When it comes to food in Queanbeyan, most people think of good pub grub, and it’s true, there are some great pubs dishing up Australia’s best pub-style food in a town that’s quickly expanding and transforming.
But Queanbeyan has a growing number of great and diverse restaurants, including its newest addition – a little slice of Italy known as Pronto.
Opening on 8 July, the team at Pronto has had little time to catch their breath as happy diners have been filling the fully booked family-friendly restaurant to taste what they have on offer. When I think of Italy, I think of family, warmth and food – lots and lots of food, and that’s exactly what you will find at Pronto.
“It’s a very inviting and very homely fit-out,” said co-owner Josh Kosteski.
“We want people to feel comfortable, and they can expect a welcoming family environment with old school hospitality.”
Josh, his mum Val, brother Jon and their business partner Alan are also responsible for the popular Manuka restaurant, Trecento. The team has been running the restaurant in Manuka for four years, but Josh’s wife Melinda has joined them this time.
Melinda has been working in the public service for 10 years and took the plunge to leave the security of her 9-to-5 to be involved in the business, giving her a chance to spend more time reconnecting with her Italian heritage while running her own business.
“Melinda has an eye for interior design, so when she got involved, the restaurant went from originally being a takeaway and soon transformed to a deli and then a restaurant.
“She’s now the boss lady at Pronto and she tells me what to do,” said Josh.
The Kosteski family have always been based in Queanbeyan. Josh grew up there and played football for local teams. Jon and Josh travelled to Italy several years ago with plans to open a restaurant in their hometown when they returned, but the space they were originally looking at was no longer available.
But Josh reconnected with an old friend during the COVID-19 lockdown and restrictions. His friend’s family owns a 1930s partly heritage-listed building and one thing led to another – the building is now home to Pronto.
You’ll find Trecento’s much-loved Neapolitan-style pizza using a 300-year-old Italian recipe at Pronto, but you can also choose from a selection of small plates designed to share so you can create your own antipasto to replicate Melinda’s Nonna’s dining table.
Josh and Melinda often visit Melinda’s Nonna, who always fills the table with plates of her delicious homemade food for everyone to share. They wanted to create an experience similar to how they eat with their own family.
The menu features plates of cured meats, hot dishes, raw plates, cheeses, vegetables, breads and salads. Josh recommends the polpette di melanzane (eggplant meatballs), and you can also choose from a range of pasta dishes. If you can’t decide, you can order the antipasti di pronto or the chef feed me menu where the choices will be made for you.
Like its sister restaurant, Trecento, Pronto really is a family business. Josh’s mother-in-law makes all the cannoli, tiramisu, pickled tomatoes and a few other products, and you’ll find a small dry store of regional and Italian artisanal products and a deli fridge for smallgoods.
Pronto is also open from breakfast, serving up dishes like ricotta hotcakes with caramelised banana and honeycomb, and a king prawn croissant.
At this stage, takeaway is available by request and delivery options are coming soon. Until then, the team is focussing on delivering the best in-house dining experience. Some vegetarian and gluten-free dishes are featured on the menu but most dietary requirements can be catered for on request.
Josh tells me he has more plans for the area surrounding Pronto, but he can’t reveal any details yet, so watch this space.
Pronto is located at 11 Monaro St, Queanbeyan and is open from Wednesday to Sunday from 7:30 am to 11:30 am for breakfast, from 12:00 noon to 2:30 pm for lunch, and from 5:30 pm for dinner. Follow them on Facebook.