Monday, September 26, 2011

Casey's Pizza Truck - Soft Launch

The last time I met Casey Crynes was back in July, and he was cooking up pizza on his famous black Weber grill. It was a Wednesday night, and the Haight Street Farmer's Market was in full swing. Casey and crew chatted with me while they served hungry customer after customer their New York-style pie. Back then he was well on his way to building his very own pizza truck, San Francisco's first. Crynes' planned August launch was delayed, but now he is finally up and running, with the Casey's Pizza truck soft launch debut slated for Monday at the Lunch Box in South Park.

As a big fan of East Coast pizza, I have been hooked on Casey's since the first time I tried it. Most East Coast transplants that I know have all been on the proverbial quest to find a pizza that is comparable to the ones back home. Crynes does more that just hit the mark with his crispy, chewy crust—he well exceeds it! Every time I try it, I am transported back to memories of Boston's North End, where I spent many a day savoring pie from my most favorite pizza place in the world, Pizzeria Regina.

Having only ever tried Casey's Pizza from the deck of his Weber grill, I was curious to see how it fared when cooked in the truck's 700-degree Marshal oven, which is the same oven in use at Pizzeria Delfina. In anticipation of his soft launch today, Crynes invited a small group of people to a secret test run on Sunday in the Dogpatch. I enjoy his pizza so much that the family and I even skipped the free Goo Goo Dolls show in Golden Gate Park to check out his new digs and sample up what he had to offer. I knew that it would at least be as good as the Weber grilled pizza, but it was, in fact, better.

Casey's Pizza truck, a converted Navy uniform van, was outfitted by El Monte Catering of San Jose, who also worked on Liba Falafel's new truck. The truck began it's rebirth on June 15th and took just over three months to complete. Crynes said that the biggest obstacle were dealing with the build out in San Jose while working in San Francisco and also building a truck from scratch. Since El Monte had never had done a pizza truck before, it took a bit to get the venting correct. That was partially solved by raising the entire roof about 10 inches. The end result is a matte gray, minimalistic truck with just a simple logo (no Twitter or Facebook addresses) advertising what Casey does best: Old World Craft Pies.

Crynes had four pizzas on the tasting menu Sunday for his small group of invitees. He cooked up a Margherita, a Funghi, Arugula and a Pepperoni that he calls the Zoe, named for the local charcuterie where he gets his meats. We started off sampling the arugula, as it was the first pie out of the oven, and his crew gave all of us in line a slice. I knew right then and there that the oven-cooked pie was better than one off the grill, and my one sample slice wasn't enough! Luckily we didn't have to wait too long to get our order.

We started with a half Margherita, half Zoe, and even between the three of us that pizza was gone before I could even look up. The pepperoni was perfectly cooked, with slightly charred, extra crispy edges. The pepperoni imparted a smoky flavor on its half, and the crust that was great from the grill was even better out of the oven. The Margherita was cheesy and delicious, and the tomato sauce fresh and flavorful. Since one wasn't enough and because I was in the mood to try more, we ordered a second pie that was half Funghi, half Margherita. The Funghi is chock full of mushroom, without tomato sauce and with a hefty sprinkling of red pepper and thyme to make it spicy and delicious. They pizzas are a pretty decent size, about 12 inches, but can easily be noshed by one person alone.

Casey's Pizza will make its first public appearance Monday, September 26 at the Lunch Box at 248 Ritch Street from 11:30 - 2pm. Other locations including Off the Grid will follow shortly, as well as Casey's regular spot Wednesdays from 4:00 - 8:00pm at the Farmers' Market at Stanyan and Waller. Check the Casey's Pizza website and Twitter for updates.

Casey's Pizza (@caseyspizza)

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