U of O’s newest food truck serves up slices every Thursday

Sabrina Nemis | Fulcrum Staff

FORGET CAFETERIA FOOD, forget brown bagging it, and forget working through lunch. Every Thursday from 11:30 to 1:30 in front of Lamoureux, you can have phenomenal pizza.

It’s so good that The Flatbread Pizza Company founder Mark Snyder is phasing out a 20-year career in photography and 3D illustration for it.

In April 2011, Snyder ordered an Italian wood-fired oven just in time for a month of rain. He used that month to break the oven in, lighting fires to take the moisture out of the masonry. By May, the weather had improved and he was ready to get started.

Snyder and his staff make each pizza from scratch using flour imported from Naples, Italy. Making fresh pizza takes time and customers may wait up to 25 minutes, but Snyder points out that sit-down restaurants can take just as long and the level of quality isn’t always there.

“Plenty of people make wood-fired pizza,” says Snyder. “But as soon as you start changing the essentials, such as the type of flour you’re using, it compromises the quality.”

He’s been cooking all his life, but he and his wife started making pizza at the Ottawa Farmers’ Market on weekends for fun. In the past year, his business has grown exponentially and now he’s getting more jobs than he can take.

Although he maintains offices for his photography business in New York and Toronto, Snyder is focusing more and more on pizza. He says the photography business has changed a lot in the past 10 years and the food truck keeps him out of the office.

“I just thought it became too sedentary,” Snyder says of his photography career. “Just sitting around all the time in front of a screen. If I wanted that kind of job, I would have just got a desk job somewhere.”

This year, he contacted the university about coming in once a week to make pizza on campus. The Flatbread Pizza Company has taken over Stone Soup’s spot at 11 Marie Curie for the summer and Snyder is hoping to become a permanent food truck fixture once the school year starts.

With the menu posted on the company’s Facebook page, U of O’s lunch-goers can plan their Thursday lunches ahead of time.

As for his own tastes, Snyder is a traditionalist when it comes to Napolitana style pizza, preferring the Margherita.

“It’s a classic,” he says. “When it’s done well, it’s pretty hard to beat. It’s an ancient, perfect combination.”

The Margherita is consistently on the menu, and like all of The Flatbread Pizza Company’s items, it’s made with a variety of fresh ingredients, reflecting Snyder’s belief that simplicity can go a long way.

“You don’t have to have a ton of ingredients on a pizza to make it good,” he says. “You have to have the right ingredients.”

With Snyder’s commitment to quality, patrons can expect something more than the average food truck experience.

“We’re actually cooking pizza,” he says. “Not like a regular food truck where they just sort of take it from a pot, put it in a container, stick it out the window.”