As Long Island’s pizza culture rises to new heights, it has also become untethered to brick-and-mortar pizzerias. All over Nassau and Suffolk, pizzaioli are slinging pies from trucks equipped with wood-burning ovens, or even free-standing ovens mounted on towable trailers.
Most of LI’s mobile pizza units specialize in private events — and there’s no better way to get a party started than to have a pizza truck parked in your driveway — but a few of them have regular gigs in public spaces where there’s advance planning or deposit required.
Mobility was not what Anthony Sorice was looking for when he established his pizza truck. The co-owner of the year-old Root + Branch brewery in Copiague was seeking a food option that would encourage people to stay longer and order more beer. After a few hired trucks failed to show, Sorice turned to his father, Frank, a former pizzaiolo who was now making wood-fired pies in his Wantagh backyard. His brother, Chris, came on board and, in February, the Sorice men backed their 20-by-8-foot behind the brewery and Nico’s Pizza, named for a beloved family dog, began to cook. The pies aren’t the only draw here: Root + Branch has a skylit tasting room with an outdoor patio (and really good beer).
ON THE MENU Nico’s pies are squarely in the Neo-Neapolitan tradition, thin-crusted and crisp like a New York pie, but using better ingredients and a longer-fermented, higher-hydration dough. The mozzarella here is the classic American low-moisture (Anthony, a marketing genius, describes it as “aged”) which lends these pies an appealing tight chew. But there’s no mozzarella on the “Red,” which doubles down on Bianco DiNapoli tomatoes (the cult brand founded by pizza guru Chris Bianco and California produce mogul Rob DiNapoli). Frank insists on buying sausage only from Dominick's S & D in the Bronx and pepperoni from Ezzo Sausage Company, the pride of Columbus, Ohio. Sicilian oregano, Grana Padano, Pecorino Romano and Mike’s Hot Honey are also in regular rotation. The Pera (Turkish-style Golden Lager) and Grammatical Fiction (Multi-oat/wheat IPA) “are good fits for the pizza.” Pies range from $22 to $25.
WHERE TO FIND IT Nico’s Pizza is usually at Root + Branch (360 Marconi Blvd., Copiague) from 1-7 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, noon-5 p.m. Sunday.
JOSIE’S PIZZA BAR
Josephine Giglio started working in pizzerias while still in high school. The 110-pound chef says she sometimes wishes she could easily heft a 100-pound sack of flour. But she’s found her sweet spot in this truck which, despite being mobile, stays put in the newly redeveloped Garvies Point district of Glen Cove. Customers can dine in the landscaped picnic area adjacent to the truck, of walk across the street to the walkway that runs along Glen Cove Creek.
ON THE MENU Giglio’s “Marg-A-Rita” is a deceptively simple creation, but the interplay of cooked and fresh basil, the light sprinkling of freshly grated Parmesan under the sauce (Josie uses Nina San Marzano tomatoes), the fresh mozzarella (from Brooklyn’s Lioni Latticini) and the light-but-sturdy crust come together beautifully. That pie, “The Boozy” (similar, but with vodka sauce) and “The Little Piggy” (with tiny Battistoni “cup & char” pepperoni) are always available, and more whimsical pies cycle in and out: “The Girl Next Door” features sauteed broccoli and onions, mozzarella and basil; “Mama Knows Pesto” is made with almond-basil pesto, mozzarella, stracciatella and basil; the “Isabella” (named for pizzaiola-in-training Isabelle Perna) is topped with garlic, mortadella, stracciatella and basil. Pies range from $15 to $22. There are also panini, calzones and salads.
WHERE TO FIND IT Josie’s Pizza Bar is parked at 1 Garvies Point Rd., Glen Cove, Wednesday to Sunday from noon to 10 p.m., often until midnight Thursday to Saturday. The menu is posted at josiespizzabar.com.
Born and raised in Sicily, Girolamo “Mommo” Maniscalchi had no particular interest in pizza until he moved to New York as a young man and began working in Italian restaurants. Eventually he landed a job with Grande Cheese Company, a pizzeria supplier. During the pandemic, he said he “started to make bread like everyone else” and that soon morphed into pizza. He found a used wood-burning oven for sale and after practicing at home for a few months, he loaded it onto a trailer that he could hitch to his VW Tiguan. Now, on most weekends, he ignites the wood at home in East Norwich and then drives (carefully) to the day’s destination while the logs burn down and bring the oven up to temperature.
ON THE MENU Maniscalchi is a master of cheese and can expound on the finer points of mozzarella — fresh, aged, domestic, imported, cow, buffalo. For most of his pies (Margherita, pepperoni, pesto, mushroom with truffle oil) he uses two types of fresh mozzarella for that perfect balance of soft blobs and stretchy pulls. Then there’s the “Burrata,” which, more accurately, is topped with blobs of stracciatella — the filling inside a ball of burrata, made from leftover mozzarella shreds and cream. The dough is the product of a slow, cool fermentation and results in an airy-crunchy-toothsome crust. Pies range from $15 to $20. The Peddler also peddles chicken wings roasted in the wood-fired oven and finished with Mike’s Hot Honey.
WHERE TO FIND IT Pizza Peddler pops up regularly at Six Harbors Brewery (243 New York Ave., Huntington). The schedule is posted on Instagram at @thepizza_peddler or call 516-477-9867.
VINCENT'S NEW YORK WOOD-FIRED PIZZA
As pandemic regulations descended on Long Island in 2020, Vincent DeMarzo found himself with a worst-case-restaurant scenario: his health-food cafe was located inside a gym that was closed for months. And so, the former pizza maker returned to his first love and "pulled the trigger" on a long-deferred dream of owning a pizza truck. In August, he parked it in a lay-by along Route 347 in East Setauket and pretty soon he was so busy, he had to draft his wife, Andrea DeMarzo, a marine biologist, to join him. In November, he moved to the big, well-lit parking lot of the gym on Mark Tree Road where his juice bar was — he was able to use the kitchen for prep and storage — and settled in. Nearly three years later, Vincent’s popularity has spawned a second truck that caters events so that the original fire-engine-red one can reside semi-permanently on Mark Tree Road.
ON THE MENU An old-school New York pizza guy, DeMarzo perfected a wetter, pre-fermented dough that would work with his Naples-style wood-fired oven. But his toppings push pizza into new territory, from the exuberant "Brooklyn" (crumbled sausage, broccoli rabe, hot cherry peppers, fresh mozzarella and red sauce), the out-there "Suffolk" (blue cheese, Buffalo-chicken bites and mozzarella), the even-further-out-there Nassau (chicken bites tossed in homemade barbecue sauce topped with melted Cheddar and Jack cheeses and pickled red onions) and the only-on-Long Island "L.I.B.E.C.," that’s right, a bacon, egg and cheese pizza with, wait for it, an everything-bagel crust. Pies range from $15 to $20. There’s also pasta e fagioli and Caesar salad.
WHERE TO FIND IT Vincent’s can usually be found at 384 Mark Tree Rd., East Setauket and in other Suffolk locations. The schedule is posted on Instagram @Vincents_nywf_pizza.
HIRE A PIZZA TRUCK
These trucks are principally for-hire, but most do the occasional public event. Check their social media accounts for schedules.
Brockenzo Neapolitan Pizza
Marciano's Pizza Truck
Instagram and Facebook: @marcianospizzatruck
Pies on Wheels