I know what you’re thinking, where or what is Chesterton, Indiana? Well it’s a small town of about 13,000 people located in the northwest corner of Indiana. It is just south of the Indiana Dunes State Park and the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. We were spending a few days there birding and visiting friends before heading on to Ohio for a week of more birding on South Bass Island, Magee Marsh and Point Pelee, Ontario.
I hadn’t scoped out dining options before we arrived and assumed we would be finding the usual fare of chain restaurants. We were dining at our friend’s house on the second night so we had to locate a restaurant for our first night in town. After consulting the telephone book we did discover the typical “chain” restaurants but to our surprise, an interesting selection of Indian, Greek, Chinese, Mexican , Italian and American. We settled on an Italian, Lucrezia, partly because the reviews were very good but maybe also because we have been watching “The Borgias” series on Showtime. Now in the 15th C. I may not have accepted a glass of wine from Lucrezia Borgia but I would go back to her namesake restaurant in a minute. We shared a starter of a creamy risotto with asparagus and shrimp and for mains Curt had Pork Osso Buco and I had Sacchetti – Porcini Mushroom (stuffed “Purses”) w/ shrimp, spinach and vodka cream sauce. All was Primo! Sorry, we didn’t take any pictures.
Lunch the next day was another treat. The Dunes area has many different birding habitats: a bog, a marsh…sand dunes. These areas are intertwined amongst residential and smaller commercial areas. Leaving the Marsh we came around a corner that had a small grocery, a liquor store and a food truck. But not an ordinary food truck but a wood-fired pizza truck!
The food trucks I am familiar with are usually big vans with a walk-up window, this was literally a truck. The tables on the side served as the counter and these guys specialized in pizza. No sandwiches, n0 wraps, no salads – just pizza and drinks.
And these pizzas, although based on traditional pizza combinations, have their own “Stonebaker” twist as you can see from the menu board.
So how do these guys get a great wood-fired pizza lunch out to a walk-up and drive-in crowd quickly? Frozen pre-made pies in a toaster oven? Ha! In the truck, behind where those guys are standing is an actual full brick, wood-fired oven, flames and all. Fire on wheels! The temperature on the oven floor reaches 900˚ (probably more like 1200˚ in the dome) and they told Curt (the pyro amongst us) that although the pizzas take less than 10 minutes to make, they only bake for 90 seconds in the oven. As soon as we placed our orders with the first guy – Curt, ordered a Gotham City – me, a Margherita (fresh basil and tomatoes, mozzarella, olive oil) – the second guy was getting out the crust and applying the ingredients. By the time we paid, got our Goose Island Root Beer and took a seat at one of the picnic tables our pies were in the oven.
Ninety seconds later they were done, being cut and put on a plate. Totally amazing! And really good. Curt especially like the Ricotta on the Gotham, giving it an extra creaminess that played nicely against the spiciness of the pepperoni. Ninety seconds might not seem like a long enough time to cook a pizza, but at 9oo˚ with a thin crust it works, and as you can see the crust and the edges of the pepperoni get nicely browned and crispy and the cheese is melted but not burned.
The observant among you might wonder what “Buffalo” pepperoni is. We did. You might assume it’s some pepperoni twist on the “Buffalo” wing thing that crops up everywhere. That’s what we thought. Well …no. The pizza guy explained that it was a type of pepperoni from Buffalo, NY (same place as the Buffalo wing) and what made it different was that the slices “cupped” up during the baking, allowing the slices to get a nice crispy browned edge. Curt and I both looked at each other and said, “Doesn’t all pepperoni do that?” As you can see in the photo below (and from our comments) that, in fact, that is what happens. Oh well, the pizza was good despite the spurious ingredient description. Now if these guys would just go on the road and come to Wisconsin.