One of the latest entrants into the burgeoning DC food truck scene is the BadaBing Cheesesteak Truck, which patrols the Wilson Boulevard corridor in Arlington, looking for hungry customers. When I found the truck on North Lynn Street in Rosslyn today, it was surrounded by almost a dozen patrons, risking their body heat for a chance at a cheesesteak.
Founded in 2010 by Nicholas Terzella, a former executive chef trained at the New England Culinary Institute who has worked in cities like New York City and Miami, the BadaBing Truck offers two main types of sandwiches: cheesesteaks and spiedies (pronounced “spee-dee”). While cheesesteaks are a favorite, staple American sandwich, the spiedie is a little more of a regional favorite, that some people might not be as familiar with. The spiedie originated with Italian immigrants in upper New York State in the early 1900s, who took cubes of marinated, skewer-cooked chicken or pork (spiedinis) and stuffed them in a hoagie rolls. The resulting sandwich was so popular it even spurred the creation of a regional spiedie festival, the annual Spiedie Fest and Balloon Rally (now in its 27th year!) in Binghamton, New York.
In an attempt to sample as much as possible in one visit, I ordered two sandwiches: the basic cheesesteak “wit wiz” and “wit onions,” and Kendall’s Favorite, a spiedie with buffalo sauce, lettuce, tomatoes, and bleu cheese. Although I told myself I was only going to eat half of the sandwiches, after one bite from each, I knew I would not be able to stick to that resolution. The cheesesteak was good, although not the best I have ever had, but solid for the DC area. The sandwich contained a generous portion of chopped steak, stuffed in a soft, cornmeal-dusted roll, coated with warm nacho cheese sauce (“wiz”) and loaded with sweet, sauteed onions. By omitting such extras as tomatoes and lettuce, the meat was allowed to shine as the star of the sandwich. The spiedie was even better. The buffalo-marinated chicken was exquisitely cooked, just a bit charred on the outside and juicy within, with just a hint of a spiciness, complimented by the cool lettuce and tomatoes and further accentuated by the distinctive tangy bite of bleu cheese that dwelt on the bottom of the roll. The sandwiches were well packed and would have easily survived a trip up from the street to an office desk, but the eater would be well-advised to remember napkins.
You can follow the BadaBing Cheesesteak Truck on Twitter at badabingdc. Available between noon and 5pm, the truck’s location changes daily around Arlington. The truck also offers discounts for police and fire department employees.