ITHACA, N.Y.—If you don’t know already, Adelina’s food truck sits at 311 College Avenue, specializing in Roman-style pizza with a special crust fermented over a 48- to 72-hour period and topped with local ingredients.
Toby Buggiani owned a Brooklyn-based restaurant that closed due to COVID, moving his pizza operation into an old truck and retrofitting his ovens after he and his wife moved to Ithaca.
Born and raised in Rome and a 40-year vegetarian, Buggiani is fluent in Italian and travels back frequently to visit his father.
“That’s the flavor profile of pizza that I grew up with and have been most attached to,” he said, explaining his pizza roots.
The truck is open from 4 to 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, by Buggiani or one of his two staff people. All of the pizzas that Adelina’s serves are plant-based, vegetarian or vegan, using Numu vegan mozzarella, and the menu can be viewed here.
Training with prominent pizza chefs in Italy, Buggiani developed a long process using a 70-year-old “mother dough” as the leavening agent for the 72-hour fermentation process for his pizza crust dough. After the fermentation occurs, the dough becomes more flavorful and digestible as the complex carbohydrates are converted into simple sugars.
Though the truck is outfitted with a small oven, the bulk of the baking takes place at a private bakery space in Lansing that Buggiani owns. “I knew that I was going to need a lot more room to make my ingredients,” he said.
After being baked at the bakery, the crusts are transferred to the truck to be finished in whatever fashion customers desire.
“Like many restaurant owners, we all tried to figure out at the beginning of the pandemic how to pivot,” Buggiani said. “At the time, I was thinking that probably a safe way to continue to serve food was to use a truck so there would be no indoor dining.”
Though the truck lives on College Ave., Buggiani does occasionally serve events — the most recent one being Porch Fest, with a tent and two smaller, lightweight ovens.
Though Collegetown is typically a fairly busy place with lots of passersby, College Avenue has been under construction for a while (and is for the foreseeable future), which has made the pizza truck harder for people to get to.
To combat this, Buggiani said, Adelina’s recently started working with Ithaca To-Go to reach a broader audience, which has helped bridge the gaps.