The Back Story of Cibo Streetery
The Back Story of Cibo Streetery
Written by Denise Wamsley
When I meet Alex Fegaras at his CIBO Streetery food truck at St. Jacob’s Market, I want to know everything. I mean, an Italian food truck? I knew Alex was proud of his Italian heritage and we wasted no time getting to the back story.
Alex has been professionally cooking for the past 15 years and it’s his reason for being. What really lit him up, however, was a solo coming of age journey to Italy, where he had the opportunity to Stage under Chef Pino DiCicco.
The fine dining restaurant, Antica Osteria Da Divo, is in a cave, in the province of Siena. (Of course I looked it up and its’ 5-star reviews have placed it # 8 on TripAdvisor.)
For the next six months, Alex worked directly with Chef Pino DiCicco, preparing the second course items for his menu. For Alex, it was culinary culture shock.
“I cooked lamb, Fiorentina steaks (a local delicacy), sea bass, rabbit. Each one was prepared from scratch, and I was responsible for every component of each second course dish - the starch, the veg, any saucing, garnish - it was completely new to me.”
“Now let me explain. You may think cooking all that at once is difficult, but the culture in Italy revolves around food. Food is more than just sustenance; it’s expression, beauty, and perfection. These things take time and everyone there knows and accepts it. All foods, from a grape on the vine to a 20-year aged pecorino, are nurtured and cared for with such passion, I couldn’t help but fall in love the same way.”
Well. If that doesn’t whet your appetite I don’t know what will. Especially when Alex explains that his lasagna, served traditional style or deep fried, is a family recipe passed down for four generations. He lovingly hand crafts his lasagna noodles in the trailer the day before market opens. Wait. What? Deep fried lasagna?
Yes wait. Alex has to tell the story of the lasanga first, a family favourite from his childhood. “I used to love helping roll out the pasta dough - we used a manual roller so making lasagna was a family endeavor. I watched as Nonna would crack the egg into her mound of flour. It absolutely fascinated me how easily she would create this amazing long, textured noodle, from a lump of dough. Spooning her sugo, I watched as Nonna would place layer after layer until the
lasagna tray was complete.”
“Sugo is basically my family’s version of bolognaise. When we were kids, Momma used to have to hide veggies in the sauce so we would actually eat our veggies. Now that I’m older I find adding the soffrito (garlic, carrots, onions and celery) adds a beautiful sweetness to the sauce. Each batch of sugo I make has 10 pounds of ground beef; it’s an extra meaty sauce.”
“For the deep fried version, I thought it would interesting to see how I could reinvent Nonna’s classic, and my first and obvious choice was to deep fry it. After a few failed attempts (moisture issues, breading issues, size issues) I decided to cut them into tiny cubes, large enough to get the lasagna taste that I loved as a kid, but small enough to be able to enjoy them as dip able bites.”
Alex tested different packaging options until he found one just right for snacking on the delightful cubes of lasagna while wandering the market stalls.
Fresh made to Order
Today I am with my vegan daughter Kate and my gal pal Joanne, who both eagerly speak with Alex until we had ordered a sampling of pretty much the whole menu.
Here’s the thing. When you place your order, it’s going to be made fresh – it’s not sitting under a hot light for the next grab and go. We sit at the picnic table and discuss the nice young Italian boy and his food truck.
Joanne can’t be more enthusiastic. “Alex is so expressive. He’s very helpful and informative in his advice about your choices. He is genuinely passionate and excited about his food.”
Kate agrees. “Alex is so very personable and creative, especially since he is tailoring a menu item for my dietary restrictions.”
We order: Deep fried lasagna. A Meat Lovers Pizzette. Deep Fried Gnocchi, and vegan gnocchi. Deep Fried Olives. Yes, it is far too much food but we dig in.
Joanne immediately sinks her teeth into a crispy breaded olive. “Delicious. Different. Unique. Delightful and somehow not greasy, not salty, they are just right.”
Savouring next the deep fried lasagna, Joanne smiles widely, announcing this a great twist on her favourite dish, a tasty treat. Also, the drink option, San Pelligrino Orange is a nice touch. But it is the pizzette, with its thick smoked bacon and cheese curds drizzled with Maple Syrup that clinched it for Joanne. “Oh that was delicious, it was so good, it was savoury - just the most delicious pizza ever. It’s not typical and I loved the bread it’s on. Also, I really appreciate that his ingredients were sourced today from other market vendors. It’s exceptional value for something made with such care - fresh and local ingredients prepared with love. He’s good.“ Joanne is also very interested in his catering services as well. Yes. He caters!
It’s not long before Kate discovers her vegan gnocchi to be very filling and delicious enough for dinner and has Alex fashion a take away container to get it home to share with her man. Kate loves the deep fried version, too. “The deep fried gnocchi is such a perfect bite sized snack for when you’re walking around the market. The sauce for dipping is just right.”
Handcrafted Lasagna Pans to go
You would think our foodie extravaganza ended here, but no. During today’s visit, I pre-ordered one of Alex’s infamous take-out lasagnas for an upcoming dinner with friends the following weekend. I will pick it up in a week.
Fast forward to the lasagna dinner. I can’t even tell you what this thing weighs, but it is a heavy deep dish with six healthy portions and I couldn’t wait to get it into the oven to serve it up.
Forks at the ready and all was silent. At first. Then moans of delight. This is generally how I like all of my dinner parties to unfold. My husband immediately declared it the best lasagna he’s ever had, and luckily I’ve never made a lasagna for him.
Carol: “No way did this lasagna come from a food truck!" Oh yeah, it did....it is simply delicious. Many layers, not runny, and packed with goodness. So this is what love tastes like! But let me be honest. I don’t want to recommend this lasagna because how could I pass it off as my own to my dinner guests?”
Ky: “This was the best lasagna I have had in a very, very long time. The $20 value is amazing; there’s a lot of food in that pan. And that's for all handmade and locally sourced ingredients.”
Did I mention we were trying to count the layers of noodles? 9 to 11 layers, we figure.
Did I mention you should taste test the CIBO Streetery in St. Jacob’s Market? You’ll meet that nice Italian boy, Alex. “I source all of my ingredients locally and prepare them in Nonna’s simple loving manner, in hopes of mimicking the tastes I so enjoyed as a child.”