In celebration of Eater Houston's Pizza week, we sent a representative to "the inside." That is, the inside of Houston's only pizza food truck.
Here's the running diary of Eater Houston contributor, Rachel Brill's stay aboard the Pi Pizza Truck.
9:10 PM - Arrive at Jackson's Watering Hole, where they're parked for the night.
9:11 PM - Politely ask the cute girl sitting at the window for Anthony. She twists around and a tall, preoccupied man gives her the OK to let me "come on board."
9:12 PM - Things are extremely hectic; dough is spinning and toppings are flying. I quietly sit down out of the way, in front of the refrigerator that is situated on a small base. Anthony (whose business card describes him as "owner, operator, raconteur, and pizza ninja") articulates the situation in pizza-talk, "The oven is pretty real right now."
9:15 PM - Begin taking notes to convey that I am there for a very specific and important purpose. However, my main objective is to stare at and analyze the pizza-making storm.
9:30 PM - In-between taking orders, I start to chat with Hannah. First impressions reveal that she is a friendly girl, but she must be a badass if she's able to spend all of her weekend-nights working with three guys (in rather small quarters). Mid-conversation, Hannah alerts everyone that she "got sauced." I quickly figure out this means that she inadvertently spilled on her skirt.
9:40 PM - Observe a fair amount of food truck stickers on the side of the metal prep station. Ask Hannah about the stickers, but more specifically about Pi Pizza Truck's relationship with other Houston trucks. She explains that the food-truck community is surprisingly nurturing, and there is hardly any competition among them. In fact, the owners of the different trucks often get together and share "the good, the bad, and the ugly."
9:59 PM - Things begin to calm down, and I start to talk to Andy (the sous chef). We discuss his favorite pizza, and how his past led him to the Pi Pizza Truck. Andy explains that he worked with Anthony at Late Night Pie ("before things got crazy"), and how Anthony always talked about opening his own restaurant in the future. A few years later, and a few pizza gigs after Late Night Pie, Andy got the call from Anthony that it was a go and Andy has been truckin' it ever since.
10:10 PM - Apparently Andy has warmed up to me since our heart-to-heart because he offers me handful of "panty dropper toppings." The delicately placed pile included grilled radicchio and fennel, apples, and shallots. After indulging in the amuse bouche, my taste buds were alive and I was intrigued.
10:15 PM - Orders keep coming in at a steady pace. Thursdays nights appear to be mostly regulars with a side of bar-goers.
10:24 PM - Due to Anthony's intense focus on the oven (rightfully so as he has a reputation to uphold), I have not really gotten to talk to him much. Maybe he felt bad for neglecting me (or maybe he saw me drooling), but without saying much he walks over and hands me a slice of the panty dropper pizza and a breadstick. He tells me he's looking forward to hearing my opinions on the breadsticks that are "brushed with foie gras fat, sprinkled with smoked sea salt, and served with a side of homemade black currant and fig sauce."
10:40 PM - After Anthony catches up on the outstanding tickets, he offers to show me around the truck. Noticeably intrigued by all of the unique toppings at the prep station, Anthony offers me a pear that has been "poached in riesling and vanilla bean" (one of "The Socialite's" ingredients). He explains that each week he and Andy cook and prepare all of the ingredients from scratch with the greatest of care. I learn that menu rotates every week to maintain focus and high quality.
10:50 PM - Inquire about the oven and learn that the perfect pizza is cooked at 685-degrees for approximately eight to eleven minutes (depending on how many times the oven is opened). When the oven is operating at "optimum pace" it holds four whole pizzas and a few singles.
10:55 PM - Converse about life on the food truck. He explains that two days per week are spent prepping in the kitchen. The truck is open Thursday through Sunday nights and sometimes caters events* during the day. The truck window is open until 2:00 am, but offers delivery until 3:30am (unless they run out of food first). On nights where the truck is open they often don't go to sleep before 5:00 am. Despite my astonished look, he assured me that he "wouldn't have it any other way."
11:10 PM - As my brief shift on the Pi Pizza Truck came to a close I have to admit I was humbled by the camaraderie, openness, and the four twenty pizza.
*Don't forget to check out the Pi Pizza Truck at this weekend's Haute Wheels food truck festival.