Tastemaking: Hot Wheels
BOSTON, ARGUABLY, CAN BE a too-tolerant food city. We put up with a perennially late patio season and rarely complain about our short-lived summer vegetable crop. And yet when we see other cities adopting a culinary trend before us, we want in now. Take food trucks. Thanks to the urging of a few motivated city councilors (inspired by L.A. and New York), Mayor Menino created a streamlined application process — which means trucks will be rolling into town this month.
For now, they’ll be allowed to drive into certain pedestrian-heavy parts of the city (by the Children’s Museum and along the Greenway, for example) and more-underserved parts of town, such as Cassidy Park at Cleveland Circle. That’s where twentysomething brothers James and Michael DiSabatino of Roxy’s Grilled Cheese Truck can be found serving up their addictive wild-mushroom-confit-and-Swiss sandwich.
What’s so great about food trucks? For one thing, they’re where you’ll find a new and ever-changing lineup of gustatory goodies. Staff Meal, a highly anticipated collaboration between former Rialto chefs Patrick Gilmartin and Adam Gendreau, is using its vehicle as an experimental kitchen: The truck will offer specialties like oxtail or headcheese sandwiches and marrow toasts with tabbouleh. (“When we worked in kitchens, our food never even remotely resembled street food,” says Gilmartin.) Sam Jackson, owner of KO Catering and Pies, says his ride will actually be better outfitted than his South Boston storefront. Jackson’s truck features a char grill, while his kitchen has only a flat-top griddle — meaning when the truck sets up near Moakley Field this summer, you’ll find “spicy shrimp on the barbie” and grilled fish sandwiches alongside chicken-schnitzel burgers.
For One World Cuisine (the restaurant group behind Diva Lounge and Café of India), the Dosa Mobile, one of Boston’s only trucks with solar panels, will serve as an incubator for fresh ideas. “We’re testing a new organic menu for our restaurant, Mela,” says Sam Sokol, director of marketing. “The truck will be the perfect platform to try those dishes out.”
As for what’s next, Todd Saunders and Ron Sarni of Food Truck Nation (a leasing company that’s helping Garden at the Cellar chef Will Gilson get Eat, his grass-fed-beef-truck concept, off the ground) tell us they’re working with several “big-name local chefs” who will be launching more mobile test kitchens this summer. Sarni says we can expect a couple of “upscale taco” trucks, as well as more Asian offerings. He also suggests the future holds a new trend in sweets. “Think cupcakes on a stick,” he says. Gentlemen, start your engines.