It was a sunny September morning, and I was headed to Orange CT for a hot date at a golf tournament. No, this was no golf pro - I was meeting up with the cooking team of The Big Green Truck Pizza. For those unfamiliar with this meal on wheels, The Big Green Truck is a stroke of catering brilliance…a vintage truck outfitted with a wood fire brick oven that goes where the party is. Not only do they serve up a meal that pleases every age, but the food prep stays out of your house - no fuss; no muss. And if this is not enough, there is the entertainment factor of watching a team of three construct up to 60 pizzas an hour and toss them into a fiery furnace. Pizza, salad, gelato from Gelateria Giuliana (a local fave)…perfect party pleaser. On the day I visited, they were serving up some of their renown New Haven-style brick oven pizza near hole #5 at the Orange Hills Country Club.
When I arrived at the truck, the tables had already been set up (they fold out from the sides of the truck), and the necessary chimney set in place. I met Christian and Sandra who were uncovering an amazing array of pizza toppings, and stoking the fire to make sure it was up to the requisite 750 degrees. That is some serious heat. I couldn't help marveling at the fact that this type of cooking apparatus could be tucked into a moving vehicle, outfitted with refrigerators, freezers, an espresso machine, and a storage area for the all important wood. This morning, the non-cured wood was not up to par..sort of moist…the fire wasn't coming along as quickly as these pizza purveyors would have liked. The athletes, fresh from the golf course were lining up. The pressure was on…
While we waited for the oven to get nice and toasty (they ask for 1 hour of set-up), Christian gave me a tour of the toppings. Let me tell you there is nothing missing from this line-up. Of course they had all the basics covered, like pepperoni, spinach, mushrooms, roasted red peppers, but then I noticed some more inventive items like breaded eggplant, mashed potatoes, clams, caramelized onion, and artichokes. Hmmm..I know what you are thinking. Mashed potatoes? Yes, one of their specialties is a white pizza with mashed potatoes, bacon, garlic, olive oil, and caramelized onions. It sounds like carb overload, but is actually fabulous. We'll get to the pizza specifics in a minute. Now, back to the crux of it all…the fire.
We are now about one hour into the set-up stage. Wood is being chopped to add to the oven, embers are being moved to the side to make room for lunch, and the oven floor is getting mopped down and cleaned up. We were ready for pizza deliverance. Sandy and Christian have taken a tray out of the fridge and in a flurry of flour had created a pile of ready to top pie dough rounds. Christian started with the classic pie, hands moving fast, flour and cheese everywhere. Into the fire it goes, while Sandy tests the heat of the fire to make sure the the precious pie crust does not get overcooked. They can fit two or three pies in at a time, and with the heat at 750 degrees, this pizza cooks amazingly fast. Three minutes of cook time is all they need to achieve perfect bubbly and crispy crust, heavenly melted cheese and hot toppings.
Now the pies were coming out rapid fire, garlic, mozzarella, Pecorino Romano, and oil-no sauce; sausage and mushroom; broccoli and eggplant; requests were gladly filled. Golf suddenly took a back seat as everybody waited for the next pie to fly out of the oven. They will tell you their product is New Haven-style pizza, with a great thin crust that manages to achieve perfection in both crispiness and chewiness with stupendous mouthfeel. The toppings are fresh, and plentiful, and they sure don't skimp on the garlic. The sauce is simple and delicious. You can enjoy a basic salad lightly sprinkled with Pecorino on the side if you feel the need, but really, why bother when you can eat your salad on the pizza?
If after your 6th slice, you have any room left for dessert, a table is set up with Gelato Giuliana's intensely flavorful frozen gelato. There are about 8 flavors ranging from pistachio to coconut, and these can be chased with an espresso or latte. Yes, this truck also has an espresso machine.
I can't describe what I ate that day without having a massive and debilitating Big Green Truck Pizza craving. The only problem I see with this truck is that you will become addicted to these pies, and here's the rub…The only way to enjoy this heavenly pizza party is to hire them at $1000-1200 (depending on the day of the week) for a group of under 50 guests. You also need a flat backyard or driveway that will hold a 22 x 8 feet truck. I find myself coming up with excuses for a gathering. Block party? Game night? Morale event? Really anything will do.
I left the golf club wondering when I'd ever had a better date? Douglas Coffin, who owns the Big Green Trucks, has 3 trucks for hire and has been doing this type of catering for 6 years. Christian and Sandra have been on the job for 4 years and have gotten this down to an art. They are based out of New Haven, but hey, have truck..will travel. For more information, go to the The Big Green Pizza truck web site that details their pricing.
Big Green Truck Pizza, Douglas Coffin Inc. 530 East Street, New Haven. 203.752.9547