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Woman takes grandfather’s pizza recipes on the road in food truck

Woman takes grandfather's pizza recipes on the road in food truck

Filippa Alfano, essentially, grew up with pizza sauce running through her veins.

Her grandfather, Leo Vitale, opened Leo’s Pizza in Jacksonville in 1978. It was the origin story for several similarly named, family-owned pizzerias throughout central Illinois. Today, Vitale’s children run the Jacksonville pizzeria – the family’s sole remaining location – where Alfano can regularly be found serving up her grandfather’s signature pies.

So when COVID-19 blocked Alfano – who just graduated with a degree in interpretative sign language – from getting certified in her field of study, she turned to what she knew.

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Leo’s Pizza on Wheels was born one year ago with Alfano taking her grandfather’s recipes on the road.           

Converting the repurposed school bus required removing the seating to make room for the full size oven at the rear and leaving a galley kitchen running the length of the vehicle. Alfano’s business logo: “Rollin’ our own. While we’re rollin’.”

The menu is similar to its brick-and-mortar inspiration: pizza by the slice or pie, meatballs served on a sandwich or solo, a pasta of the day, hot wings and Bosco sticks – those melty, mozzarella-stuffed breadsticks.

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The food truck’s heavy private bookings have kept Alfano from establishing a regular public schedule, but the rehabbed school bus can be found in Springfield at the Levitt AMP Springfield Music Series on Thursday and the upcoming Abe Fest on July 8 and 9. And Alfano posts weekly schedules on the business’s Facebook page that recently have ranged from a lunch stint at Midwest Technical Institute in Springfield to Jacksonville’s Spring Fling Carnival.

The business phone is 217-883-1035 or text 217-320-3136 to book a private event.

Natalie Morris can be reached at 737-7254 or by email at [email protected]