Pronto is an Italian restaurant, founded in 1988 by film director Rafi Adar (who just announced his departure from the restaurant). In 2010 Chef David Frenkel joined him to create a classic Italian cuisine combining mediterranean ingredients.
Pronto is thought of as one of the best restaurants in Israel, loved both by diners and critics. It is ranked #4 on The Table list and received great reviews on media time after time. We were in the area at noon so we seized the opportunity to book a table for lunch, as we thought this would be a sure hit. Unfortunately we couldn’t be more wrong.
The lunch deal is served on Sunday-Thursday between 12:30-16:00. At the price of the main course you get both a start course as well as coffee (and no, you can’t switch it to a soft drink). The main courses range from 74₪\$20 (Goat Cheese Ravioli \ Lamb Ragout Fusilli) to 138₪\$38 (Grilled Steak). There are 4 starters that do not require extra charge and 4 others that require an addition of 10₪-12₪\$3.
Even though not stated on the menu, we got a mediocre bread basket to the table. For starters we had the Basket of Arancini, 3 balls which come with 2 dipping sauces: tomato and capers aioli and basil oil. This was the best dish of the meal – the steaming hot cheesy balls were soft with a crunchy exterior and the capers aioli was fantastic.
The other starter we chose was Caprese salad (+10₪\$3) with organic field tomatoes and fresh buffalo mozzarella. I felt like this dish was a great bang for the buck. It had colorful cherry tomatoes, a nice amount of fresh cheese and was seasoned just right.
From here on the food and experience started declining. First off the waiters were a bit slow to clear the first dishes. I would have been more forgiving if the dirty table from all the bread crumbs was cleaned before putting new tableware, but guess what? no one bothered to clean our table before it was set for the main course.
The main courses were also a disappointment. Our waiter recommended the Pollo Con Focchi, described as bone-dismantled chicken with pasta from Sardinia, pistachio oil, arugula and red onion. This fancy description all amounted to boring spring chicken (“pargit”) with bland egg barley (“ptitim”), which I felt somewhat deceived to receive. To pay 86₪\$24 for this? I also felt ripped off.
The other main course we ordered – Tagliolini al Tartufo (98₪\$27) – wasn’t much better. The truffles, butter and parmesan were faint in taste. What sounded divine on paper was in reality a very dull dish.
No one, at any point of the meal, asked us how we were doing and if we’re enjoying the food. At no point was our table cleaned and we ended up having coffee over a table full of bread crumbs. Grabbing someone’s attention to get the check was mission impossible. The worst is that even though the manager saw us flailing our hands desperately trying to vie for a staffer’s attention, she didn’t bother to send anyone over to our table. She just stared.
What was the cause of this this disappointing food? Great question. It’s not the case of an absent chef – the chef was there when we were dining. What went wrong with the service? We weren’t served by one waiter, so it’s not the case of one waiter having a bad day.
We skipped dessert since all they had to offer was Tiramisu and Semifreddo. At this point, as you might have guessed, we didn’t feel very welcome. We mostly wanted to pay and be out the door.
I wouldn’t mind the expensive price tag, if I felt the meal, the service and the experience, were superb. Actually, I would even settle for just good, but sadly Pronto was neither.