Jon Darsky spent years in San Francisco restaurants baking Neapolitan-style pizzas—thin crusts topped with fresh salted tomatoes and milky fior di latte mozzarella—in old-school specialty wood-fired ovens. In 2010 he began looking around for a place of his own but couldn't find the right piece of real estate. After a trip to Austin, Texas, a hotbed of mobile street vendors, he scrapped the idea of a brick-and-mortar pizzeria and decided to put his oven on wheels.
Two years later, his new business is finally ready to roll. It isn't the average food truck stuffed inside an old step van, and not just because there's smoke (intentionally) pouring out of the rooftop. Darsky's creation is a full-on mobile pizzeria. Customers place their orders with a waiter and then watch through the truck's glass-plated passenger side as Darsky and a prep cook make pizzas over a giant fire in the 5,000-pound brick oven.
Darsky had a lot more experience making pizzas than he did making the equipment needed to cook them, so building an open kitchen in a truck wasn't easy. He started out with a brand-new handmade Italian oven and sketched out an initial design for the truck with CAD software. He then worked with a team of engineers and fabricators to refine the design, putting the oven inside a used 20-foot shipping container and mounting it on a Freightliner M2 106 bobtail truck frame.
He also had to come up with a way to dampen vibrations from driving that could crack the oven's silicon dioxide and aluminum oxide bricks. At first he wanted to float the oven and its 1,500-pound steel pedestal on an airbag cushion, but that would have been too high to fit inside the container. Now the entire container sits on a self-leveling air suspension system that looks like a stack of inflatable golf-cart tires.
Unlike most food trucks, which cook on propane, Darsky's oven burns almond and oak logs, at a sweltering 800ºF. "Part of cooking this kind of pizza is about building a really big flame," Darsky says. "It would be great to go from place to place with a raging fire. But that would be stupid and unsafe." Instead he lights the oven when he gets to his destination. Fortunately, the oven walls' 4.3 inches of fireproof brick retain heat for days, so Darsky can preheat the oven before he leaves. Then he extinguishes the flame, closes the oven up safely, and heads out on the road.
See how Darsky's pizza truck works on the next page.
In the July 2012 issue, the article states that, "...John Darsky shares his pizza recipe at 'popsci.com/pizzatruck'. That URL appears to be a bust. Is the recipe available anywhere?
I like trucks of all kinds. I see this abomination of a truck and I feel sad. .... really sad.
Every day is a new day!
This truck - in the town where I live - would CLEAN HOUSE. Drive in - make pizza - leave for the evening. The pizza out here stinks and...yeah, please distribute these things.
This pizza truck concept is fantastic...I've had this business idea in my head for over 2 years now...I can't believe that it has taken someone this long, to finally come forward with this, now after all the cupcake and lunch trucks on the road...look at night how many pizza delivery vehicles from Domino's, Pizza Hut, etc. drive up down your streets...this is bringing the pizzeria right into the neighborhoods, brilliant!
How often does a body have to check the brakes and suspension on this Pizza-naut lorry? I wouldn't take it in San Francisco up and down those hills, but I would love to grab that pizza in person!
A nice piece of work but we've had a fire-engine pizzeria in Tucson for at least the last two or three years. It's operated by Vero Amore and makes very good pizza indeed. All wood-fire baked, the pizzas delivered by the Vero Amore emergency response vehicle -- a real big fire engine, with an oven where a pump ought to be -- set the standard for food trucks. See
for more details.
How does anyone get the finances for stuff like this? Hey, can I get a quarter million dollar loan to build a custom food truck?
@Robot- Yknow whats better than trucks? pizza
Trucks, pizza, donuts, peanut butter and jelly, fishing, dogs, science fiction and science fiction gadgets and gizmos, internet, spelunking or cliff climbing, rain on tin roofs and sleeping in & waking up to the smell of hot coffee, eggs, bacon and toast, HOT apple pie and COLD ice cream, tools of any kind, camping and hotdogs or hamburgers over a camp fire, sports and yes (sex always). The order of these things is a constant variable. ;)
See life in all its beautiful colors, and
from different perspectives too!
This seems pretty awesome! I hope it pays off for him, I'd love to be able to get some pizza from here! Mobile construction is the future?
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Have a wonderful 4th of July!
That is so cool how the suspension system works!
This is pretty sweeeeet! I'm getting started on building my own little catering company which offers gourmet pizza baked outdoors in both <a href="http://www.outdoorpizzaovens.com/">wood and gas power outdoor ovens</a>. So, for me this is very exciting to see. Wow.