Frankie Fettuccine is an Oakville based food truck that majors in hearty pasta dishes and inventive takes on Italian favourites like the osso buco-inspired gnocchi poutine, and arancini balls – the oh-so delicious, Sicilian street food standard.
Since launching the truck in the summer of 2013, truck owners Frank Mazzonetto and Anthony Maniccia – both trained chefs with a combined total of 20 years experience in the restaurant industry – have picked up best new truck award at Awestruck 2013 and developed a loyal following of foodies. I caught up with Frank Mazzonetto on the phone and he told me how all the magic started.
“Well, Anthony and I had started a catering company and people were receiving the food really, really well. And you know, to open a restaurant is really expensive. With the popularity of food trucks rising, we thought we’d go that way. There was only one other Italian truck on the road. Nobody was really doing fresh pasta. We said: ‘Let’s knock their socks off.”
The concept evolved to become a gourmet, Italian food truck serving inventive spins on traditional dishes: “Obviously, we love pasta,” Frank says. “There’s a lot of places that don’t do it justice. We just wanted to do like classic, Italian dishes, adapted for the street food environment. We’re chefs, so trying to bring chefs attitude, chefs menu and chef’s technique to the scene.”
Which can’t be easy, with people on short lunch break, waiting expectantly outside the outside the window. Luckily, fresh pasta cooks fast: “A lot of people don’t realize you can cook a great pasta dish very quickly if you’re well prepared. We prepare our ingredients in a way that allows us to execute a dish from start to finish in about two minutes. We put it right out of the pan, into the vessel and hand it to the customer.”
What are the most popular menu items? The osso bucco gnocchi poutine is their signature dish. People go crazy for the lobster mac and cheese when it’s available. And the arancini, deep fried rice balls “go really, really well” too, says Frank. The truck uses organic ingredients where possible, keeps things seasonal and changes the menu based on what looks great at the market that morning: “We don’t write the menu first – first we go find the ingredients.”
Asked to reveal any other secrets to the truck’s success, Frank says social media is key: “Besides giving people great food, the biggest part of our business is having a crazy social media presence. We are constantly Facebooking and Tweeting. It’s the biggest free advertising you can get. It’s crucial to this business.”
Frank says the company also does full service catering. So while he expects the truck will be doing some streetside service this winter, like many others, they’ll be busy with private events. And how is it all working out?: “We’re really happy with the way the truck and the food have been received. And people are even saying nice things about Anthony and myself. We’re working really hard. We’re really proud of what we’ve accomplished so far.”