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First Look: Casey's Pizza Truck in San Francisco
Back in May, we caught up with Casey Crynes as he lugged his modified Weber grill around San Francisco to cook up some very solid pizzas. These days, Crynes has upgraded from that little Weber to a 1900-pound oven. Thankfully, he has a set of pretty sweet wheels to tote that thing around—as of late September, Crynes has been operating San Francisco's first mobile pizza truck. Of course, Slice got onto the scene as quickly as possible to check things out.
Crynes had his Casey's Pizza truck built from an old Navy uniform van. The spiffy grey ride houses a Marsal MB 60 oven, similar to the rig you'll find inside Pizzeria Delfina—certainly a pretty good operation to emulate when it comes to pizza. Crynes reports that the oven burns close to 700 degrees, more than hot enough to turn out his target artisanal New York-style pizzas.
When we paid Casey's Pizza a visit for a Monday lunch at Truck Stop, a light rain fell over the three food trucks crammed into a narrow alley off Mission Street in the SOMA. Several slices sat ready-made in the display, but we opted for whole pies, choosing a Margherita and a Funghi. (That day's menu also included a pie with Zoe's pepperoni and another topped with arugula.) It took about ten minutes for Crynes and crew to fill our order, with the Funghi arriving a few minutes earlier than the Margherita, meaning it spent some extra time in the box.
I had very nice things to say about Crynes' crust last time out, but I may like it even better coming out of the new oven (and that's despite a few minutes spent in the box as we looked for a dry place to eat). The end-crust leans crisp, but still with good chew and enough tenderness inside. Most importantly, with a just-right helping of salt, it tastes really good. Except, the Casey's Pizza crew does still seem to be struggling to dial the char-o-meter to the right setting.
The bottom of our Funghi pizza came out nicely spotted with char.
But our Margherita, even though it arrived a bit paler on top, had crossed over into blackened territory underneath.
Thankfully, all that carbon underneath the Margherita didn't prove too distracting, and we thoroughly enjoyed the the toppings. Crynes makes a nice sauce of raw tomatoes, well-balanced between tangy and sweet. He covers this with a quality mixture of fresh and aged mozzarella. Even slightly disheveled after sliding around in its box while we scrambled out of the rain, this Margherita made for a pretty stellar mouthful.
We missed the sauce on our Funghi, but loved the meaty flavor of the mushrooms, which had been cut into hefty quarters. Crynes and crew finish this pie with a scattering of red pepper flakes that gave it just a little bit of burn.
At the current time, all the pies served at the Casey's Pizza truck require you to pull $15 out of your wallet (it's $4 for a slice). With quite a few of Crynes' current pop-up locations situated on the edges of San Francisco's Financial District, I suppose we can let the market decide if that's the right price-point. I'll admit that, during my visit, after braving lousy weather and a search for seating, the price gave me momentary pause.
But on a purely gustatory basis, I really like what Crynes and his crew are turning out at this early stage in their four-wheeled existence. Even with one pie slightly over-charred underneath, it was hard to miss that really enjoyable crust or the spot-on flavor combination on the Margherita. I certainly hope that Crynes gets to put many miles on his new wheels—not to mention his new oven.
About the author: David Kover is a San Francisco-based freelance writer and food enthusiast. He occasionally gets his tweet on at @pizzakover.