Trucking Out

The “R Truck” prepares Italian food made with recipes that have been passed down for generations. Also, it’s got breakfast burritos.

There are few families in Monterey County that have fed more people than the Bozzo/Filice family. Hailing from the Calabria region of Italy, these families have shared their collective passions for family, faith, and original recipes with countless area residents for decades.

What started in 1975 with one standalone Italian restaurant right off Highway 68 in Salinas eventually grew into four different family-owned brick-and-mortar eateries stretching along the Salinas Valley, ranging from Angelina’s, located in the Toro Park neighborhood (est. 2007) to Luigi’s in Gonzales (est. 2014). Couple those with the widely popular Pastabilities (2016) and Bagel Corner (1996) concepts in the middle of Salinas, and you’re all but guaranteed to have tasted some of their age-old family recipes at some point or another.

However, on the off-chance you haven’t, the family business has spawned yet another creative concept you may soon find parked at a location near you.

“People are always asking us if we can open a new restaurant in a new location,” says family matriarch Gina “Nonna” Filice. “But it’s very hard to do that, especially with all that’s been going on,” she adds. “So we think our truck is a convenient way for us to share some of our favorite dishes from all our concepts to even more customers.”

The vision for “our” truck has now become a reality in the form of the R Truck Food Truck. (Our = R, get it?)

You can think of it as a greatest hits playlist on wheels – the menu represents some of the most popular dishes from the existing restaurants. There will be breakfast burritos from Bagel Corner alongside blackened chicken alfredo, calamari strips, customizable homemade pastas a la Pastabilities, as well as soups and salads.

“This truck is a representation of our history,” says Mike Filice, R Truck co-owner and the operator of Bagel Corner in Salinas. “It operates as a versatile mobile kitchen and we can serve a variety of our favorite Italian dishes from all of our concepts.”

The truck’s logo uses the colors from the Italian flag, shaped as an “R”, and includes the famous Italian “boot” in the middle. The logo represents all things important to the family-run business: from their heritage in Calabria (located at the toe of the boot) to their present-day family traditions.

“We like to feed people. That’s at the core of what we do as a family,” says Gina, a native of Italy and career restaurateur whose primary role in the business now is to watch all her grandchildren.

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It’s a role she cherishes. “I’m just ‘Nonna’ now,” she says.

Creating the R Truck was a family endeavor that included members beyond those currently operating restaurants. Family members like Aaron Besaw (Ralph Bozzo’s son-in-law) who only recently joined the family business and is now managing truck operations. Given that he and his wife are now expecting their sixth child, Besaw knows a thing or two about feeding people.

“We have created a pretty incredible kitchen on wheels,” Besaw says. “It’s a family collaboration with a menu that we know people will love.”

In addition to their standard, staple menu items for normal business functions, the R Truck will be available to cater private parties and other special events, for which they will offer customizable menu options… as long as those options stick to Italian cuisine, of course.

“This truck is equipped to do everything from deep-fried calamari to sandwiches, pastas and grilled steaks,” Mike says, “but we are proud of our Italian heritage, and our family recipes will continue to be the focus.”

The R Truck recently set up shop in the Star Market parking lot for a trial run, and there’s more coming.

So when you find yourself with a craving for meatballs, keep an eye out for the R.

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