency nearby, took me there for lunch. The place was swarming with local office workers and had the energy of a big city deli so my first impression was a good one. I soon discovered why this place was always busy; they were cranking out some seriously good food on a daily basis. My office recently relocated to Carlsbad and that gave me another opportunity to rediscover this local gem and it’s become a regular stop on my lunch circuit.
Prontos’ is a family owned and operated by award winning chef Gerry and his wife Sylvia. Originally from Toronto, Canada, they were the proprietors there of the landmark fine dining Italian restaurant Trattoria Via Veneto. The market is filled with the highest quality foods and wines Gerry and Sylvia love. The winning combination of quality products and friendly service has established Prontos’ as a Carlsbad landmark.
I’m a huge fan of Prontos’ signature sandwiches. One of my favorites is the Tuscan roast beef sub that is topped with thinly sliced, medium rare, very tender roast beef, provolone cheese, peppercinis, red onions, lettuce onion and vinaigrette. I’ve also discovered their nice selection of garden fresh salads, healthy low-carb wraps, delicious paninis and ever changing selections of soup. The fresh vegetable minestrone is still their most popular soup.
Prontos’ is also known for their homemade gourmet dinners to go. They have a nice selection of freshly prepared meals that includes lasagna, osso bucco, meatloaf, pot roast, risotto, and lobster mac and cheese. The in-house bakery cranks out a nice assortment of pastries, fresh baked bread, desserts and custom cakes. Dessert favorites include strawberry shortcake, lemonade bars, coconut cream cake, mini key lime pies and fresh blueberry cheesecake, and walnut brownies. They also offer a full service catering department where you can have fresh gourmet food delivered and served at your next party or event. Prontos' did not stop at prepared foods; they also have a nice wine department, a packaged gourmet food section along with deli meats and cheeses. Every time I go in for lunch, I’m tempted to walk away with some of these gourmet items.
All of this great food taps fresh herbs and tomatoes from Prontos’ garden, along with lemons, limes and figs for their pastry chef. They buy a good portion of their produce from a local farmer in Carlsbad they have used for years and they source avocados from vista. Turkey breast is free range and roasted in house they also smoke their own turkey and chicken breast for their lunch and dinner specials. Menu development is a group effort and the staff has daily meeting where employees are encouraged to bring new dishes and trends to the table. Much of the staff has been with Prontos’ for more than 10 years which has resulted in few staff weddings and many have continued on to culinary school. Happy employees usually equal attention to detail and quality and that is very evident at Prontos’.
Customers also play a big role at Prontos’ and their suggestions are often added to the menu. I noticed a dialogue between customers and staff that I’ve not seen at many restaurants. When I asked around, everyone seemed to have several favorites and were eager to discuss them. It’s that kind of customer passion that keeps a restaurant around for 20 years.
There are staples on the menu, but with the ever changing seasonal and daily specials, their website is up to date with the latest offerings. Prontos’ is worth checking out regardless of where you live in North County. It’s a place that other restaurateurs should also spend some time at to get some tips on how to make a restaurant last. Prontos’ is located at 2812 Roosevelt Street, Carlsbad. They are open from 9am to 6pm Monday – Friday. Reach them at 760.434.2644 or www.prontosmarket.com