An insider's view of the Connecticut dining scene
Aug 15, 2014
10:33 AMThe Connecticut Table
Best Food Trucks in Connecticut, Part 2; On-the-Go Goes Gourmet
In the beginning of July, Connecticut Magazine served up a sampling of some of the best gourmet food trucks on the road. It was just in time for the inaugural Connecticut Food Truck Festival, held at the North Haven Fairgrounds on July 19 and 20. Thousands of people swarmed the event, waiting in long winding lines to sample a selection of Connecticut food trucks. The public response surprised everyone, particularly the area police, who were not aware that the event was going to take place.
The incredible turnout for the festival proves just how crazy Connecticut is for food trucks, and it makes perfect sense to us. These mobile kitchens are serving up quality food akin to that of some of the best restaurants, but at a much lower price point.
Another Food Truck Festival will be held on the New London waterfront this Saturday, August 16, from 5 to 9 p.m. Click here for more information on the event.
As soon as we published our first round-up of food trucks, we knew we had missed a bunch of equally delicious mobile options in the state. That prompted us to go for food trucks round two. Below are a delicious selection of trucks you can find around the state. Enjoy!
Husband-and-wife team Joshua and Jillian Moskites—both of whom studied in the culinary program at Johnson and Wales—decided three years ago to start up their own food truck dedicated to gourmet grilled cheese and The Whey Station was born. Focused on using quality ingredients, including from local sources when possible—such as breads baked by Fabled Foods of Deep River—the Whey Station creates melty masterpieces that are a long way from the same old grilled cheese. Some treats: The Nola mixes munster spicy Andouille sausage, sautéed peppers and onions and a homemade chipotle sauce; the Buffalo Soldier features blue cheese spread, buffalo chicken, celery and pickled jalapeños; and the Croque Madame includes ham, fried egg and bechamel cheese sauce. The "basic" monger is even a blend of five cheeses. The Whey Station is based in Middletown, but often can be found in Bushnell Park as well as special events and concerts around Hartford year round—upcoming locations are usually posted at the beginning of each week on Facebook and Twitter. The Whey Station was also recently featured on "Connecticut Style" in the "Food Truck Friday" segment.
For a doughnut that’s unlike any other, you don’t want to miss the traffic-cone-orange truck rolling down the streets of New Haven. Founder Anthony “Tony” Poleshek Jr.—in a vibrant orange fedora and a company t-shirt that reads, “Happiness Squared”—is the proud co-owner of the new Orangeside Donuts truck. The fresh, baked-daily square doughnuts come in a variety of flavors—from old-time classics like glazed and powdered, to wild confections like Mounds and cheesecake Danish. Poleshek says he likes to stroll down the candy aisle for sugary inspirations and two of his creations, Snicker’s bar—peanuts, chocolate and caramel on top of a doughnut—and Samoa Girl Scout cookie—toasted coconut with drizzles of chocolate and caramel—are just some of the major crowd-pleasers. Just one bite of this unconventionally shaped doughnut, and you’ll swear off round doughnuts forever.
You can find the red 1946 International Harvester fire truck parked on the streets of the city, but it won’t be putting out any fires—owner Frank Bernardo repurposed the truck to fit an imported Italian wood-fired, brick oven. For classic, New Haven-style pizza, go for a slice of margarita, or try one of Bernardo’s specialties like spinach and sausage, shrimp florentine or clam casino. The tomato and basil pizza—thin crust topped with fresh sliced tomatoes, mozzarella, chopped garlic and black pepper—is absolutely mouthwatering, but the mash potato pizza—with caramelized onion and bacon—is a definite fan favorite. And no need to juggle with your pizza on the sidewalk—wooden tables are set up right beside the truck and jazz music plays from radio, a step-up from the typical food truck dining experience.
Polish native, Ela Nogas, opened Pierogies on Wheels this year and is serving up authentic Polish pierogies with her daughter, Magda. Using only quality ingredients, this mother-daughter team cuts, fills and pinches every pierogie for a true homemade taste. The dumplings, made from a light, thin dough and stuffed with fresh vegetables, cheese or meat, stay true to the traditional Polish recipe. The three classic varieties—potato and cheese, ground pork, and sauerkraut and mushroom—are served sizzling hot and can be topped with your choice of either sautéed onions, sour cream or crispy bacon bits. So for authentic handmade Polish pierogies, make sure to track down Pierogies on Wheels.
From Chicken N’ Waffles to Coffee N’ Donuts, the Hardcore Sweet Cupcakes Truck has numerous novelty cupcakes to choose from. Co-owner Nicole Braddock, the mastermind behind the cupcakes, creates a variety of wild flavors and the wacky names, like a corn bread and pork Hungry Man or spinach and pea Popeye. The most popular cupcake—as hard as it is to believe we can narrow it down to just one—is The “D”: a flavorful red velvet cake with cookie crust and chocolate chips baked in and topped with a rich cream cheese frosting and a cookie on top. Hardcore Sweet Cupcakes also makes delicious vegan and gluten-free treats like a rum-infused coconut and pineapple Jimmy Buffet cupcake. For adult hardcore cupcake lovers, the bakery makes a number of “cupcake cocktails.” Try a Cosmopolitan-flavored Samantha Jones or go for the Irish Car Bomb—a chocolate cake with Jameson filling and topped with Bailey’s Irish Cream frosting.
Vegetarian and vegans out there probably already know about this rolling gem, but gmonkey should be on everyone’s radar. The food offered up at this mobile kitchen (which is eco-friendly running on bio-diesel) is delicious regardless of your dietary preferences. (As non-vegans, we’d recommend the Downward Dog Blackbean Burrito (left) to anyone anytime.) Award-winning vegetarian chef Mark Shadle and Ami Beach launched gmonkey in 2010, and have been bringing their “farm2street” ethos to hungry patrons ever since. The truck is based out of Durham and a regular at the Billings Forge Farmers Market in Hartford and similar sustainable markets around the state. The G Fries are a must try—golden-fried sweet potatoes served with smoked ketchup. The Grilled G is also worth a taste. A vegan grilled cheese may seem inherently backward to non-vegans but the Daiya cheese served with basil pesto, caramelized onions on Shale Farm bread is uniquely delicious.
Fair season is beloved in Connecticut because of the memories it evokes—farm animals, tractor pulls, carnival rides and fried food. The New England Apple Fritter truck has been part of that nostalgia for more than 40 years, offering fairgoers a little piece of (sugar-coated) home. The business has been family-owned and -operated since 1973. Fritters are made on the premises using the same recipe originated by current owner Diana Flower’s parents when they first began selling the treats. This concession truck sticks to what it’s good at. They’re not trying to reinvent the wheel here, but when the wheel tastes this good—an airy fritter with apple undertones, served hot and topped with sugar—why would you want to? Flower, who runs the truck with her husband, is working on a frozen fritter as a wholesale product. They set up at 12 fairs throughout the year, including the Goshen Fair (the event that started it all), which takes place over Labor Day weekend. Come by and try these New England treats for yourself.
The Bounty Truck is new on the food truck scene this summer. Opened just over two months ago, the modestly decorated black truck has been making the rounds at Fairfield County farmers' markets, serving up quality all-beef grass-fed burgers. The menu may be short with just a handful of burgers available at an event but that’s only because they’ve just gotten their legs under them. Chef Chris Vacca says he plans to put more specials on the menu including a salmon burger and lamb burger. Currently the team is offering up their take on an all-American burger, the Bounty Burger, complete with all the fixings—lettuce, tomato, onion and special sauce. They also do a Bacon Blue Burger (left) with bacon and blue cheese, and a Vegetarian Burger, but Vacca says the most popular item is typically the Bordelaise Burger, which comes piled with caramelized onions, aged gruyere and Malbec butter. That particular burger, which Vacca has been making for about 12 years at different restaurants, epitomizes the Bounty Truck’s food ethos—elevated American burgers made from the best ingredients. Get your burger with hand-cut fries on the side.
Christophe Ensenat, a classically trained French chef, sets up his bright yellow truck on the streets of Fairfield almost every day serving a slew of sweet and savory crepes to hungry passerby. His delicate whole wheat crepes are filled with delicious combinations like ham and mozzarella cheese; French brie, fresh apples and turkey or ham; Nutella and bananas; or chocolate and shredded coconut. Every couple of days he adds two specials to the menu, a sweet and a savory option. From his rolling kitchen, Ensenat has introduced many residents to crepes for the first time and says he enjoys opening people’s minds. He opted for a food truck over a traditional restaurant because he likes to see different places and serve different people. One day he’d like to open a restaurant but for now he’s happy on the truck. Most days Cristophe’s Crepes can be found on Post Road in Fairfield between 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Vitals: (646) 596-6879
In his second year in business Paul Mannion has developed a following amongst Connecticut foodies who flock to his brightly painted Danbury burrito truck, the Green Grunion, to enjoy California-inspired burrito perfection. The truck features addictively good San Diego-style burritos, which Mannion explains are precision dishes with select, carefully prepared ingredients that are tightly wrapped in a smaller, slightly grilled tortilla. Mannion refers to his burrito-making process as “rolling n’ slingin’.” Whatever you call it, Mannion’s burritos are rolled-up works of culinary art. Try the Pollo (Bell & Evans chicken, pico de gallo, guacamole, cheese and crème), the Cali (marinated steak, French fries, pico de gallo, guacamole, cheese and crème) or Veggie (bell peppers, onions, and mushrooms pico de gallo, guacamole, cheese and crème). The Green Grunion is open for lunch most days, and sometimes for breakfast, it can be found most often at Lake Kenosia Park (10 Christopher Columbus Ave., Danbury), but the truck’s Twitter or Facebook feed for daily updates on hours and the day's location.
This feature was researched and written by Connecticut Magazine summer intern Monica Zielinski, Kate Hartman, Erik Ofgang, Ray Bendici and Douglas P. Clement. Send feedback to email@example.com.Best Food Trucks in Connecticut, Part 2; On-the-Go Goes Gourmet