By Phyllis Armstrong | Kensington.Patch.com
The line starts forming outside 6495 New Hampshire Ave. by 11:30 on a Friday morning in Hyattsville. The lunchgoers coming out of offices are eager to try what Thatsalata offers.
“This is going to be the first time that they’ve come here. The tenants in the building and the medical offices are really excited because there’s not a lot of places in the area to eat,” said Leslie Lloyd-Holmes, property manager at the New Hampshire Business Center.
Lloyd-Holmes invited Thatsalata Gourmet Food Truck, which routinely stops in Silver Spring, to visit the office building. Two registered nurses, who got the notice, are among the first in line.
“I like having a healthier choice. There’s not a lot of variety around here,” said Kim Simpson.
“I’ve already ordered the chicken burrito bowl, and I’ve tried the Vanilla-Dream Shake. It’s delicious,” added Renee Bullock.
The idea of giving people healthier, freshly-made lunches inspired Chef Giovanni Caporicci and Melanie Abdaw to get Thatsalata rolling in November of 2011.
Thatsalata stops in Silver Spring about every two weeks. The food truck also travels to Gaithersburg, Rockville and Bethesda. Caporicci and Abdaw hope more office complexes in Montgomery County will take advantage of their health-conscious food truck and catering business.
The Vanilla-Dream shake is a childhood favorite of Caporicci, who introduced it to Melanie on a trip back to California.
“She fell in love with it, and remembered that when we decided we were moving ahead with the food truck. She was like, ‘We’ve got to have the vanilla date shake on the truck,'” Caporicci said.
The shake he grew up getting at Hadley Fruit Orchards near Palm Springs is made with dates, vanilla ice cream and milk. Caporicci and Abdaw, a health and fitness devotee, experimented to come up with their recipe.
Thatsalata’s shake is lactose free, gluten free and cholesterol free. The average cost for chili and a shake, a salad and a soda or a sandwich and chips is $10.
“We formulated all of our menus and recipes around very light, health-conscious, low salt, and some gluten-free items,” said Caporicci. “If you ate our food five days in a row, it wouldn’t have a negative effect on you.”
Caporicci bakes the bread and roasts the meat for his French Turkey Torpedo sandwich. The truck’s sandwiches, salads, tacos and burrito bowls are all made to order. The chopped salad, vegetarian chili and Vanilla-Dream shake have been mentioned in Washingtonian magazine for their healthy ingredients. Thatsalata also received the most votes for favorite food truck in a Bethesda magazine poll.
“We’re very blessed to have some really nice critical acclaim from a lot of people who really support us, and through our followers on Facebook and Twitter,” said Caporicci.
Caporicci worked almost 30 years as a chef in upscale country clubs and luxury hotels. He credits Abdaw’s personality and experience as a former director of events and banquets for the warm bond Thatsalata has with its clients.
“She makes everybody feel like they are the most important person in the world. That is an unusual, valuable asset to have,” said Caporicci.
There are a lot of smiles and laughter as Abdaw takes orders and hands out lunches to the customers at the New Hampshire Business Center. Several of them let the property manager know they want Thatsalata to come back.
“I usually bring my lunch. I have food up in my office, right now,” said Sara Rosen, who works in constituent services for Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.). “Everybody needs a little change, and this sounded like fun.”
You can follow or contact Thatsalata on Facebook, Twitter or at FoodTruckFiesta. Thatsalata’swebsite also lists a schedule, truck hours and a menu.
Note: This is a food truck profile, not a review. Opinions expressed do not represent the ideas of the writer or Patch.