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what's HOT with the SOLO Pizza Cart

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CD-101 DJ's rave about the pizza while the Solo Pizza Cart catered the American Express Financial Memorial Day Live Broadcast

An excellent article written by Jerry Miller of Pizza, an industry leading resource for news & information.

From mobile to sit-down restaurant,

EVO started their business with a SOLO Pizza cart!

The Solo Pizza cart was featured at a Stanley Cup Party.

Pie on the fly: Have wood-burning pizza cart, will travel

Thursday, December 27, 2001

By Marlene Parrish, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

Ultimate pizza delivery is the latest addition for the now-I've-seen-everything list. Picture this scenario: A mobile wood-burning pizza cart is driven to your place, fired up, and an expert cook makes pizzas to order at your party -- or ballgame, catering gig or tailgate picnic. It could be the next big thing.

There is such a cart -- called the Solo Pizza Cart -- and it's supposedly the only one of its kind in the world. Since it's such a small world, the unique cart is right here in Pittsburgh and is garaged at the Allison Park home of Phil Spano. Spano is the Director of Sales for Vengo 2000, the maker of the Solo Pizza Cart.

The Chatham Village Club board wanted to do something unusual to spice up its monthly happy hour. They contacted Spano. After negotiations and logistics were ironed out, he said, "You get your gang together and tell them that the pizza guy is on the way. My wife, Melinda, will come along, and we'll do the rest."

Spano's SUV appeared at sunset that Friday, trailing a red-roofed, yellow-bellied steel cart that looked partly like a popcorn machine, partly like a Good Humor truck. In front of Chatham Hall, he unhooked the cart from the trailer hitch and wheeled it into place. A crowd formed instantly, kibbitzing while Spano got into action.

Hardwood logs were stacked in the oven, the fire was started and, while the oven was coming up to temperature, pizza toppings were set into place. When the logs were glowing, they were pushed to the back of the oven, and the baking surface of the hearth was brushed of ashes. In about 30 minutes, the oven was ready for business.

"It's like a pottery kiln in there," says Spano. Constructed of stainless steel with a stone hearth, the cart's oven maintains a 900- to 1000-degree temperature and uses regular firewood -- about two to three logs an hour. It can accommodate three 8- to 10-inch pizzas at one time, which cook in something like 3 to 4 minutes.

The design of the pizza cart itself is a lesson in efficiency. The oven looks like a big washtub at counter height. The prep counter is to one side with a partitioned tray to hold mozzarella, tomato sauce, pepperoni and other pizza toppings. There's even a sink with two running hot water taps, their heat supplied by the fire in the oven.

Temperatures in the oven reach 900 to 1,000 degrees. (Steve Mellon, Post-Gazette)

The pizza got rave reviews from Villagers. "This is fantastic, fantastic," said Jim MacDonald.

"I can't believe it cooks so fast," said J.J. Bosley. Runners were kept busy delivering hot pizzas to those socializing indoors. "Do you suppose I could have another one with caramelized onions and anchovies?" asked Norm Samways.

The crust is at once crisp and chewy on the edges, and the toppings are browned and fragrant with wood smoke. The main problem is keeping up with demand. Spano made pizzas as fast as his hungry crowd could eat them. In the hands of an experienced cook, the cart can turn out something like 50 pizzas an hour.

The oven is Allegheny County Health Department-compliant, no easy thing in Pittsburgh, and it complies with fire department codes. The cart can be used year-round, indoors or outdoors for either commercial or residential use.

Spano's brother-in-law, Dave Heinlein of Columbus, OH, holds the patent on this demo pizza cart. When Heinlein first saw the cart in 1997, he was captivated by the concept. The demo cart was unveiled at the 1997 Vegas Pizza Show. It has won awards including Columbus, Ohio's Top Ten Pizza Award for three straight years, and it has been featured at festivals. Vengo received the final utility patent for the Solo Pizza Cart in March 2001, complementing the patents for the cart and oven design and oven materials which Vengo already owned. Now the small company is ready for production.

The brothers-in-law are in discussions with several national theme parks and are currently developing a plan for distribution and establishing franchises in the Western Pennsylvania area.

"All we need are the orders to build them," says Spano. "All units are custom made and cost under $20,000, depending on the size of the model. We are also looking for a partner in Western Pennsylvania to take the plans and build the carts."

"The ONE and ONLY Mobile Wood-Fired Pizza Oven"

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