by Mary Cokenour
Admittedly, I am a pizza snob; born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, in an Italian neighborhood, I know great pizza . . . not good, great.
I enjoy Chicago style every now and then, but New York pizza is the ultimate for real pizza lovers.
Imagine the culture shock I went through, moving to Utah, and finding out; well, what is this stuff they’re calling pizza?
Now, I understand if you were raised on this type, had never been out of the state, or if you had, never tried pizza elsewhere; then you wouldn’t know different, right? I did warn you that I am a pizza snob.
Making it at home was my only choice, until now; a food wagon showed up in Blanding, November 2015, serving fresh made pizza from a wood burning oven.
Papa Dave’s Pizza Wagon is owned and operated by David Ludwig; teacher of pre-engineering and digital media at San Juan High School. I asked Dave, “Why the wood burning oven?”, and his answer was plain and simple, “I saw it and wanted one.”
His story is one of inspiration to any who have a dream and intend on making it happen.
Here it is in his own words, “I’d always wanted to be involved in the food industry, but I was too young, poor or scared to try anything.
I had basically given up on any restaurant dreams until the Food Trucker movement caught my attention. The idea of a bare-bones, minimalistic food service on wheels was too fun and crazy to ignore. I felt like it was something that I could handle, something that I could build myself.”
Each step of the process was a learning experience for Dave, from welding to masonry; he converted an old camper trailer into the food wagon itself.
He consulted with local building contractors and suppliers about the construction of the oven; scoured classifieds for restaurant equipment, and played with many a recipe.
Trial and error were the rule for the pizza making – creating the dough and finding the correct thickness; placement within the oven to bake thoroughly without burning; what ingredients worked as toppings.
Then came the choice of wood to be used; which burned to the proper temperature (900 degrees) and had a longer mainstay; which woods didn’t place a scent or taste into the dough.
Dave was very proud to say that he purchased a brand new chain saw and cuts his own wood; currently he is playing with fruit woods.
Ingredient wise, he buys local only and primarily from Blue Mountain Meats in Monticello; he knows he’s getting quality products there.
He makes his own dough; and I can tell you, for a fact, that David Ludwig loves what he does, and puts that love into his food.
So, let’s get to this pizza made with love; by the ordering window are the menus with descriptions of each type of pizza offered.
Dave first rolls out the dough mound, then works it out by hand to the size required. Transferring it to the toppings station, oil is brushed along the edges; sauce (red or white) is spread out, then the cheese and other ingredients as needed.
The pizza is then placed into the 900 degree, wood burning oven; moved from place to place, during the 10 to 15 minute cooking time, to make sure the crust is perfectly browned and crispy; and that the cheese is melted and toppings hot.
The taste is incredible; thin crust, toppings just right for each piece; the edge crust is baked all the way through; definitely not like the doughy mess found in too thick crusts not properly baked.
Ah, but here’s the real test, the cold pizza test; Dave’s pizza passed with flying colors, just as delicious cold as it was hot.
Wait, there’s more; he also has a dessert pizza with a choice of raspberry, strawberry, blueberry or apple plus brown sugar and a cream cheese topping.
Close your eyes while eating a piece of this, and you can actually imagine you’re eating real cheesecake; how awesome it that!?!
How to find Papa Dave’s Pizza Wagon? On Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/Papa-Daves-Pizza-Wagon-779358992173467), Like the page and make sure to click on “Get Notifications of Status Posts”.
Usually the wagon is located at the 4-way stop in Blanding; Friday and Saturday nights from 4pm to 9pm (ish); but check Facebook for updates.
Dave does catering also, so if you have a special event, message him, and he will work out all the details with you.
We purchased three pizzas and a dessert pizza for a most wonderful family fun night with our friends, Richard Watkins and his daughter, Amy.
Richard told stories of the area as we put together a multi-piece puzzle…no phones, no television…just friendship, love and fun. Think about doing this with your own family and friends; it’s good for the mind, body and soul; and don’t forget to buy from Papa Dave’s!!!
Papa Dave’s Pizza Wagon: facebook.com/Papa-Daves-Pizza-Wagon-779358992173467