Cute and tasty, they’re gourmet restaurants on wheels.
A lot of adjectives can be used to describe the handful of food trucks that have popped up on the North Fork the past several years. They’re delicious and adorable, mobile and convenient.
But perhaps more than anything, we love these trucks because they are just so darn fun.
These aren’t your every day hot dog trucks. With menu items ranging from tacos and pulled pork sandwiches to Hawaiian pizzas and egg sandwiches, the fare is unique and diverse, with each truck carving out its own niche.
You’re sure to see these trucks at your favorite wineries and events this summer. Here’s your chance to learn their stories ahead of time.
Read all about them on the following pages.
This story was originally published in the summer 2014 edition of the northforker Long Island Wine Press.
North Fork Food Truck
A fresh lobster roll, a North Fork-style Berkshire pulled pork roll and chocolate chip cookies whipped up by renowned chef Claudia Fleming are staple dishes offered by the North Fork Food Truck, which started its engine in October.
The eatery on wheels is an extension the North Fork Table & Inn and builds on the success of The Lunch Truck, a stationary food truck located behind the Main Road restaurant.
Launched by Fleming and sous chef Cynthia Halloran, the food truck sources from local meat and poultry farms, vineyards and breweries, incorporating those products into its ever-changing menu.
Whether it’s selling beer-battered fish and chips at Greenport Harbor Brewing Company or breakfast sandwiches featuring fresh eggs from 8 Hands Farm in Cutchogue, the chefs work with the individual qualities of the sites where they set up shop.
Stepping out of the kitchen and onto the truck allows them to get to know their customers, the pair said.
“As a chef, you enjoy cooking for people and making them happy, but rarely in a restaurant do you get to see the reaction on the customers’ faces,” Halloran said. “[Working on the truck] makes it a little more personal. I know many of our regular customers by what they eat.”
This summer you’ll find the truck at 8 Hands Farm for breakfast and lunch every Sunday through June. On Tuesday nights it can be found at Corey Creek Vineyards for Twilight Tuesday happy hour, from 5 to 8 p.m.
Rolling in Dough
Perhaps it’s the fresh ingredients, or the famous thin crust. Maybe it’s the wonder of making a gourmet pizza pie on the spot. Whatever the reason, Rolling in Dough is often cited as the North Fork’s favorite food truck.
Well-known across the twin forks, Rolling in Dough got its start in 2009 when owner Matt Michel launched the roaming business in a vintage International Harvester K-6 pickup retrofitted with a wood-fired brick oven.
“I think people just like something that’s a little bit different,” Michel said. “You can have pizza every day, but where can you get wood-fired pizza off the back of a cherry-red 1943 International Harvester?”
In this self-contained operation, Michel has quick and delicious down to a science, cranking out tailor-made pies within just three minutes of an order. But much more goes into the prep work.
Rolling in Dough uses high-quality ingredients from local sources whenever possible — Michel even grows his own organic tomatoes and herbs for the unforgettable slices. To achieve its uniquely flavorful crust, all the dough is made at least 24 hours ahead of time to allow for a slow rise, pumping up the taste, he said.
Today, Rolling in Dough has many fans across Eastern Long Island and has served pizza to public figures including President Bill Clinton and “The Barefoot Contessa” chef Ina Garten.
The recent recipient of a $250,000 small-business grant from JPMorgan Chase, Michel will soon open a brick-and-mortar pizza place and bar in Greenport’s Stirling Square. But he vows to keep his pizza truck in motion, serving hungry guests at private parties and making regular appearances at local events.
The Roaming Fork
The husband-and-wife team behind the Roaming Fork food truck are culinary opposites. Stephanie Coleman runs a catering business, while her husband doesn’t have nearly as much culinary training.
Often, he’ll experiment with new recipes, ones Stephanie used to be wary of. But she’s learned her lesson: Those recipes — like the French onion grilled cheese — are a hit, she says.
“Everything he does works,” she said. “People love it.”
The Roaming Fork food truck, which hit the road last June, focuses on unique, fun food made with local ingredients. The French onion grilled cheese — made with gruyère cheese and grilled to crispy perfection with a panini press — is a fan favorite, Ms. Coleman said.
The truck’s fried vegetable spring rolls, made with fresh local veggies that change throughout the season, is also popular. The Aquebogue couple set up the food truck after a local vineyard suggested they get into the business.
Now, the truck tours vineyards across the North Fork starting on Memorial Day. This season, you can find it at Raphael on Thursday nights, Lieb Cellars on Fridays and outside Palmer Vineyard in Aquebogue on Saturdays and Sunday.
The Colemans also plan to park their food truck at this year’s Maritime Festival in Greenport, the Love Lane Street Fair in Mattituck and the New Suffolk boat races.
“It’s seriously hard work, but it is a lot of fun,” Ms. Coleman said.
Lucharitos Taco Box
Dishing out the same signature Mexican tapas as its companion Greenport restaurant, Lucharitos Taco Box is a fiesta on wheels.
The only North Fork food truck that regularly serves up authentic nachos, a variety of tacos and other south of the border favorites, the Taco Box has developed a large following since it first hit the streets in September.
Lucharitos owner and chef Marc LaMaina bought the old pop-up trailer from a friend and converted it into a unique rolling restaurant.
“Crank the lever and — pop! — you have tacos and nachos right there,” he said. “We wanted to keep it very rustic looking — like she just came down a side street in Tijuana.”
Of the many tapas the truck offers, LaMaina said its most popular item is the fried Peconic Bay scallop taco.
You can catch the Taco Box at Lieb Cellars in Mattituck every Sunday in June from 1 to 5 p.m.
Eat Me, Drink Me
By day, Michelle Panciarello was an interior designer for Lowe’s and Home Depot. But after work, she’d go home to cook and bake for family and friends.
“It’s the only time I’m happy,” she joked.
One year after quitting her design work and launching the Eat Me, Drink Me food truck, Ms. Panciarello and her best friend, Jessica Conti, now tour across Suffolk County, offering natural burgers, hand-cut fries and artisanal grilled cheese.
“We made it through the winter,” she said. “If you make it through the winter, you’re pretty much golden.”
Eat Me, Drink Me specializes in burgers made with grass-fed beef from Michigan, which can cost upward of $5 per pound. Those got a great response at the Greenport Maritime Festival last year, Ms. Panciarello said.
“That was a blast,” she said. “We had a really good time.” The Eat Me, Drink Me truck will be back for this year’s festival and will also appear at the Sayville Maritime Festival and Edible East End’s Food Truck Roundup in Bridgehampton.
Life on the road in a food truck isn’t always easy, Ms. Panciarello admits. But she and Ms. Conti always get by.
“We’ve been friends for well over 20 years,” she said. “Even when things are hellacious and we’re not making a dime, you’re working with your best friend.”
You can catch the Eat Me, Drink Me food truck at locations across Suffolk County, including Splish Splash and Tanger Outlets in Riverhead and their current “home base” at Great South Bay Brewery .