Mario Bevilacqua is a man on the move. The 24-year-old can currently be found dishing out unique meals throughout Dunmore from his food truck business, “What the Fork.” A graduate of the Restaurant School of Walnut Hill College in Philadelphia, Bevilacqua decided to bring his good eats and quality service to the streets. After working at Rustic Kitchen and The University of Scranton, he wanted to strive for something more and stray a little bit from the norm. With a little help from his mother, family and girlfriend Katie Graziosi by his side, Bevilacqua is already taken back by the amount business he has garnered in his initial opening run, and the amount of positive feedback from customers. During our interview, the menu featured a burger with Waygu beef and pepper-jack on a potato roll, a Caprese salad and a wrap with Boston lettuce, local chicken, wild rice, water chestnuts and sweet soy. The truck is loaded up and ready to serve. Meet “What the Fork’s” Mario Bevilacqua…
At what age did you start to get into cooking or food?
My father opened Whistles when I was eight. Ever since then, I always wanted to be in the kitchen. That’s all I ever wanted to do. My father passed away when I was 14. Until the day that he passed away, all he wanted to do was cook and I loved it. My father opened the restaurant when I was young. Just being around during the remodeling and then people coming in and celebrities all over the place and articles in newspaper; it was such an exciting atmosphere. When it came down to him being sick, he stepped away from the business. He was home cooking and I loved watching what he was doing. That’s how it started.
Where did the idea of the food truck come from?
The idea for the food truck came from my girlfriend, Katie Graziosi. While I was working at The University of Scranton, I had an interview in Yardley, Pa. for an executive chef position and was offered the job. We drove down to look at apartments and she didn’t really like it. She wasn’t thrilled with the location and cost of living. I was a little bummed out. I just wanted more. She said “why don’t you open a food truck?” We decided to do it. We started right there coming up with names. What are we going to name it?
How was that process?
It was exciting. You see trucks and you think “how do they come up with these names?” They’re so great. But a lot of them directly reflected the food they serve. I didn’t want to commit to a cuisine or a dish. I wanted the ability to expand and to play with ingredients. I get bored too quickly. I can’t serve waffle for the next seven years of my life. We had about eighty names and “What the Fork” was the best.
What makes “What the Fork” uniquely yours?
What makes it different is that we don’t have to commit to serving (just one type of food). It’s also an upscale truck. I wear a chef coat and this is not your everyday roach coach. This is a restaurant that just happens to be on wheels.
What kind of food is available?
I have been going to the Farmers’ Market every Monday Wednesday and Friday looking for inspirations. I can’t name a cuisine. I don’t have a name for it yet. There are so many fun and exciting dishes that I want to bring on board.
How important is it for you to include local ingredients?
The idea of going to the farmers market is great because it is available and right here. Why do I have to order 50 pounds of onions on the computer when I could go pick them myself and display them in the truck? I knew that is where I needed to start. We are committed to sustainability any chance that we get, whether it’s onions or the chicken or bacon or cucumbers. We feel that it’s our responsibility.
After only a few days in operation, how has the reception been to “What the Fork?”
Social media and Facebook have been blowing my mind. I can’t judge the quality of my business on that as I can see you walk up to the truck, I personally make your dish and I hand it to you. I get to watch you eat it in front of the tuck and you give me your honest answer. There’s no waitress or middleman. It’s farm to tuck to right in your hands. The satisfaction is great. You get to have that one on one, even if it’s only for a minute.
Where can we find “What the Fork?”
Right now, we are in Dunmore and appearing at several events. We are booked for the Dunmore Centennial. We would like to the truck in Old Forge, Scranton, Dickson City and Clarks Summit. I would like to broaden my target, but right now I want to focus on how the business operates before we move to other areas.
How has it been starting your business in your hometown?
People ask how I’m doing and I say I’m living the dream. People laugh and think it’s funny, but it’s true. I never knew this is what I wanted until I got here. I never knew what part of the industry I wanted to be in. I couldn’t be happier.
Where do you hope to see “What the Fork” in a year?
In a year, I would like to see “What the Fork” operating in Scranton and surrounding areas. I would like to be involved in more events. In three years, I would like to have two trucks. It may be premature to say, but I have good faith in what we have created so far.
You learned about food and cooking and service from your father. How important is it for you to take a step back and take it all in?
He loved feeding people. He would invite people over to the house and he would give them containers of sauce, the whole nine yards. Over the past year and through all the work and all of the speed bumps along the way, to sit here right now with you and to have 15 people in line waiting for the truck to open the other day, what else can I ask for? I can’t describe the feeling. It’s beyond my wildest dreams.
— tom graham
For more information on “What the Fork,” visit www.wtforktruck.com, Facebook.com/wtforktruck, or @wtforktruck on Twitter.