Robert and Jessie Gall have named their oven Blue. Not everyone names their kitchen equipment, but Blue isn't your ordinary oven. Should you get the chance to see Blue, which isn't out of the realm of possibility because Focoso customers are often invited on board the food truck, you'll instantly understand why the husband and wife team behind Focoso are so enamored with the oven.
The Valoriani oven, which is bright blue, was made in Italy from terracotta bricks that were salt cured in the Mediterranean. The $10,000 piece of equipment takes up about one third of the space inside the truck. From this beautiful wood-burning oven to the pizzas that come out of it, the Galls are committed to crafting Neapolitan pizza the right way.
Both Jessie and Robert have made Focoso their full-time job. As their first time running a business and with two very young children at home, the couple is going all in on Focoso and their strategy is to serve authentic Neapolitan pizza, while still offering a unique selection of toppings to suit any taste.
The Focosita pizza is their house creation. Topped with jalapeno, ricotta, mozzarella, sausage, cherry peppers, basil, and pepperoncini, the $12 pie packs a spicy kick. The couple also offers specials like a stout-soaked brat pizza or a salmon, alfredo, and thyme pie. However, Robert recommends any pizza snob try the traditional Margherita ($8) to get a true sense of what they can do.
Always using whole milk mozzarella and Caputo pizza flour is just the start of the couple's commitment to quality. It's the spiced up signature sauce, though, that Robert says really grabs his customers. The couple says their recipes have been evolving since they were making pies on their pizza stone at home and now, after eight months of running the truck, they say their pizza has evolved drastically into a product they're very proud of.
Earlier this month at First Friday, it seemed the crowds agreed. Robert says the couple sold about 250 pizzas in four hours. Although each pizza only takes about 5 minutes to make from start to finish, Robert says the couple has had to learn how to streamline the process to accommodate growing demand.
However, it isn't all fun and tasty pizza for the Galls. Operating during the summer, with Blue roaring at over 400 degrees (though the stone itself gets up to 800), proved to be an unexpectedly demanding on the couple physically. Jessie Gall says they had to wear special cooled vests made to prevent heat stroke.
"We didn't anticipate what it would be like to be in a small tin box in Arizona in the summer," he says. "Every metal surface was scorching hot and all of the air movement in the world couldn't make a difference."
Another unexpected challenge has come with using social media to draw attention to their truck. Robert Gall explains that he's part of the "older generation" and adapting to a business model that's heavily reliant on Twitter and Facebook to get the word out has taken some getting used to. He says they're still "growing into" the DIY marketing style.
Following the footsteps of Pizza People Pub, who they say have been mentors throughout their food truck's existence, the Galls hope to turn their truck into a brick and mortar restaurant. Sticking with the name Focoso, which means fiery or sultry in Italian (the couple warns to be careful when Googling the name), they envision a dimly-lit jazz lounge with live music and, of course, their Neapolitan pies. Until then though, the couple is proud to serve their pizza from the Focoso truck.
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