Sort-of Secret: Fuoco Mio, a food truck in the Stockyards serving up panini and wood-fired pizzas

Sort-of Secret: Fuoco Mio, a food truck in the Stockyards serving up panini and wood-fired pizzas

More Sort-of Secrets

The sort-of secret: Fuoco Mio, an Italian food truck in the Stockyards
You may have heard of it if: You’ve ever visited any of the nearby breweries
But you probably haven’t tried it because: It’s tough to find, tucked away in a maze of streets and industrial buildings

If you want to learn about Frank Adessi’s food truck, start by considering its name, which translates to “my fire.” It’s fitting, both literally and figuratively. The expression describes the fire inside of Adessi’s wood-burning pizza oven, where he makes Neapolitan pizza, along with his fiery passion for cooking, which he inherited from his mother, Vittoria.

Frank Adessi, fireside

The menu at Fuoco Mio is packed with Italian favourites: pizza, panini, veal, Italian sausage and arancini (with San Pellegrino and espresso to wash it all down). But Adessi makes beef and portobello burgers too. And he does it all from inside a converted camper surrounded by a trio of breweries—Shacklands, Rainhard, Junction—and tucked away in a lively stretch of the Stockyards (otherwise known as the Ale Yards, for obvious reasons).

Fuoco Mio is a family affair. Adessi’s wife, Jacquie, helps prep all of the food. When school’s out, his 10-year-old son, Michael, does a bunch of odd jobs, like taking out the garbage and delivering food to customers in the area. Michael wants to be in the restaurant business when he grows up, just like his dad. He loves running deliveries and gets to keep his tips. “One time I got $20,” he says. “I’m saving up all my money for when I’m older. I want to buy a G-Wagon—that’s my favourite car.”

Frank’s 10-year-old son, Michael. During the summer, he helps out with the family business

In a sense, the story of Fuoco Mio started in the early ’70s, when Adessi’s mother immigrated to Toronto from Calabria, Italy. She had learned to cook growing up on a farm along with 11 siblings. In the west-end home where Adessi grew up, he stood by his mother’s side in the kitchen, learning all of her recipes. From that point forward, he spent his life around food.

In 1989, at the age of 13, Adessi started working at Fiesta Farms. That’s where he learned about produce and the importance of fresh ingredients. Years later, he opened Scores, a massive sports bar at Earlscourt and St. Clair West, with his brothers Tony and Leo. But the business lasted only five years. After that, Adessi went back to work at Fiesta Farms.

Adessi built this shed to house his new stainless steel pizza oven

In 2018, while still working full-time at the grocery store, Adessi decided to open a weekend food pop-up in the Stockyards. The owner of Shacklands Brewing, Dave Watts, thought it would be good to serve food to people frequenting the breweries. So Adessi found an old six-by-eight-foot camper and started selling panini from it. His sandwiches were a hit: Adessi developed a cult following among brewery employees and patrons and residents in the immediate area.

When the pandemic hit, Adessi shut the food truck down and focused on his work at Fiesta Farms. As time passed, he kept hearing from his brewery buddies. They missed the food. They wanted him back. Here’s the short version of what happened next: Adessi quit his job, bought a 16-foot camper for $42,000, retrofitted it for cooking and—bada bing, bada boom—the latest iteration of Fuoco Mio was born.

Here’s the wood-burning oven, imported from Italy. To raise the money to buy it, Adessi sold his Yamaha V Star motorcycle

For his margherita pizza, Adessi uses handmade dough, tomatoes and basil from his garden, fresh mozzarella and house-made pesto. It cooks for about three minutes in his wood-burning oven, which gets up to 850 degrees Fahrenheit.

This burger is “famous,” according to Adessi. It includes an eight-ounce beef patty, tomatoes, arugula and sautéed onions, all mashed into a Calabrese bun ($12). The burger pairs particularly well with a farmhouse ale, Minuet, from Shacklands across the street.

The deep-fried rice balls, which Jacquie preps the night before, are a favourite among customers. She stuffs them with ground beef or portobello mushrooms, rice, and fresh peas ($12 for three). They’re sprinkled with parmesan and served in a puddle of tomato sauce.

And the panini is one of Adessi’s specialties. He starts with fresh focaccia from a local baker. He brushes the bread with olive oil and garlic seasoning, then it goes on the grill, which allows the garlic to char a bit, adding an extra depth of flavour. Then come the cured meats: soppressata, capocollo, prosciutto. And, finally, the provolone cheese ($12).

“I could have opened a spot downtown, served food to tourists,” Adessi says. “But being out here, in the Stockyards, people try the food and come all the way back again because they love it, not just because it’s convenient.” For now, Adessi has no plans to expand. “This is my comfort zone, my family taking care of this little thing. If I open something bigger, the quality of the food gets compromised,” he says. “This is a good size for me. I’m not here to get rich. I’m here to have a good time and live comfortably.”

100 Symes Road, Tuesday to Thursday, 11:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., and Friday to Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., @fuoco_mio_