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By Norb Garrett
On April 21, 27-year-old chef and owner Adriano Piazza opened the doors of his new eatery, Pronto Italian Deli, in Downtown San Clemente after more than two years of planning and preparation.
For Adriano, a Sicilian-born, classically trained chef who earned the Degree of Doctor in Gastronomic Sciences from the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Pollenzo, Italy, in 2016, it’s the beginning of his dream to be a restaurateur.
And while Pronto Italian Deli is, indeed, brand new, the seeds for Adriano’s dream date back to the early 1980s, when his grandfather, Vincenzo, bought the property on Avenida Del Mar as a gift to his grandchildren, who weren’t even born yet.
“My father fell in love with this town because of its small-town feel,” said Adriano’s mother, Donatella, who immigrated with her parents in 1977 and landed in Claremont, California, where she had earned a university scholarship. “We used to drive down on weekends, and he bought this building because he wanted to leave a legacy for his grandchildren.”
Most recently, the building was leased to Tina & Vince’s, a popular Italian deli. The timing of their lease expiring coincided with the conclusion of Adriano’s schooling at the Institution of Culinary Education in Pasadena. So, presto, the culmination of two dreams in one—Adriano’s and his grandfather Vincenzo’s.
“Everything here is fresh, from the meats to the cheeses, and all of our dishes are homemade from scratch,” said Adriano.
His father, Franco, orders all of the meats and cheeses from Italy (95% is Italian), while his mom makes her famous Tiramisu fresh daily. Adriano’s older sister, Fiammetta, an attorney by trade, can also be seen helping out on weekends.
Adriano said that aside from deli sandwiches and salads, Pronto also makes thin-crust pizza with flour from Naples, lasagna alla Bolognese following an old family recipe using a unique mix of spices, and meatballs to honor Italian-American cuisine.
A full-range of vegetarian and vegan dishes are available, as are Italian beers and wines and a range of soft drinks.
Opening during the pandemic has created some challenges, but Adriano says business has been booming since they opened.
“All of our dishes, meats and cheeses are available for takeout, and we’re soon going to be opening a patio out front in time for the summer,” said Adriano.
Currently, Pronto is open Wednesday through Sunday, from 10:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., with daily specials posted on Instagram @prontoitaliandeli, as well as its website prontoitaliandeli.com.
“This really is a family business,” said Adriano, with a youthful exuberance reflective of his years. “We will strive to make this a great deli.”
Pronto Italian Deli is located at 221 Avenida Del Mar, #B, San Clemente. The shop can be reached at 949.503.3049.