Among the music, chatter and engine noise at the 2023 Syracuse Food Truck Battle on Saturday, one powerful voice rose above the din.
“Yo, yo, yo, I got that dough!”
“Four dollars a slice, you can’t go wrong, Sarge!”
“Nobody forgets the Wolf!”
It can be tough to stand out at a festival that bills itself as “the largest gathering of food trucks in CNY history.”
After all, the event features 55 food trucks from Syracuse, Rochester, Utica, Binghamton and beyond, with three other trucks specializing in pizza as well.
But the Wolf’s Patio Pizza crew had a distinct advantage: the big personality and booming voice of their co-owner and operator Wolfgang Dwyer.
Between slinging pies, the “Wolf” worked the crowd like a carnival barker on the NYS Fair Midway.
He complimented couples walking by (“She makes you look good, buddy!”), whipped out his best Donald Duck impression for kids, and welcomed every customer with an energetic “Hey! Howzit goin?”
Pair that charisma with a good slice and a bit of swagger.
“I think I make the best pizza around,” Dwyer told syracuse.com, while stretching and tossing dough in the air. “Well, my father made the best pepperoni pizza.”
Dwyer amps up the flavor on his standard cup-and-char pepperoni pie by adding pepperoncinis and finishing the crust with a generous brush of oil and sprinkle of flaked salt. He calls that pie “The Wolf,” naturally.
“People always compare [the crust] to eating a pretzel,” said Wolf’s Patio Pizza co-owner Linda Dwyer, his wife.
The family also has a secret weapon. In the early 2000s, Linda’s brother Tony Firizio owned a wood-fired pizza joint called Movino’s in Armory Square, long before the era of Nick’s Tomato Pie, Peppino’s or Apizza Regionale. He later ran Brooklyn Italian Eatery at Great Northern Mall.
“So I’m the brains behind the operation,” Firizio told syracuse.com, as the trio chuckled.
Wolf’s Patio Pizza started as a fun retirement project. Wolfgang built a wood-fired pizza oven in his family’s backyard and hosted backyard pizza parties every weekend.
“Our friends kept saying, ‘You gotta take this on the road,’” Linda said. So they did.
Customers at the festival swarmed their fire-engine red food truck all afternoon.
“I think it has to do with the oven and the dough,” Wolf said. “It really has a lot to do with fresh ingredients.”
Tasty pizza, sure, but also a slice of good, old-fashioned show business.
(Find Wolf’s Patio Pizza at 600 Gertrude Ave., next Friday, May 19 from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. They post their weekly schedules on Street Food Finder.)