Our weekly bite explores the city's food trucks, one at a time, highlighting our favorite mobile dishes and snacks.
The Truck: Casey's Pizza
The Cuisine: Old New York-style pizza
Specialty Items: Pizza
Worth the Wait in Line? At peak lunch time, a total 10 minutes from the end of the line to food in hand.
There are certain dishes, like pizza and barbecue, that inspire opinions, heated discussions, and classifications to such detail that they almost require their own taxonomic rank.
Having worked at a pizza parlor during the length of my high school years, I certainly have my own ideas of what makes pizza good. There is a natural instinct to want to fill up all the space with excess -- the more is better school of pizza and life -- but it's not just about filling up space that make it taste good. It's about the interplay of the toppings and the negative space between them that makes it taste good. The things that aren't there are as important as the ones that are. It's about proper curation. That's part of what makes Casey's Pizza so good.
While certainly on the pricey side, the Zoe Pepperoni ($17 for a whole pie, $9 for half, tomato, basil, mozzarella, pepperoni, chili flakes) is a model of the less-baked old New York style of pizza that you find in the classic spots back east like DiFara, Lombardi's, and Grimaldis. Everything is there for a reason and in the right proportions. There's enough cheese to give it that butter fat richness, but not so much that it dominates; the tang of tomato sauce brightness the pie and cuts the richness; and the whole thing is bejeweled with a scattering of crisp discs of Zoe's pepperoni which infuse it with spice and a meaty personality. The pepperoni is made in Petaluma at Zoe's Meats and is a unique blend of 90% pork and 10% beef.
The other pies are great too, like the margarita and arugula we sampled the last time we stopped by. The arugula comes without tomato sauce, dressed instead with a squirt of lemon juice to liven it up, and crowned with a tangle of wild arugula. The margarita is a study on the beauty of simplicity, but also one that really showcases what makes the pies so tasty: the crust
A great combination of both crispy and chewy, the foundation that lets all of owner Casey Crynes' pizzas stand out. "Our crust is really about three things: great flour, process, and time," explained Crynes. By proofing the dough slowly over several days in refrigeration, he's able to break down some of the gluten and develop flavors over time that simply can't be accomplished with faster fermentation. "When fully proofed and ready for use it's both strong and supple and ready for what we call 'a strong bake,'" says Crynes. A "strong bake" is fast and hot in the trucks firebrick hearth oven.
When asked if he missed the old days when he was working on a tricked out Weber barbecue pit instead of the truck, Crynes acknowledged he does, and perhaps we might see a street legal version of that yet. "I miss it, my whole business back then was a total family operation, my twin brothers working the oven and taking orders with me, it was from the heart. Someday I hope to launch a street legal pizza cart that employs a similar setup, or, a pizza bike. But a brick and mortar would be nice someday too."