When the temperatures get warmer, Il Pizzaiolo‘s mobile brick oven will join the dozens of food trucks delivering its wares to hungry customers around the city.
Kevin Konn is the pizzaiolo (pizza man) at the restaurant’s Market Square location, which is known for its wine bar, sumptuous pasta dishes and Neapolitan style pizza. He says they tested out the mobile oven for a few weeks last year in Lawrenceville and found it to be a big hit.
“I worked in Seattle in 2006 for a place that had a mobile pizza oven, and I always wanted to try it here,” Konn says. “I sort of buried the idea, but the restaurant’s doing good now, so we decided to try it and have a little fun.”
It’s larger than most other food trucks since it has a brick oven attached, which reaches temperatures of 1,000 degrees. That’s crucial to giving the pizza its signature Il Pizzaiolo taste.
Il Pizzaiolo’s foray into the mobile food marketplace happens as the city of Pittsburgh has updated its ordinance to allow longer parking times for food trucks in the city. Any vendor with a mobile peddler’s license that has passed Allegheny County Health Department inspection can now park up to four hours in a metered spot in the city, between 7 a.m. and midnight. The fee for a license was increased to $1,200 a year.
During his campaign for mayor, then-city Councilman Bill Peduto listed making Pittsburgh a “food truck friendly city” as one of his top initiatives for his first 100 days in office. Councilman Dan Gilman shepherded the legislation through council, which finally approved the updates in a 7-2 vote on Dec. 15.
“Food trucks are a big part of the culture of American cities,” Gilman said at a public hearing for the legislation just before the final vote. “And a city’s government shouldn’t be standing in the way of progress.”
So far, no new food truck permits have been issued in the city. “There have been lots of inquiries, but no new applications,” says Julie Reiland of the Department of Permits, Licenses and Inspections.
But for Konn and Il Pizzaiolo, the expansion of the parking time limit from 30 minutes to four hours is a welcome change. “It takes a while to get the oven hot enough,” he says. “Once we get going, the execution’s not a problem. We know how to make pizzas.”