Climb aboard the pizza bus for a slice of heaven

Upper Hutt Leader - - FRONT PAGE - MATTHEWTSO

There’s noth­ing half-baked about a cou­ple’s pizza bus, which is taking wood­fired good­ness to the masses.

Co-owner Jane Martin ac­knowl­edges there is a great tra­di­tion of ser­vices run out of busses – health clin­ics, den­tists’ surg­eries and li­braries to name but a few.

While To­bilo’s Pizza Bus, which she runs with her hus­band Tom, might not be at the top end of es­sen­tial bus-borne ser­vices, it def­i­nitely had its place, she said.

‘‘It’s a food truck at the end of the day, but the way [food trucks] have taken off in the States lately, they’ve shown food trucks don’t just have to be chips and hot dogs. It’s about pro­vid­ing better food at a better price to peo­ple. Plus, every­body loves pizza, so yes, it is es­sen­tial.’’

The To­bilo’s bus has been rolling around Up­per Hutt for a year.

About a fifth of the bus – a 1989 Mit­subishi Fuso, is oc­cu­pied by a full­sized wood-fired stone pizza oven. The bus also has an on­board kitchen where the dough is pre­pared and piz­zas as­sem­bled.

Tom is the driver and works the oven, while Jane pre­pares the dough and makes the piz­zas. Fam­ily mem­bers and lo­cal col­lege stu­dents take cus­tomers’ or­ders.

Jane, who used to co-own Ital­ian restau­rant Cosa Nos­tra on Welling­ton’s Ti­nakori Rd, said the bus was a way to get back into hos­pi­tal­ity af­ter hav­ing their son Toby – who To­bilo’s is named af­ter. The cou­ple had al­ways en­joyed mak­ing pizza at home and their first idea was to look for an oven that could be towed on a trailer.

Within weeks they found what was to be their new bus, al­ready fit­ted out on Trade Me.

To­bilo’s has a reg­u­larly ro­tat­ing menu with a few per­ma­nent crowd favourites. Jane said she likes ex­per­i­ment­ing with new flavour com­bi­na­tions, but gen­er­ally keeps things sim­ple and un­crowded on her piz­zas.

‘‘Not all piz­zas have to look like a Jack­son Pol­lock!’’

One of the few com­pro­mises she makes on her menu is the pres­ence of a Hawai­ian pizza. While pineap­ple on a pizza is not her favourite, pun­ters just keep com­ing back for it, she says.

To­bilo’s Pizza Bus is cel­e­brat­ing its first birth­day on April 28 at Aston Nor­wood in Kaitoke, Up­per Hutt.

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