Will De Filippis and Erica Pratico were not a bit fazed by the sounds of a thrash metal band playing the nearby mainstage as they served up fried cod and flank-steak tacos at Newburgh Illuminated this past June. The couple did, after all, name their food truck venture “Roadies Diner” to conjure a classic rock ’n’ roll vibe.
“We are both music lovers and spend our days on the road, so the name just fit,” Pratico shouts over the crowd. This SUNY New Paltz grad and Gannett alum switched gears a few years back to attend Manhattan’s French Culinary Institute (now the International Culinary Center). It was there she met instructor (and future love) De Filippis, a restaurant-industry veteran who learned his trade in top New York City kitchens.
The two joined forces in 2011 and launched a prepared-foods business under the tents of assorted area farmers’ markets. Last year, they moved to Cornwall and got their latest show on the road. It’s just a two-person operation, and that’s the way they’d like to keep it. “Everything needs to pass through my hands,” says De Filippis, who has been working in restaurants since he was 15 years old.
“This [truck] is a luxury suite for me,” continues the tattooed chef, whose previous ventures had him working in improvised kitchens. They’re available for private gigs, but you’ll usually find them parked at the corner of Broadway and Grand in Newburgh during the week where they get a “lively lunch crowd.” About one in five people are from Brooklyn like us,” says Pratico. “There are a lot of creative professionals coming into the area.”
Halal-style lamb and chicken over rice.
The couple’s menu caters to this creative clientele. Though once a Wonder Bread delivery truck, their café-on-wheels now serves up the opposite of white bread: Bulgogi beef tacos with kimchi and lamb burgers with tomato-rhubarb jam are just a few of the items that have graced their frequently changing hit list.
“If there is a theme, it would be globally inspired street food,” says Pratico, but the menu has always been a work in progress. “It’s a tactic I have,” De Filippis admits. “I make things over the course of a month and the customers get addicted to it, then I take it away.” De Filippis says that his M.O. is different than that of other food-truck operators, “with the same thing all the time. You can’t play the same hit song over and over on the radio; what about my other hit songs?”
UPDATE: Roadies relocated to the Greater Boston area in October 2016.