Buffalo Spree's 2014 WNY Food Truck Guide
Food truck image by Josh Flanigan
Buffalo and Western New York have become heavily populated with food trucks in recent years, so Buffalo Spree wanted to offer a guide that might assist visitors to our region, as well as locals who may be overwhlemed by the variety of options.
For the most updated food truck info, be sure to visit your favorite via Facebook, Twitter, or the web.
Photos by kc kratt
What they serve: All of the approximately twenty-two menu items available at Amy’s Food Truck are favorites from the Amy’s Place menu. Omnivores, vegetarians, and vegans alike will find a nice range of options—handy icons indicate which items are which. Many of the menu items were created by former Amy’s Place employees and bear the creators’ names. The Biff Sandwich, for instance, is BBQ seitan strips with onion, lettuce, tomato, and vegan garlic spread, all rolled up in a pita. The Anne Kabobs, char-broiled chicken strips with hummus, feta, and tomatoes, are also rolled in a pita. The Bruce Bowl is lentil soup topped with onions, hot sauce, and cheddar. Other classics from the Amy’s Place menu, like the Lentil and Lentil-Berry Sandwiches and the owner’s favorite, Veggie Wet Shoes (curly fries covered in spicy lentils, grilled onions and peppers, tomatoes, and cheddar), are featured.
The story: After working at Amy’s Place (3234 Main St, amysplacebuffalo.com) for twelve years, Amanda Amico purchased a used truck from a friend of a cousin and set out to bring many of the beloved restaurant’s favorites to locations around town. When Amico launched Amy’s Food Truck in October 2012, hers was the eighth food truck in the area. Now, even with so many more in operation, Amico cites a lack of competition among the truck owners. “We’re all friendly,” Amico says, “working closely with each other and cooperating.”
Patrons say: Deb Clark, owner of the cooking school and pastry shop Delish, says, “They do a really great job with healthy options and have giant portions that taste great—and a super friendly staff!”
“For both health and environmental reasons, I recently became a vegetarian,” notes Justin Booth, executive director of GObike Buffalo. “Amy’s Food Truck is special because they provide a wealth of options for everyone. The folks behind the truck are also very community minded, and you will often see them out at events helping raise money for different local organizations. And as a member of GObike Buffalo, you get ten percent off through our bicycle benefits program. What’s not to like!”
Where you’ll find them: As Booth notes, you’ll often find Amy’s Food Truck at fundraising and cultural events around the area. The truck’s regularly scheduled lunch locations include alternate Tuesdays behind City Hall, alternating Wednesdays at First Niagara Center and Community Services for the Developmentally Disabled (452 Delaware Avenue), Thursday at Roswell Park Cancer Institute, and Fridays at Larkin Square. Look for Amy’s Food Truck at Food Truck Tuesday and other evening events at Larkin Square. —Lisa Kane
Photos by kc kratt
What they serve: Betty features fancy pierogi and homemade sausage daily, and other Polish favorites as weekly specials. Pierogi fillings include cheese, sauerkraut, potato, and pork. Its “open ’rogi” features pierogi filling served over carrot and radish slaw on a bed of field greens with dill vinaigrette. Although Polish flavors are prominent—charcuterie, root vegetables, stone fruits, all the cheeses—Betty’s repertoire does not stop at Poland’s native tastes. These are Polish classics for a contemporary palate, with twists to combine traditional flavors and modern techniques. Think of it as new Polish soul food.
The story: The truck is owned and operated by cousins and best friends Kate Hey and Dana Szczepaniak. Hey, a former marketing guru, hails from a family of restaurateurs and chefs, and has always wanted to return to the restaurant service industry. Her grandmother, uncle, and great-grandfather were the proprietors of Carl Meyer’s Hof, a Buffalo institution for nearly fifty years. Enamored by stories from the Hof, Hey stopped denying her love and surrendered to Betty. Szczepaniak, a former Manhattan CPA and Polish gal, acquired her love of traditional Polish food from her grandmother, Anna, who was born in Poland and survived WWII on German occupied land. The family always half-joked that Anna should open a pierogi stand. In an effort to bring her grandmother’s American dream to life, as well as her own vision to Buffalo’s redevelopment, Szczepaniak left NYC for Buffalo and Betty, which, after a March soft launch, she opened with Hey on Dyngus Day this year. When asked what makes Betty special, Hey and Szczepaniak say, “how [Betty] re-imagines tradition. And how pretty she is.”
Patrons say: Dennis Bartkowiak, a self-employed Airport Taxi driver from Cheektowaga, was inspired to find Betty when the Black Market Food Truck owners told him a Polish food truck would soon open. “I really had a taste for some good Polish comfort food,” says Bartkowiak. Last March, he had his first encounter, about ten minutes before Betty’s was set to leave Amherst’s Audubon Office Park. “With my first taste, I knew it was clearly Buffalo’s best comfort food with so much Polish soul, I was left speaking Polish—or at least wishing I could.” Bartkowiak loves Betty’s cheese pierogi and fresh sausage with housemade mustard.
Where you’ll find them: “We’re all over town! No neighborhood is safe!” Hey and Szczepaniak say. The truck continues to establish venues for lunch and dinner, in addition to vending at special events. —Nina Barone
Photos by kc kratt
The Black Market Food Truck
What they serve: Black Market’s fare is not commonly found in Western New York restaurants, hence the name. Though there’s been a recent banh mi boom in Buffalo, BMFT’s mastery of the offering’s finicky roll—coupled with its ever-changing creative spin on the ingredients that fill the French-influenced Vietnamese sammy—never fail to please. Sambal-coated tofu and beef with pickled mango are just two random banh mi fillings spotted on a recent menu. Offering a BLT may seem everyday, until you score a bite of BMFT’s scratchmade cheddar biscuit, crisp cracked black pepper bacon, tomato marmalade, and basil aioli, all working together to create one of the finest bacon sandwiches ever made (and eaten). The menu isn’t restricted to sandwiches—salads, arancini, and other offerings keep BMFT’s menu an enticing and seasonal kaleidoscope of food finds.
The story: Christian Willmott and Michael Dimmer, both WNY natives, spent years working together in an assortment of local restaurants (both in the front and back of the house) while pursuing degrees in other fields. It wasn’t long before they realized that the culinary world was calling, and the duo enrolled in Niagara County Community College’s cooking program. Upon graduation, they began the Nines Catering Company and quickly found success. After completing a fully funded Kickstarter campaign, BMFT came next, allowing the two friends to share their food and culinary points of view with a larger audience. Hitting the road in January 2013, BMFT quickly earned a league of loyal fans and a smattering of awards, including Spree’s Best Food Truck designation in 2013 and this year’s acknowledgment as 2014 Best New Chef. It seems the BMFT boys have a real knack for feeding Buffalo the fresh and flavorful food it desires.
Patrons say: Christopher Taylor, a competitor and owner of the Roaming Buffalo truck, was so impressed with BMFT’s offerings that he left a Yelp review, a gesture of uncommon grace in the traditional dog-eat-dog small business world. It says, in part: “Everything that comes out of this truck is purely amazing. These guys put so much time, effort, and love into their food. I have had many conversations with them, and you can just see the passion they put into it.”
Where you’ll find them: The Black Market can always be found at Larkin Square’s Food Truck Tuesdays, as well as other festivals and events, and it makes regular lunch stops at a variety of urban and suburban businesses such as Roswell Park and Calspan—the schedule is typically available on its website.—Christa Glennie Seychew
Photos by Nancy J. Parisi
The Cheesy Chick
What they serve: Cheesy Chick’s tag line is “Grilled cheese on the go” but the truck serves much more. In addition to its traditional grilled cheese sandwich—which is pressed between white bread slices with or without meat choices such as bacon, salami, turkey, or ham—there is a Nutella-based sandwich, a spinach veggie wrap, a chicken quesadilla, a Buffalo chicken sandwich, and a Meat Lovers wrap (three meats with hot peppers, pepper jack cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, and ranch dressing).
The story: Owner Simone Fancher purchased the business from its previous owner in 2013 and operates it with daughter Stefanie Rowan, who handles social media, and son Jonathan Rowan, who keeps the books. The truck features colors reminiscent of a girls’ toy store section (golden yellow, salmon, and purple and an iconic woman who resembles a Barbie brandishing a spatula). “The kids and I thought that owning a food truck would be a great way to see the events and festivals of Buffalo—it is!” says Simone Fancher.
Where you’ll find them: at Larkin Square on Food Truck Tuesdays, and various festivals and events around town. —Nancy J. Parisi
Photos by kc kratt
What they serve: FallyMac offers six different mac and cheese dishes daily, including its top seller: classic orange cheddar mac, which can be topped with toasted parmesan breadcrumbs or Cincinnati-style beef chili sauce. The ever-changing menu includes specialty fare like Pink Lobster Mac and a beef on ’weck-themed mac, as well as soup, sandwiches, and a rotating lineup of whoopie pies for dessert.
The story: For owner Falynn Koch, the macaroni and cheese that started it all was a simple white cheddar mac that later morphed into about a dozen other varieties, including a jalapeno bacon-studded mac and a truffle, mushroom, and Gouda recipe. Koch was just beginning culinary school in Georgia when she decided to put her studies on hold and launch her dream business—in November of 2013. “Everybody kept telling me I had to do something with these recipes, and a food truck just seemed like a good fit,” she says.
“There’s definitely camaraderie and a playful competitiveness,” Koch says of the food truck industry. “We’re still a little bit of the underdogs, and we’re trying to work out issues together. When my truck showed up on the scene, everyone was super welcoming.”
Patrons say: “The food is excellent. She uses great ingredients and doesn’t cut corners,” says Vincent Cuviello Sr., whose favorite item is the meatloaf sandwich—grilled meatloaf with tangy sauce, provolone cheese, pickles, and onions on ciabatta bread. “And I like her—she has a good personality, and I enjoy seeing her and talking to her. A big part in anything you do is your personality.”
Where you’ll find them: FallyMac’s bright blue Sprinter van is easy to spot. Koch parks on Hertel, Elmwood, and near area colleges like Daemen and UB every week. You can also catch the truck at Food Truck Tuesdays at Larkin Square, the monthly Food Truck Rodeos at the Buffalo History Museum, and other events throughout the summer.—Matthew Biddle
Photos by kc kratt
Frank Gourmet Hot Dogs
What they serve: If you’re after a boiled dog plucked out of gray water, look elsewhere. Frank offers lunchtime options like the Proud Mary—a dog from Atlanta’s Spotted Trotter topped with bacon, caramelized onions, and Tijuana hot cream cheese. Feeling extra adventurous? Slide down the menu board to the specialty dogs and try the Real Housewife. This pork belly frank is topped with panko goat cheese, pickled red onions, balsamic, and arugula. And don’t forget the hand-cut fries, regular or sweet potato. Don’t want meat? Not to worry; Frank makes homemade veggie dogs as well.
The story: Native Buffalonians and entrepreneurs Frank and Paul Tripi, who also happen to be twins, first hatched the plan for gourmet franks on wheels about five years ago. Not wanting to go deep into dog debt, the team saved cash as they developed a menu and a plan. Finally, in January 2013, they fired up their food truck and served their first gourmet hot dog.
Frank says he and his brother always wanted to be entrepreneurs. Equipped with a background in food service, a love of hot dogs, and at least one first name that lent itself to hawking frankfurters, their concept was born. Though Buffalo is teeming with food trucks, Frank and Paul believe they have carved out a niche with gourmet dogs. With a rabid following on social media, #FindFrank has become a lunchtime mantra for many a cubicle dweller looking to get a hot dog fix.
“We started with Sahlens’ hot dogs last year because it was a familiar brand in Buffalo,” Paul says. “This year is totally different. We wanted the hot dogs to be healthier and unique. We source them now from the Brooklyn Hot Dog Company and from the Spotted Trotter in Atlanta, Georgia. These are all natural hot dogs, using preservative free, sustainable meats—just much higher-quality, healthier dogs.”
Patrons say: On a slightly overcast day, gourmet dog aficionado Kelly Costanza leans in to the order window of the truck. The boys are set up outside of Roswell Park and Costanza has become a regular. “These hot dogs are delicious,” she says, as she waits for her Proud Mary to be assembled, “and they are offering a menu you can’t get anywhere else.”
Where you’ll find them: Anywhere and everywhere. Though they have some set locales, the Tripi brothers and their crew cover the Northtowns, the Southtowns, and everything in between. Frank is also available for private parties—anyone up for a hot dog wedding? —Matt Chandler
Photos by kc kratt
The Great Foodini
What they serve: Monthly specials and a regular menu featuring Greek wraps and salads, po’ boy sandwiches, and stone-baked pizzas. Hand-cut fries are only $2 with any order. Portions are huge, the salads crisp and fresh, and owner Michael Attardo says he wakes up at six a.m. on service days to cut raw potatoes into fries. The truck’s chicken wing pizza is gooey with cheese, has a good kick, and won’t sog out on the ride home. Also recommended are the homemade mac and cheese or the crispy Bang Bang Chicken Wrap. The truck’s from-scratch policy pays off.
The story: Lewiston native and CIA-trained Attardo, formerly of the Red Coach Inn, Bistro at the Old Fort Inn, and Seneca Niagara Casino, unveiled The Great Foodini—his first food truck—at the Niagara Falls Blues Festival last August, making waves by being promptly rejected by the Town of Lewiston (festivals were okay, the town said, but no parking in town). Attardo put the truck in gear and moved on, and now serves up a Mediterranean-themed menu to hungry office workers throughout Erie and Niagara counties. Attardo has outfitted his truck to handle catering jobs as well as lunchtime and dinner service, and even has a pizza stone for baking up his thin, cornmeal-crusted pizzas. “I have an Italian-Polish background,” Attardo says, “so unlike the themed trucks, I wanted to offer a mix of everything. Mediterranean flavors, comfort foods, and healthy items.”
Where you’ll find them: First Niagara Center, Niagara University, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Buffalo Psychiatric Center at Buffalo State College, Local Edge on Sheridan Drive, other Erie and Niagara County locations. —Lauren Newkirk Maynard
Photos by Nancy J. Parisi
Greek on the Street
What they serve: Greek on the Street serves traditional, hand-held Greek fare, like beef or chicken souvlaki, gyros, and spanakopita. Souvlaki here is served as a wrap or on a bed of lettuce—with a fork. Rice pudding and baklava are regularly featured dessert items.
The story: Owner Serafim (Sam) Vasiliadis opened his brick and mortar restaurant, Serafim’s (2298 River Road in Wheatfield) in 2008 and rolled out his food truck in June, 2013. What makes Greek on the Street distinctive is their all-Greek diner offerings—there are no appearances from fries or anything deep fried. Vasiliadis is enthusiastic about the food truck scene and hints that a second GotS truck may be in the works soon. “I was hanging out with a bunch of friends and we were talking about food trucks, and then the wheels started spinning. That was a Wednesday and the following day I was shopping for a food truck and found this truck in Rochester. I was up and running a month after that—how I did that I have no idea,” says Vasiliadis.
Where you’ll find them: Tuesdays at Larkin Square, every other Wednesday at First Niagara Center, Thursdays at Time Warner Call Center on Eagle Street at Michigan Avenue, Fridays at the Farmers’ Market on Grider Street across from E.C.M.C., and “I’m working on a few new places,” Vasiliadis says. —Nancy J. Parisi
Photos by of kc kratt
Hot off the Press
What they serve: HOTP serves a range of panini, including a roast beef melt, a cheesy artichoke chicken version, and a white pizza-nini. The best seller is the spicy Buffalo chicken sandwich, featuring shredded grilled chicken with Frank’s, blue cheese, cream cheese, and colby jack on a spicy roll. Owner Nicole Burke’s favorite is the spinach ricotta melt, one of several vegetarian options. Save room for the baked tater tots with your choice of ranch, spicy blue, chipotle, or BBQ dipping sauce. This summer, the truck will also offer loaded tots.
The story: Hamburg resident Burke has worked in the restaurant industry since she was fifteen, starting as a hostess at Pettibones Grille, located inside Coca-Cola Field, where she continues to work as a suite server. Last June, the Hilbert College grad decided to go out on her own and join the exploding food truck industry with Hot Off The Press, a bright orange-and-green truck serving panini, homemade soup, side salads, and tater tots.
“This is just an all-around fun job. You’re out on the street, somewhere new, and you get to meet new people every day,” says Burke. “We’re a very friendly truck, and we love to talk to and meet new people.
Patrons say: “Hot Off The Press is the total package. The service is friendly and expedient, and obviously the best part is the quality of the food,” says JoAnn Mohler, whose favorite menu items are the spicy Buffalo chicken and the caprese panini. “I eat from Hot Off The Press when they are parked at my work, and on days off, when my girls are home from school, we are sure to track down the truck.”
Where you’ll find them: Besides Food Truck Tuesdays at Larkin Square and the Food Truck Rodeos at the Buffalo History Museum, frequent stops include First Niagara Center, M&T Bank on Holtz Drive in Cheektowaga, and Bank of America on Transit in West Seneca. —Matthew Biddle
Photos by Nancy J. Parisi
House of Munch
What they serve: Imagine yourself strolling down a carnival midway and suddenly hunger sets in as you wend among the people, the games of chance, and the wafting scents of fair food: this is the hunger House of Munch seeks to fulfill from their red and yellow truck. The House of Munch menu centers on hotdogs with various sauces, corndogs, and sometimes burrito or chicken finger wrap specials. The truck also serve kettle corn, pretzels, and Texas Cheese Fries. The hottest menu item is the fried dough. Cotton candy, birch beer, and lemonade round out the old-timey offerings.
The story: The House of Munch food truck was inaugurated in 2010; however, this family has worked as a food service team for approximately three decades under the business name Creekview Services. Their name comes from the television show Family Guy, and was chosen by co-owner Jake Albarella. Their biggest selling item is the fried dough, which is a little larger than the average human head, with the next-biggest sellers being the HoM hotdogs, slathered in various sauces and condiments. Leah Albarella (who manages all HoM social media) says “Working with family is great; you get to spend time with one another and have fun along with running the business. It’s become a family routine for us now, working together springs, summers, and falls. In the winter, it’s pretty quiet and that’s when we do equipment updates and get the calendar together for the next busy season. We’ve been doing this for quite a while; we were one of the first food trucks in the area so I guess we do feel like the old-timers.”
Where you’ll find them: Its standing curbside locations are Tuesdays and Wednesdays at Larkin Square, and Thursdays at West Seneca Market. The schedule also changes weekly to accommodate festivals and shows. —Nancy J. Parisi
Photosby kc kratt
J&L Boulevard Barbecue
What they serve: Try J&L’s smoke-kissed beef brisket, handpulled pork, or slow roasted rotisserie chicken. An impressive list of housemade side side dishes kicks off with Potato Explosion, a play on the traditional baked potato incarnated as a cold potato salad. A side of nine-spiced French fries is sure to draw a bit of sweat during the warm months, but an order of cornbread may soothe your palate. Standards such as coleslaw, baked beans, and traditional potato salad are also available.
The story: With a motto of “cooked low and slow, served fast and friendly,” J&L BBQ’s ethos is downhome comfort food served with a smile. Barbecue afficionados may have already tried the savory snacks served by the North Tonawanda-based restaurant, J&L’s Boulevard BBQ, located a short jump from Buffalo on Erie Avenue. The popular barbecue joint put the pedal to the metal toward the end of last summer, when it brought its well-regarded smoked meat and sides to the streets. With an eye toward serving fresh food made from scratch, J&L is popular at large gatherings and events. The owners tell us they have over fifty years of barbecuing experience under their belts, and a host of awards to show for it, including Smokin’ Eagles Best Ribs award, Oinktoberfest’s accolades for Best Baked Beans, and Soupfest’s Best Stew nod for their take on the classic Brunswick variety.
Patrons say: Andrew Galarneau, restaurant critc for the Buffalo News, notes in a recent review of the restaurant: “There’s no doubt it’s real barbecue. When the meat is good, I don’t care as much if the table’s wobbly. Or the sauce bottles are mysteries. I wasn’t prompted to reach for a sauce bottle once while I was there, which is a compliment, in a way.”
Where you’ll find them: Follow the smoky scent emanating from the truck at Larkin Square’s Food Truck Tuesdays. Or, if you’re a fan of Tonawanda’s Thunder on the Niagara Boat Races, look for J&L to bring an added kick to the entertainment there in August. In their first full summer on the road, J&L is ready to prove that they are truly Buffalo’s best barbecue. —Edward Forster
Photos by kc kratt
What they serve: The truck serves sliders—each order includes, roughly, three-to-four bite sized burgers. The description doesn’t sound that intriguing, until you see the menu. With options including a beef burger with a fried egg and kim chee, an ostrich burger, and a scallop slider, Knight Slider brings what can be served between a bun to the next level. A nod to David Hasselhoff, dubbed The Hoff, includes BBQ, fried onions, and cheese. The Hoff’s sidekick, Kitt, from the Knight Rider TV show I grew up watching, is given a blue cheese and bacon flavor profile. Kitsch aside, the Slider has been known to serve falafel, lobster, and even foie gras topped burgers to the hungry masses. Keep an eye out, as these adventurous cats are slinging ‘dem burgers ‘til they run out. Oh, and the soft rolls? They’re made every day out of a bakery in North Tonawanda just for that day’s service.
The story: Mike Abboud, the face and creative mind behind most things Knight Slider, came to Buffalo from New York City to attend UB. Abboud earned his political science degree and looked to the future to find what it held next, but a career using his degree was not in the cards. Abboud had grown up in restaurants—washing dishes, peeling carrots, and otherwise paying his dues starting at the ripe age of thirteen—and now he is running one of the most popular WNY eateries on wheels.
Patrons say: On Twitter, Braundamonium tweets that his “favorite thing about the NT Farmer’s market is now (he) get(s) a Knight Slider Breakfast Slider when (he goes)! Joe Liolos tells his Facebook friends, “If you see it driving around, follow it around until it stops and get something to eat from it.” (You know what, Joe, we believe you, and we will do just that).
Where you’ll find them: Knight Slider is satiating its friends and new converts at Food Truck Tuesdays at Larkin Square weekly. You can also find it at the farmers market on Saturday mornings in North Tonawanda, and during weekday appearances at First Niagara Center, Larkin, and Roswell. —Edward Forster
Photos by kc kratt
What they serve: While taqueria-based staples like Tomatillo Pork Tacos, Braised Beef Burritos, and Tricked Out Nachos form the basis of Lloyd’s menu, the trucks also dish out specials like the Big Daddy BBQ with blue cheese coleslaw, Chorizo Mac & Cheese, breakfast burritos, Squid Rock (fried calamari, habanero aioli, mango salsa, red cabbage), and Aztec Brownies. Not for Wimps Hot Sauce is always an optional accessory. “Street Food on the Edge” is Lloyd’s celebrated tagline and edgy is certainly right up there with creative, exciting, and unexpected as descriptors for the Lloyd experience.
The story: Lloyd was established in 2010 by two guys who have been buddies since childhood. Chef Chris Dorsaneo is a veteran of upscale restaurants and resorts across the country and Peter Cimino is a local businessman who was in search of a sound business concept. Inspired by Giovanni’s Shrimp Shack in Hawaii and the success of Kogi, Ray Choi’s Korean-Mexican fusion food truck fleet in Los Angeles, Lloyd brought tasty, creative Southern California-influenced comestibles to the streets of Buffalo. As president of the Buffalo Food Truck Association, Cimino strives to advance the interests of the group and brushes aside any worries of usurping bricks-and-mortar businesses. “I think the whole sky-is-falling mentality and my-restaurant’s-gonna-close thing has pretty much gone out the window now that we’ve been around as long as we have and there’s been no evidence that we’re hindering anybody,” he says. “I don’t think anyone can question not only the support we’re getting from citizens but also the community outreach that we do.” Lloyd partners with the Food Bank, Meals on Wheels, and City Mission, and works with high schools through scholarship programs and funding sporting trips. Adds Cimino, “If you look at the stats, it’s going to get to a point where this little industry will be employing a decent amount of people.”
Patrons say: “I come to Lloyd’s once or twice a week to pick up lunch for me and my husband,” says Emily Santos while queued up at the truck parked in a Buff State lot. “I like the wonderful sauces on everything. They’re always a little different. I guess you could say the reason I like Lloyd’s food is that it’s inconsistent in a consistently interesting way.”
Where you’ll find them: While Lloyd’s “heartbeat is in the city,” its trucks also travel to Amherst and East Aurora. Popular stops include Hertel and Elmwood Avenues, Buff State, First Niagara Center, Larkin Square, Allentown, Centerpointe, Daemen College, and Lancaster High School. —Phil Nyhuis
Photos by Nancy J. Parisi
What they serve: Macarollin’ serves mac and cheese, from classic to very elaborate variations, such as Szechuan Duck Mac and Cheese. The latter is a special that is presented on a very limited basis. The truck has also featured Creole Shrimp Mac and Cheese, and French Onion Mac and Cheese (which is dotted with braised beef, carmelized onions, au poivre sauce, and cornbread breadcrumbs). Macarollin’ does not skimp on the cheese or the bonus ingredients.
The story: Franchiser Chuck Andrews has two trucks at this time—one in Buffalo and one in Rochester; the Buffalo truck got rolling on May 28, 2013. His staff includes an operations manager for each truck and, depending on the event, between three to six employees working on the truck. Andrews, when asked if he’s a mac and cheese fanatic, says “I guess you might say that I would consider someone calling me that a compliment. Our mac and cheese will change your life. That’s pretty confident, I know, but our following keeps growing and people seek us out—we do things with mac and cheese that people would never do.”
Where you'll find them: During the summer, the truck has standing dates at both Larkin Square’s Food Truck Tuesdays and Artpark’s amphitheater on Wednesdays. —Nancy J. Parisi
Photos by kc kratt
What they serve: Personal pizzas, cooked to order might initially seem like a bad idea for a mobile operation, since no food truck’s oven or flattop can get hot enough to produce a good pizza. But Pizza Amore isn’t any ol’ food truck. It’s actually a fourteen-foot trailer that houses a 6,000-pound wood burning brick oven. Fully stoked, the oven reaches 700 degrees, and is capable of crisping crusts in under four minutes. The truck offers a variety of toppings as well as its own signature pizzas, which include selections such as prosciutto with arugula, spinach with ricotta, and meatball, among others. In addition to pizza, Amore also lists at least one fresh salad and handfilled cannoli on its mobile menu.
The story: Husband and wife team David and Diana Perri put Pizza Amore on the road in May of 2011. After a year of success, the pair opened a restaurant on Grand Island, located in, of all places, a gas station. But the quality of the pizza has earned the brick and mortar location solid reviews, and the continued popularity of the mobile unit led to the purchase of a second truck this year. The “trucks” are actually trailers, hauled to each location by a large pick-up truck. Custom built, fully-enclosed, and modified to meet local health code requirements, both Pizza Amore trucks are two of only six of their kind in the nation. But mobile or not mobile, how does one grow a business so exponentially in such a short period of time? In addition to serving a popular product, it’s all about the people. “I couldn’t do this without my wife and our kids,” says David, who, between the two trucks and the restaurant, employs all four of his children—DJ (twenty-four), Danielle (twenty-two), Dominique (eighteen), and Devon (seventeen). “My wife Diane is the one who keeps it all together, fields all the communication, coordinates all the trucks, and schedules all the parties,” he says. “Me? I don’t do anything.” As modest as David Perri might be, it’s clear that Pizza Amore’s success is based on his family’s commitment to the buisness, good pizza, and one another.
Patrons say: “The pizza itself was very good in my opinion. Had a nice fieriness to the crust that left it crisp and the bottom slightly charred, just how I like it. Then their sauce is definitely GARLICKY. But I am a fan of the clove, so it was just a bonus taste for me,” writes Dan K., a frequent Yelp reviewer. Other social media sites display a similar level of enthusiasm for Pizza Amore’s slightly charred-crust.
Where you’ll find them: Larkin Square’s Food Truck Tuesdays and the History Museum’s Food Truck Rodeos are always on the Amore schedule, as is the case for many of the trucks who are members of the WNY Food Truck Association. “Even though we aren’t technically a truck,” says David, “they brought us into the fold early on and always include us.” Lunches are typically spent at businesses that invite Amore to park in a privately owned lot. As with many of the trucks in our guide, Buffalo and Buffalo Place’s cost-prohibitive permits, and the varying legislation between towns, villages, and suburban cities, are most easily avoided by sticking to private events and lots rather than public thoroughfares.—Christa Glennie Seychew
Photos by kc kratt
What they serve: The menu changes daily, but you can count on basic comfort foods like pulled pork, cornbread, and mac ’n’ cheese, as well as specialty items like a chicken and broccoli burrito, a bacon burrito dog, pork nachos, and other twists on barbecue and Tex-Mex favorites. The Fireball burger includes onion rings, cheese, and hot sauce. The BBQ chicken wrap is one of the truck’s healthy offerings, which are always available, and change regularly.
The story: R&R BBQ is Buffalo’s second food truck, opened by owner Renee Allen in December, 2010. With Allen dishing out the savory items, mom Wende Porter soon joined her daughter to provide diners with baked goods like cookies, pies, cupcakes, and brownies. The duo was so successful that Allen began offering catering from the truck and in 2012, added a brick and mortar restaurant to the mix. Located at 5952 Seneca Street in Alden, the restaurant offers similar hearty downhome fare. As Allen explains, “I feel that with the food truck, catering, and restaurant trifecta we are able to serve a large amount of people and offer many dining options.”
Patrons say: According to Roy Honcho Gregory’s Facebook review, “They know BBQ; they also put a great twist on BBQ. We teach BBQ at NU—trust me on this one.”
Where you’ll find them: R&R BBQ is a lunchtime regular at Materion and First Niagara Center, with evening stops at the Larkin Square and Buffalo History Museum food truck events, as well as many other locations, which change. —Elizabeth Licata
Photos by kc kratt
The Roaming Buffalo
What they serve: Diners will find an approachable menu of burgers, sandwiches, dogs, fries, and a selection of daily specials. Roaming Buffalo’s WTF!?!? Burger (pardon the acronym) is a hot topic of debate between the unenlightened and those who have had it and know just how awesome the polygamous marriage of highly-seasoned beef, peanut butter, and bacon jam can be.
The story: Christopher and Valerie Taylor’s truck was one of the first to hit Buffalo’s streets. The Taylors, a married couple with young children, fought for fair food truck codes beside the Lloyd taco boys and a few other early adopters, helping to achieve (in city proper, anyway) some of the country’s most progressive (though pricey) regulations. The war has not been won in its entirety, however, as the Taylors and their peers still need to continue the battle in every local village, town, hill, and hollow outside of the city. But the Taylors are up for it, committed to sharing their favorite Buffalo foods with more than just Buffalo. The couple hope to “smack the taste” of Buffalo into mouths worldwide, by one day bringing Buffalo-food themed trucks to communities outside of New York, places where expatriates live in herds—North Carolina, Phoenix, Tampa Bay, and elsewhere. In the meantime, Buffalo’s bustling food truck scene is happy to have a supplier of burgers, Sahlen’s dogs, and “Buffalo-style” poutine (made so with the substitution of ubiquitous Frank’s Red Hot and crumbles of blue cheese).
What patrons say: Nate S., a Yelp user, shares this: “Hands down the best burger in Buffalo. There is no doubt why they won “Best Burger in WNY” [from] Spree . I voted for them. They always have different stuff to try. But the burgers steal the show. Where else do you see beef tongue and pork belly on the same truck? No one in Buffalo is doing that.”
Where you’ll find them: Roaming Buffalo can be found at Larkin Square on Tuesday evenings and at Roswell for lunch most Wednesdays. An extensive website calendar helpfully displays the schedule weeks in advance. —Christa Glennie Seychew
Photos by kc kratt
Rolling Joe Cafe
What they serve: Rolling Joe is a coffee truck, dedicated to providing consumers with a wide selection of beverages. It has cappuccino, latte, mochas, and traditional coffee drinks, made with care. However, owner Spears makes some interesting creations, some of which work especially well for summer. Try the Hot Apple Pie or Banana Split beverages, or maybe a mocchachino.
The story: Rolling Joe has been in operation since 2011. With a resume that lists his only food and beverage experience as being the lemonade stand he started as a boy, Spears has truly embraced the entrepreneurial spirit. He is a personable fellow, and with coffee that is “one minute fresh,” he likes to refer to himself as Chief Caffeinating Officer.
Patrons say: According to Alex L., via Yelp, “My girlfriend ordered the drinkable Banana Split with strawberry, banana chocolate, vanilla over ice with whipped cream. She mentioned that she LOVED it and it was just like ‘drinking’ a banana split, as promised.”
Where you’ll find them: Rolling Joe brews and pulls shots mostly in the evening, focusing on special events. Feeling a bit worn after your work week while at Silo Fleas? Rolling Joe. Excited to check out hours of artistic entertainment at City of Night, or taste through every truck at Food Truck Tuesdays at Larkin Square? Check out Rolling Joe. Chances are, if you need that last little caffeine bump, Joe is already en route to you. —Edward Forster
Photos by kc kratt
The Sweet Hearth
What they serve: The Sweet Hearth is WNY’s first and only dessert focused food truck, with everything made from scratch in small batches. Old-fashioned desserts and treats include pastries and coffee cakes, cinnamon buns, cakes, pies, cookies, brownies, fudge and seasonal candies, cheesecakes, puddings, and frozen desserts. Some recipes have been handed down through the generations, like owner Kelly Brewer’s great-grandma Zajac’s placek recipe; many are Brewer’s own creations.
The story: Brewer thought the idea of a truck selling old-fashioned baked goods sounded like a winner, and she designed her truck like a kitchen from the 1950s (her grandmother’s kitchen). “My inspiration for the food truck came as I was researching opening a bakery,” says Brewer. “I recently moved back to Buffalo after being gone for twenty years. During most of my time away, I worked for a Fortune 100 company in San Antonio, Texas; I spent a lot of time traveling and being away from home for my job. When I moved back home, it was my hope to start a business doing something I really enjoyed. I soon realized how daunting the costs associated with opening a bakery were and I didn’t want to bankrupt myself if there was a chance it wouldn’t work out. That’s when the thought of a food truck bakery blossomed. I could build it small scale with the truck, test the waters, build a brand, and hopefully one day have a brick and mortar as well. It seemed logical and much safer.”
Patrons say: Danielle Wisinski, a registered nurse from Hamburg, says her favorite item is “the chocolate bread pudding with warm bourbon caramel sauce. I’m a sucker for anything chocolate, but add that caramel and some whipped cream…I was all in! It is the perfect blend of flavors, complete with that bourbon tingle on your tongue.” Wisinski and her family first discovered the Sweet Hearth a little over a year ago.
Where you’ll find them: Beyond Larkin Square on Tuesday evenings and Court Street during the week when the weather is good, the truck doesn’t have many regular haunts. Brewer has tried lunchtime gigs, but that isn’t ideal for her business. The Sweet Hearth focuses on evening venues and family focused weekend events, fundraisers, and catering. —Nina Barone
Photos by kc katt
The Whole Hog
What they serve: Whole Hog is known for its pulled pork sandwich, but patrons also enjoy other regular menu items—like macaroni and cheese—as well as specials that often include faraway flavors or locally sourced ingredients. For example, spring brings with it a host of dishes infused with the bright and garlicky taste of wild ramps (leeks), which are foraged by the chef. Or the occasional brunch service, which might include items like bagels prepared by local co-operative bakery BreadHive. Specials can also be influenced by a variety of world cuisines; take, for instance, an East Indian-spiced chicken taco or an Asian-flavored meatball sandwich with sriracha spiked mayo. It’s also important to note, that despite its moniker, the Whole Hog goes out of its way to offer vegan options for those who don’t eat animal products.
The story: Former owner Kathleen Haggerty, a Buffalo native, started Whole Hog when she returned from a very long and successful stint as the owner and chef of a Seattle restaurant. After a few years and a career shift, Kathleen transferred ownership of the Hog to her nephew, Brenden Haggerty, a young up-and-coming cook who, at the time, was the executive chef at Tabree. Since Brenden’s been at the wheel, Whole Hog has become a regular and popular participant in WNY’s growing food truck scene, serving its fare at public events in the evening and in business parking lots during lunch hours.
Patrons say: Yelper Laura Suttell especially likes the truck’s meatless offerings: “As other, more eloquent reviewers have noted, the Whole Hog does vegetarian and vegan dishes right. Last night, at Larkin Square, I was again wowed by Whole Hog’s side dishes. The quinoa with olives, tomatoes, and feta was the best quinoa dish I’ve tasted in a long time. Salty, yes, but I like it that way. In August, they had a killer melon salad and were kind enough to share the recipe.”
Where you'll find them: The Whole Hog regularly serves lunch at several organizations during the week, including Aspire WNY, the downtown DEC office, and First Niagara Center. Court Street behind City Hall is another popular spot for many of the trucks, including Whole Hog, which can also be found at Larkin Square’s Food Truck Tuesdays and late nights on the west end of Allentown. —Christa Glennie Seychew