Get it while it’s hot: Charlottesville’s food truck scene is riding a wave this summer

Blue Ridge Pizza Co. Photo: Rammelkamp Foto Blue Ridge Pizza Co. Photo: Rammelkamp Foto

What’s better than sitting outside on a 90-degree day and licking your greasy, sweaty fingers as the sauce from your handheld meal spills out of its wrapper?

Nothing. Damn right.

Summer’s the perfect time to get out and enjoy all that the growing Charlottesville food truck scene has to offer. Consult this list early and often, and keep licking those fingers.

Blue Ridge Pizza Co.

It’s hard to miss the Blue Ridge Pizza truck and trailer rolling around town, what with the giant wood burning ovens and all. But for those not in the know, Chris Bullard’s traveling pizza brigade offers what he calls a Neapolitan-American hybrid style of ’za. The pies are quick fired in two to two and a half minutes at over 1,000 degrees, à la the classic style born in Naples, but Blue Ridge doesn’t adhere to the strictures of the Neapolitan rules. Bullard and his team make their dough to their own specs and cook it to crispy, all the while piling on an American excess of toppings like olive oil, grapes, blue cheese and rosemary, or the current seasonal favorite, strawberries, local spinach, feta, mozzarella and a balsamic reduction.

Bullard says the combination of a truck and trailer allows Blue Ridge to go just about anywhere, but the team focuses on festivals, catering and private parties.

“Charlottesville is an interesting place in that it doesn’t necessarily have a large enough area downtown to support a classic food truck scene,” Bullard says. “So you need to be way more creative about what you do, where you go and how you set up.” Oh please. For good pizza we’ll go anywhere.

Photo: Rammelkamp Foto

Morsel Compass Mobile Kitchen

Hockey and tacos. They go hand in hand like…wait. What? Jennifer Blanchard met her business partner Keely Hass while playing hockey together in Crozet, and since they’ve launched their food truck, they’ve kept it in the hockey family, with the majority of the staff coming from the ice. Now here comes the hip-check to the boards: These Hockey moms serve up gourmet, international-inspired tacos.

“We are kind of a weird taco truck. The closest thing we have to normal is carne asada,” Blanchard says. For the abnormal, she and Hass offer up chimichurri-marinated chicken, Baja beer-battered cod and Jamaican jerk chicken. Blanchard says she and Hass pride themselves on marinating and seasoning everything in-house and keeping as much product fresh-never-frozen as possible. The truck makes it to Charlottesville regularly for Fridays After Five and a few other events, but for the most part, it’s “all about Crozet,” according to Blanchard.

Smoked BBQ. Photo by Rammelkamp Foto
Photo: Rammelkamp Foto

`Smoked BBQ Co.

Barbecue is the classic truck/trailer food, and these boys are doing it right. Justin van der Linde and his sous chef Kent Morris launched a catering company several years ago and quickly “saw the writing on the wall,” according to van der Linde. That writing says: These food trucks are the next big thing. So van der Linde procured himself a trailer and went about locking down the mobile lunch-seeking crowd on the Downtown Mall. The cart’s five-star barbecue is prepped on a 250-gallon smoker at the Smoked lab, aka the large commercial kitchen where van der Linde launched his catering biz. A culinary school grad, van der Linde says he’s looking to do old school BBQ and sides at reasonable prices.

“We use an offset smoker so we don’t get too much heat close to the meat—low and slow,” he says. “We use all charcoal and hardwood hickory, no gas. Everything is dry rubbed with sauce on the side.” In addition to pulled pork, ribs, chicken, house-made hot dogs, beef and chili, Smoked offers up down home sides like mac and cheese, potato salad, coleslaw and corn bread.

“I’ve always loved barbecue, and I saw the street food movement taking over,” van der Linde says. “It definitely seems to be growing. Luckily we’re a cart and can slip into venues that a truck can’t pull into.” van der Linde attributes a good deal of the local mobile food scene’s success to the growth of the local brewery scene. We’ll drink—and eat—to that.

Spiked. Photo by Elli Williams.
Photo: Elli Williams

Spiked

There’s nothing like eating food truck grub with a cold adult bevvie in hand, so why not have some booze in your food as well? Will Conti has made this debauched dream a reality with Spiked, offering “gourmet booze-infused sliders and subs.” Conti says for the most part he tries to partner with local alcohol producers, mostly breweries and wineries, to take their products, turn them into tasty grub and serve ’em back to their very own patrons.

Conti points to the truck’s white wine chicken pesto taco, which he’s made with wine from multiple vineyards, as one of his fans’ favorites. Or there’s the hot Italian sausage, which he recently made with Starr Hill’s suds and turned around for consumption right there in the Starr Hill parking lot.

“The dishes always go over well, and it’s not really challenging” to find new ways to put booze into food, Conti says. In addition to wineries and breweries, the Spiked truck can be found parked at festivals with a focus on—you guessed it—wine and beer.

Anderson’s Carriage Food House Fresh and frozen seafood with a handful of prepared foods. andersoncarriagefoodhouse.com.

Bavarian Chef German food from the local meisters. thebavarianchef.com.

Big Easy Metro Market Cajun grub typically found nibbling around the outskirts of town. facebook.com/bigeasymetromarketva.

Black Jack’s Mobile Soul Food Kitchen Southern fried goodness. blackjacksoulfood.com.

Bruno’s GastroTruck Food dude with high aspirations in a humble setting. brunosgastrotruck.com.

Carpe Donut Hot and fresh fried dough. carpedonut.org.

Catch the Chef Fast food with an attitude. Found on the Downtown Mall by Bank of America.

Delicious George French fries on the go. facebook.com/DeliciousGeorge.

Got Dumplings? Cult favorite pan fried pork (et al.) dumplings. gotdumplingsandtea.com.

Kebab Trailer Turkish street food from an established restaurant family. Found on Grounds near the Pavilions.

Kona Ice C’ville Shaved ice in scads of flavors you can mix yourself. kona-ice.com.

Little Manila Real deal Filipino flavor. twitter.com/littlemanila1.

Mobilee Delicious Local outpost of the Italian ice and hot dog chain. mobileedelicious.com.

Mouth Wide Open Sliders with inventive toppings; truck with inventive décor. Try the buffalo chicken. mwofoodtruck.com.

Pantheon Ice Pops All-natural juices frozen up on a stick. pantheonpops.com.

South Fork Food Truck Southern staples like the addictive pimento cheese and bacon sandwich. southforkfoodtruck.com.

SpiceSea Gourmet New-to-town truck with upscale seafood dishes from a classically trained chef. spiceseagourmet.com.

Tacos Don Panchito Traditional Mexico-style tacos. Found on Westfield Road.

Tacos Gomez Traditional tacos, with some sandwiches thrown in just to mess with you. Found on East High Street.

Taqueria Mi Ranchito So many traditional tacos! Found at various local breweries.

Taste of Home Southern Cuisine Country cooking can’t be controlled by convention (see the “mac cup”). Found at various wineries and occasionally Fridays After Five.

The Flat Delicate crêpes packed with fresh ingredients. facebook.com/theflat.downtown.

The Pie Guy Savory pies inspired by the land down under. thepieguy.org.

The Popcorn Guy Kettle corn fired up right before your eyes. facebook.com/thepopcornguyofcville.

The Sweet Tooth Classic, kid-friendly ice cream and candy truck. facebook.com/Sweetooth.cvilleva.

Two Brothers Southwestern Grill Taco truck; sometimes mixes it up with frickin’ linguine. Found at Champion Brewing Company.

Vanguard Ranch Farm to trailer dishes that’ll get your goat. vanguardranch.com.

Whole Foods The master of mainstream organic, focusing on Tex-Mex. twitter.com/wholefoodscvl.

For more summer fun, continue reading here.

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