LaScala’s Pronto Pizza
1501 Spring Garden Street
This week, we decided to hit up one of Center City’s best and brightest up and comers. If you frequent the area of the Community College of Philadelphia, then you definitely can’t miss “LaScala’s Pronto” staring you in your hungry face. The original LaScala’s is an authentic Italian restaurant located in the heart of historic Philadelphia at 7th and Chestnut. They’ve been pumping out some of the finest Italian cuisine in the city since 2005. I’ve partaken in their “lobster ravioli” a few years back and I can totally vouch for their deliciousness. About a year ago, the LaScala family decided to open up their second establishment “Pronto” a block west off of Broad Street and Spring Garden. “Pronto” basically accommodates all those white collar workers and college kids who don’t have the time or the luxury to dabble in a long sit-down meal on their lunch break. In addition to a full “LaScala’s inspired” menu consisting of some of their more popular lunch dishes (massive salads and authentic Italian pastas), they’ve added an entire selection of gourmet pizzas to choose from.
As soon as you make your way through the front doors, you’re greeted with about a dozen pies assuring you of what LaScala’s is really about. Enormous 16″ creations, brought to you by the same people who conjured up the Italian dishes that consistently make Philly’s best list year after year. I was like a needy kid at a toy store with his face pressed against the front window. “Mom, I want that the sausage! No, I want the cheesesteak!! Awwww, I need the meatball!” So many to choices, with so little time. I also couldn’t help but notice how immaculate the dining room and open kitchen prep area were. Not a speck of dirt anywhere. A pizza parlor this prestine is a rarety among Center City restuarants and deserves some mad props for their squeaky cleanliness. We ultimately agreed on 2 pies that everyone can associate with. Our first pick, the margherita pie, is sure to catch anyone’s eye whose trying to decide what to get for lunch. The beautiful, bright red hue of the sweet and zesty tomato sauce was a dream come true. The sauce was off set by huge milky-white dollops of melted mozzarella cheese slices. I managed to get there as soon as they opened for the business day, so my particular slice need not be reheated. It was freshly made and steaming from it’s 15 minute slumber in their 575 degree brick oven. Just as the pie was about to be cut, the chef rushed over 2 generous handfuls of basil that he had just chopped only a few seconds earlier and finished it off. The basil was such an amazing addition to this already remarkable pizza. At first bite, you can immediately tell that this sauce was handmade and ridiculously fresh. It was so ungodly sweet on the tongue that I needed a moment to reflect on how shitty my day was up until that point. As my teeth snagged away that first giant clump of melted mozzarella, all the components of this pie came together and I realized how perfect it really was.
The second pick for this week’s review went to the BBQ Chicken pizza. We’ve done more BBQ Chicken pizza’s over the last year and a half than anything else, and I would say majority of them were nothing more than an unoriginal and ordinary take on this generic recipe. Most people can identify with this choice of gourmet pizza because nearly every pizza joint offers it. Just because they added it to the menu, doesn’t necessarily mean they achieved a home run. LaScala’s is, without a doubt, the exception to that rule. It was stunning the second it was laid on my paper plate. Heaping portions of juicy grilled chicken infused with just the right amount of mozzarella cheese is the only base layer before it culminates with a cross drizzle of homemade BBQ sauce. As I took bite after bite of my slice, I tried to decipher anything other than the 3 ingredients; Chicken, cheese and BBQ Sauce…and I could not. The seasoned bits of diced chicken combined with the smokey, hickory BBQ sauce is all this slice needs to get the thumbs up. I was most impressed with LaScala’s take on a rather common and easily forgettable dish.
I walked into LaScala’s on a 16 hour empty stomach and 2 slices later I was completely and utterly satisfied. I venture into this part of the city probably 2-3 days of my work week. Rest assured, I’ll be stopping off at LaScala’s again in the near future for another stab at their Margerita pie. This newcomer has the potential to make it to our “Best of 2012” list.
As far back as I can remember, there hasn’t been any REALLY decent pizza around CCP. My friends used to live on Green Street right around the corner, so City View and Brandywine Pizza were pretty much the only two options for pizza in walking distance (and neither of which were impressive). Brandywine’s pizza was always super greasy, messy, and doughy. City View was a little better, but that doesn’t say much either. So it was definitely overdue for a legit pizzeria to open in the area. Enter: Pronto.
Pronto definitely caught my eye when I happened to be passing by 15th and Spring Garden on my lunch break. You could tell just by looking at it that they weren’t your run of the mill pizzeria. I immediately pulled over and knew this would be my lunch destination. With probably about eight different slice pies available, the vast options were more than Brandywine or City View could compete with. A slice of the Marg and BBQ Chicken seemed to be in order since they were both close to perfect looking. The Marg slice had such a thin crust and saucy base that it resembled a fine tomato pie, with sliced mozzarella delicately placed on various regions. Considering the past few Marg pies I’ve had were laden with mozzarella, the tomato sauce really popped at Pronto because of the sparing use.
The BBQ Chicken slice was equally as praiseworthy, with diced bits of chicken in each and every bite I took. Although the tangy BBQ sauce wasn’t really impressive, the abundance of chicken made up for it. But I truly believe that both pies were made so much better by the thin and crispy crust. The only drawback was that since I ordered from the slice pies, they weren’t reheated thoroughly enough. That being the case, I can only imagine how much a fresh Marg from there would taste. If you’re into a good thin crust pie in the area, look no further than Pronto. Don’t waste your time with the garbage in the CCP cafeteria.