Del Popolo is a food truck taken to a whole other level. In fact, it’s not even technically a truck but a shipping container fashioned into a mobile pizzeria and equipped with a 5,000-pound wood-burning oven custom-made in Naples, Italy.
And behind the wheels (figuratively, if not literally) is Jon Darsky, former opening pizzaiolo for Flour + Water in San Francisco. Darsky broke off on his own hoping to open his own pizzeria, but frustrated by finding a suitable space for his dream restaurant he decided to hit the road when the food truck craze started taking over the Bay Area.
Opened at the beginning of summer, Del Popolo makes a statement wherever it parks. The street-facing side of the truck is made of glass windows, showcasing Darksky and his crew pulling together freshly made pizzas topped with locally sourced ingredients.
While Darsky primarily works the weekday lunch crowd in the city (check its Facebook and Twitter feed for exact locations and times), last Thursday night he did a special pop-up appearance parked in front of the American Grilled Cheese Kitchen in SOMA. The truck was parked from 5:30 to 9 p.m., and I got there near the end of the night after a symposium I attended earlier.
Like every special pop-up event, a crowd was already waiting and Darsky and his crew were starting to get backed-up trying to meet the demand. I don’t know if this is typical of the service, but it took me about 25 minutes to get to the front of the line and then an additional 40 minutes before I got my pizza.
Note: I typically would not wait 40 minutes for a pizza but 1) I didn’t know it would take that long, 2) I had a snack before the symposium so I wasn’t starving, and 3) I had to get a picture of a pizza for this post.
Del Popolo, which specializes in Neopolitan-style pizzas, offered three types that night – the traditional margherita, a white pizza (no tomato sauce), and a meat pizza with pepperoni and rapini. Of course, the meat pizza was sold out by the time I got there, so I ordered the margherita ($10).
The margherita looked like it came straight from the oven of Flour + Water, with that same blistered edge from the wood-fire oven. The flavor and quality of the dough matched some of the best pizzas coming out of any restaurant in town, the fresh basil added a sweet fragrance to the balance of mozzarella cheese and warm and slightly chewy crust.
The only criticism I would have is that I prefer my tomato sauce on the sweeter side rather than the naturally tart flavor on Del Popolo’s pie.
Still, it is a pizza worth the $10, but maybe not worth the 40-minute wait. Seek out Del Popolo on its regular lunch appearances, when the lines might not be as crazy. We are still just talking about pizza, people.