By ALICE GABRIEL - August 3, 2012
The food truck trend has been slow to take off in Westchester. We’re a car culture, and most food trucks rely on foot traffic. This summer, though, a few mobile entrepreneurs have set their parking brakes in strategic spots around Westchester County and are dishing out some very fine food.
Signs along the entrance road at Harbor Island Park in Mamaroneck lead the way to the sea-green, Cajun-Creole-themed Johnson Truck parked near the public beach: “Almost there, y’all.” Gary Ptak, in the persona of Chef Johnson, wears little round sunglasses and holds forth with an approximate Louisiana accent; he also makes a downright delicious lobster cheeseburger ($12) that leaves just the right amount of fat on your fingers.
The truck is pasted with signs and slogans, and decorated with little monkey-and-macaroni decals. A bobblehead lobster named Jazzy greets patrons, many of whom are children in flip-flops who favor Mac-an-Cheese Johnson (“ooey-gooey, & made juss for you-eey,” $6); all-beef hot dogs on whole wheat buns topped with “Onions and Friends” ($7); and frozen fruit pops ($2).
Mr. Ptak, who studied neither acting nor culinary arts (he attended Tulane University, in New Orleans) is nonetheless a fine actor and an excellent cook. His spicy chili ($10) is spiked with Captain Lawrence Kölsch, brewed in Elmsford; the tiny sweet-potato pies ($4) are dotted with whipped cream and decorated with pecans. Other specialties include Eggplant “Parma-Johnson,” jambalaya, seafood gumbo and andouille dogs.
On weekends, patrons can carry their takeout to a wooden deck with chairs and tables overlooking the water.
Come winter, Mr. Ptak keeps things moving with Super Bowl and Mardi Gras parties, weddings and bar mitzvahs. “We out an’ about,” he says.
Johnson Truck, 1 Harbor Island Road, Mamaroneck, (914) 488-4369, from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Credit cards accepted. Follow on Facebook and Twitter and atchefjohnson.com. Metered parking on nearby streets; park entry fees are $6 on weekdays and $8 on weekends.
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