Durham: Pizza Rolls Onto Food Scene

Mike Hackerd and Becky Cascio, owners of the Pie Pushers food truck, worked at Watts Grocery.

by JOHN ROTTET | TheDurhamNews.com

Mike Hackerd slices up a specialty pizza inside the Pie Pushers food truck while Becky Cascio, the other co-owner, takes an order at the window.

I’ve said this before, but I’ll do it again – I know pizza.

I grew up in New Haven, Conn., where yes people, pizza was invented. Don’t challenge me on this.

We Connecticutians and those from the Tri-State area enjoy a thin pie with such sophisticated toppings as mashed potatoes and bacon, fried eggplant and chicken, or perhaps a white pizza with clams and garlic. My personal favorite is sautéed spinach, portobello mushrooms and extra cheese.

Pie Pushers is one of the newest additions to Durham’s prestigious food truck fleet, and owners Becky Cascio and Mike Hackerd are bringing a little piece of New England home to me with their funky and eclectically topped pizzas, made to order in a hot food truck.

Mike Hackerd and Becky Cascio, owners of the Pie Pushers food truck, worked at Watts Grocery.

The duo met through friends but also worked together at Watts Grocery, and like most food entrepreneurs in town, appreciate what’s local, seasonal and therefore tasty.

Its not so much that they live and die by the slice (although Hackerd worked on the pizza dough recipe with his mother for 10 years), as that pizza seemed to be one of the few food niches not yet filled around here – especially on wheels.

Their slices are one-sixth of a 16-inch pie, and whole 16- and eight-inch pies are also available, Cascio said. They take orders ahead of time, but the wait will depend on the line. Prices range $3 to $4 per slice, and a plain cheese eight-inch pie starts at $6, with an extra $1 per topping.

They aspire to create “farm slices” where the pizza is made of toppings wholly from one farm – but this concept will evolve as their relationship with local farms tighten, and their schedule become more predictable. Look for Pie Pushers at the Durham Farmer’s Market for sure, and downtown around lunchtime during the week.

Cascio’s favorite combo so far is the “pace car” pizza, first on the menu with an olive oil base, fresh corn, basil, and jalapeños. All pies come with a foundation of olive oil, a traditional red sauce, or a pesto.She said Hackerd’s brussel sprout pesto is something to savor, so look for that as a base flavor from time to time.

Though a wood-fired crust is out of the question given the ventilation challenges a food truck presents, their signature these days is found in the crust – “hand-tossed, thin-crust,” said Cascio. A little crunchy but still chewy and not too flat. “Durham-style.”

Right now the truck can be found via Facebook and at Twitter: @piepushers. A website is in the works, , and orders can be phoned in to 901-0743.


The 2011 Doughman – where gluttony meets athleticism – comes once again May 28, and registration has already sold out. Those of you who were hoping to compete in the eat+run, eat+swim, eat+bike race will have to wait for next year to test your gag reflexes and fast-twitch muscles.

But it’s NOT too late to register for the DOUGHMAN hEArTs Durham post-race evening of more food, dancing and even entertainment at Motorco Music Hall downtown. Tickets are $15, and like the race itself, proceeds go to Durham-based charities. For more info and to buy tickets, visit www.doughman.org.

One might wonder how Durham’s food scene could possibly launch itself further into the taste stratosphere. Think of everything that’s been accomplished so far, and think about what is on the horizon now that The Cookery is up and running.

“Durham’s culinary incubator” is a certified kitchen space for rent by the hour, paired with a small food-business incubation program. Now it’ll be even easier for anyone with the dream of owning a food-related business to learn, train, and even operate such an endeavor. Visit www.durhamcookery.com for details. Membership applications are now being accepted.