Can a food truck deliver a fine dining experience? Polpo Pizza certainly thinks so, and we agree. Turning local, organic ingredients into creatively crafted gourmet pies is their unabashed passion, and the appetite for epicurean pizza is catching on quickly. To find out the inspiration driving the truck, we turned to co-owner Danni Bleil, and were treated to a lesson in following your most delicious dreams. This month’s b-Casual takes “meals on wheels” to the next level!

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“Two and a half years ago, Tom and I were riding our motorcycle through the back roads of New Jersey when we stopped to eat what turned out to be the best pizza we’d ever had in our lives,” explains Danni Bleil. “We had an epiphany. We looked at each other and agreed we had to start making pizza!”

Inspired by the business model of the pizza truck-turned-brick and mortar they had seen in New Jersey, owners Danni Bleil and Tom Baril embarked on their new journey. They purchased a vintage ride out of Michigan. Then they sent the truck to South Carolina for custom fabrication. Baril, an artist, had the vision for the truck’s aesthetic, which included an Italian wood-burning oven and reclaimed wood from Sarasota Architectural Salvage.

Before leaving their home in Buck’s County, Pennsylvania to start a new life as pizza makers in sunny Sarasota, Bleil, a trained chef, headed to New York City to study under Roberto Caporuscio, a master pizzaiolo and President of APN America (Associazione Pizzaiuoli Napoletani America). Polpo Pizza gets its name from the Italian word meaning “octopus,” explains Bleil. “We wanted something oceanic and whimsical. If you see the logo, it all makes sense.”

Polpo’s priorities are quality, creativity, and supporting local businesses. You could say they are obsessed with their pies, getting involved in every step of the pizza making process. Bleil says she personally shops for and hand culls many of the ingredients from the best local resources, such as Geraldson Farm, Sweetgrass Farms, Aloe Organics, and Honeyside Farms for fresh produce, sausage from Mazzaro’s Market in St. Pete, and local honey, which they infuse with home grown hot peppers.

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The pizzas are crafted with attention to flavor profiles, much like a chef creates a dish for their restaurant. Using imported Italian flour and a sourdough culture, they build the foundation. And because not just any tomatoes will do, Bleil had a local distributor bring in organic Italian tomatoes from California for their sauce. She tops the pizzas with Lucini organic extra virgin olive oil and house-made cheese from organic dairy. Really. Bleil hand stretches the mozzarella and makes the ricotta cheese herself.

With all of this attention to detail, Polpo wants to ensure the curated flavors won’t be lost on your palate. “We don’t offer the build your own pizza experience like most people are used to. We want the consumer to  experience our pizza as we intended it be experienced,” explains Bleil. Spoken like a true chef. She continues, “Of course we are happy to create pizzas for a special event or private party based on personal preferences.”

You won’t see the pizza truck permanently parked and open for business. Instead, you’ll have to check the calendar on their website to find its location. Actually, there is another option: you can book the truck yourself and have your friends over for the most uniquely catered party around (read about our experience at right).

While it requires a little planning, take it from this New Yorker, you’re going to want to experience a Polpo Pizza. (941) 993-5263 polpopizzaco.com

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PORTABLE PIZZA PARTY

drawn truck The Polpo Pizza truck will pull up and prepare a private party for you and your guests. There’s even a tap on that truck, so you can enjoy authentic Neapolitan pizza with suds from local breweries.

FEMME ROUGE recently hired the company to cater a teen’s birthday party, and the experience was beyond our (high) expectations. Foodie families and traditional pizza lovers alike were impressed with the flavor combinations, like Spicy Sausage and Peppers, and Delicioso (both pictured below). Choose five pizzas for your party from their menu, and don’t forget dessert – gourmet smores fired in their pizza oven. What could be better than vanilla marshmallows melted on top of graham crackers to golden brown perfection, then drizzled with Nutella and sprinkled with crushed hazelnuts? Wow.