The Dough Girls food truck is a familiar sight in Greenwich where many crave the individual size wood fired pizzas.
The food truck owner, Louise Joseph, was recently visited in Greenwich by Lieutenant Governor Susan Bysiewicz who said Ms Johnson was a great example of a woman owned business working through the pandemic.
This week, Ms Johnson again parked in the YMCA Greenwich lot, where customers flocked at lunch time.
Ms Joseph attributes her culinary inspiration to her mother, Alice, who was one of 10 siblings. Alice hailed from the African island country of Cape Verde, and over the years Louise observed with interest as her mother prepared traditional Cape Verdean food.
“She was always the best cook,” Ms Joseph recalled, adding that there is a tribute to her mother painted onto the food truck. “I’m not just saying that because she’s my mom. She was a little surprised when I said I wanted to go to culinary school.”
Ms Joseph went on to attend Johnson & Wales in Providence, RI, and later undertook some interesting gigs including work as the sous chef at the former Bang restaurant on East Putnam Ave.
She also owned restaurants in Fairfield County, and worked as a private chef for families in Greenwich and Weston.
Her pizza is truly unique and delicious as she makes her own dough, sauce, fresh mozzarella and seasonal toppings, sourced locally from farmers markets as often as possible.
“My dough is completely mixed by hand,” Ms Joseph explained. “No machines. And it’s a process to stretch the dough. It’s one of the things that sets us apart from other pizza makers.”
“The crust is from a delicate dough – not handled like a New York dough which you slam,” she explained.
“You want to keep the air bubbles,” she added. “The heat reacts with the dough and you get the lovely air bubbles. That’s what makes it unique. This dough took me three years to develop.”
The individual sized pizzas cook in a minute and a half at 800°.
Varieties include the “Mashed,” which features large dollops of mashed potatoes, applewood smoked bacon, caramelized onions and aged mozzarella.
The “Pesto,” which features broccoli rabe pesto, Italian sausage, cherry peppers, and aged mozzarella, has also earned earned devotees.
The wood fired pizza truck first rolled into Greenwich in 2015 when Louise’s personal sized pizzas were a quick hit at Greenwich Polo on North Street. From there, word of mouth spread.
“I did limited marketing,” she said. “I had social media, and that was really all.”
Joseph has been at Greenwich Polo ever since, though the grounds were closed to the public last summer due to the pandemic. In fact, all the events where Louise’s food truck were a staple were canceled.
Like other food trucks and restaurateurs, the pandemic initially brought business to a full stop.
For a time, early in the pandemic, Joseph created pizza kits that were a hit for families to make pizza at home.
“That took off more than I thought it would,” she recalled. “I did that for a while and then brought the truck out for curbside pickup.”
Then, for a time business was split between pizza kits and curbside pickup.
When the initial lockdown was lifted, Johnson’s co-workers, her “dough girls,” weren’t able to return to share the small space inside the food truck, but Louise was eventually able to street vend during visits including the YMCA Greenwich on East Putnam Ave. And now she is able to have help on the truck, but with strict precautions.
Ms Joseph, who hails from the New Haven/West Haven area, said she looked forward to the return of events including New Haven’s annual “Apizza Feast,” which features a variety of pizza vendors in the green at Yale.
“It has a bike race and a beer garden,” she said wistfully. “It’s really amazing. It draws thousands of people.”
“New Haven is known for its pizza,” Joseph added. “I always loved pizza, growing up with the best pizza there is.”
So when she set out with her truck, she did not try to duplicate what the successful pizza makers were already cooking.
“I wanted to do personal pies so people could get what they wanted and decided to make some different toppings,” she recalled. “You have to offer the cheese and pepperoni, but also there are unique varieties like the ‘Arugula’ pie with vodka sauce and shaved Parmesan.”
Joseph said the ‘Mashed’ is also a good seller.
“Some people hesitate because they think it is red sauce on mashed potatoes, but it’s a white pie – it doesn’t have any red sauce,” she explained. “Once people try it they’re hooked. That’s our best seller.”
And there’s the ‘Rosa,’ though it doesn’t appear on the menu, it can be requested. Ms Joseph said it is ideal for people who are lactose intolerant. That Rosa features red sauce, basil, olive oil, crust and “a little garlic.”
Ms Joseph said pizza enthusiasts should check her social media posts to confirm visits to Greenwich, which are weather dependent.
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