Annual Food Truck-a-Palooza in Monroeville has best year yet | TribLIVE.com
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Michael DiVittorio

The third annual Food Truck-a-Palooza at the Monroeville Convention Center brought in a record number of trucks and participants.

At least 35 trucks and 3,000 people packed the venue at 209 Mall Blvd. on Saturday.

It’s presented by GoodTaste! Pittsburgh and Steel City Media.

GoodTaste! Owner Dee Weinberg said it’s the largest indoor winter food truck festival in Western Pennsylvania, and this year was its best one yet.

“Everybody loves food, and what better place to try food trucks than all in one area?” Weinberg said. “I think people are happy. The trucks are happy. The lines are long and they have a place to sit and be entertained.”

There were foods from Nakama, Revival Chili, South Side BBQ Company and Burgh Bites. A complete list of trucks and event sponsors is available at goodtastepittsburgh.com/food-truck-a-palooza.

Derek Widziszewski of Roscoe said he and his wife, Tawny, and a group of friends enjoyed their experience at the festival.

“The chili was excellent,” he said. “Our whole group makes sure we get something different so we can sample everything. We pick what we like, but we pick off everyone else’s plate. There was something for everybody.”

Theresa Florian of Stockdale had a margarita chicken wrap from Speals on Wheels.

“I was trying to stay away from junk and wanted something healthy with vegetables and meat,” she said. “It was really good.”

Barbeque was a very popular food option. Oakmont Barbeque Company sold out of its beef brisket selections with hours left in the show. South Side BBQ Company delivered its signature dish, the “Bar-be-Cone.”

The Bar-be-Cone has mac and cheese, pulled pork, barbeque sauce and coleslaw stuffed in a waffle cone.

This year’s event offered much more than a gathering of trucks. Face painting, a photo booth, various vendors with free food and drink samples, as well as live entertainment such as musician Joel Lindsey were available in the backroom’s large seating area.

Seating was scarce and it was hard to move around at its second annual event because the other room was not utilized.

“The crowd was so large last year that we realized we needed bigger space,” Weinberg said. “The Monroeville Convention Center has been very gracious (with its space).”

Air quality was a concern with all the food trucks under one roof.

Monroeville Volunteer Fire Co. No. 6 members walked the site repeatedly with carbon monoxide detectors, and enforced other safety measures such as limiting food truck fuel usage to one 20-pound propane tank at a time.

“People don’t realize how dangerous things could be,” deputy Chief Harold Katofsky said. “We want to make sure the people here are safe and they don’t get sick.”

Katofsky said some doors were open and fans were used to help circulate the air, and members of the Allegheny County Health Department were on hand to inspect the trucks before they served food.

Only two trucks were prevented from being inside due to having 50-pound tanks, and no air quality problems were detected, Katofsky said.

A portion of the event’s proceeds went toward the fire department for its safety efforts.

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