Ice cream trucks have plied American neighborhoods for generations, and mobile-food concepts peddling quick eats like tacos and sandwiches have rapidly increased in number thanks to an ever-more mobile population, but food truck options for gourmets have been limited at best. That is, until now. Led by San Francisco’s Del Popolo Mobile Pizzeria, a new cadre of food-truck entrepreneurs is diving headlong into the gourmet pizza business and enriching the culinary landscape of the cities in which they operate.
How Do They Do It?
How can it be that pizza trucks are able to make money serving a food product that takes 10 or more minutes to cook in a cramped space with little room for a commercial-sized oven? Del Popolo cleared this logistical hurdle by perfecting a little-used Neapolitan recipe using a wood-fired oven that tops out at over 800 degrees Fahrenheit. Its pizza are thin-crusted and topped with fresh ingredients, taking only a minute or two to cook in the furnace.
A Perfect Blend
Even with just one or two people on staff in the “kitchen,” Del Popolo can crank out dozens of pizzas per hour. The result is a perfect compromise between the deliciousness of innovative homestyle pizza and the convenience of a fast-food outlet. In fact, simple physics necessitates a longer wait at most other types of food trucks: It’s hard to churn out a burrito or gourmet sandwich in just one minute.
Quite an Expense
Of course, most great ideas have a downside. In Del Popolo’s case, it’s the business’s relatively high overhead. The truck’s owner spent nearly $200,000 converting it from a regular old bulk delivery truck into a glass-enclosed incubator of awesomeness. The glass keeps expenses related to heat dispersion and ventilation lower than they’d otherwise be, but cooling is still a major issue in a space nearly half-filled by an 800-degree oven. Although its efficient semi-circle design limits the amount of fuel that the oven gobbles each day, the cost of wood quickly piles up even in forested northern California.
Taste the Difference
Like many other up-and-coming food trucks, Del Popolo uses only the freshest ingredients, most of them sourced from family farms in the San Francisco area. They keep their menu small, offering just three types of pizza at a time, but the results are so delicious that you won’t complain. Fresh mozzarella, garlic and olive oil are central ingredients, with a rotating meat option featuring locally-sourced sausages and salamis to keep carnivores engaged.
Somehow, the new pizza truck craze is able to marry the convenience of fast service with the unexpectedness of ultra-mobility. Del Popolo has a healthy Twitter following and sends out regular updates regarding its daily schedule, but just as often it can be found plying the streets in outlying neighborhoods or parked on a random high-visibility corner. As their numbers grow, you may be lucky enough one day to find a pizza truck parked in your own driveway!
The food truck craze is setting the culinary world on fire. Nothing encapsulates the trend more than fast-service wood-fired pizza trucks like Del Popolo. If you live in a bigger city, chances are good that there’s already a pizza truck waiting to bring delicious and convenient comfort food to your doorstep.
About the Author
Gina Sills writes for pizzadelivery.org, a site she loves to recommend for finding the best pizza delivery options in your city.