Portable pizza a hit at parties

Rocklin business brings oven to your doorstep
By: Lauren Weber, The Placer Herald
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Pizza parties have never been so fun and effortless – at least now for the host. Thanks to Bella Familia Wood Fired Pizza, a Rocklin-based business offering pizzas cooked on location through a portable, Italian, wood-fired pizza oven. Rocklin resident Scott Thorson and his family launched the business in October of last year and have been making pies for people at parties, sporting events and business socials ever since. His 3,900-pound trailer holds the wood-fired oven, coolers full of toppings and a portable working space, and can get just about anywhere – hitched to his car. The pizzas are made from scratch on-site – from rolling the dough, loading up the toppings, baking the pie and serving it – cooked for approximately two minutes in the oven, heated to between 750 and 900 degrees. Thorson admits he’s always been somewhat of a “foodie.” He’s competed in barbecue competitions and grew up with a mother who baked a lot, he said. The dough is handmade in a rented kitchen in Sacramento; the sauce is a combination of crushed tomatoes and simple herbs; and Thorson said he custom-creates pizzas constantly. Some of his pie recipes include a white sauce with garlic chicken, another with caramelized onions and sausage, another with potato, rosemary and herb olive oil and traditional pizzas such as margherita with tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese and basil. Dessert pizzas are also a hit, Thorson said, with choices of mascarpone cheese topped with caramel, chocolate or apples and cinnamon. Thorson said he’s also currently playing with a chocolate calzone. Bella Familia sprung from Thorson’s desire to have a wood-fired pizza oven in his own backyard. He said he built one “brick by brick” and soon after began researching portable ovens. The one he found came from Italy and packs in the heat. It takes about an hour and a half to heat up, and even more time to cool down. Many times, the morning after events, Thorson bakes cinnamon rolls for his family in the oven – by morning it cools to about 300 degrees. Not long before the business was started, Thorson was laid off from a tech company – an industry he worked in for 10 years. He also owned an ice cream shop in Minnesota previously, so he’s no stranger to being his own boss, but he said his pizza endeavor wasn’t something expected. “I wasn’t looking for it,” he said. “It came out of more of a love of cooking.” Since its start, the portable pizza business has attracted some devoted customers. Jennifer Hanks of Lincoln is one of them. She teaches at Whitney High School and first heard about Bella Familia Pizza through an auction item. Months later, she booked the business for her son’s fourth birthday. “The kids thought it was cool because they could see the pizzas being made,” Hanks said. “The kids weren’t bored.” Hanks said Thorson brought the oven, made the pies, cooked them, served them and cleaned up. “No headaches for us,” she said. Since then, she said she’s made an effort to attend events where Thorson and his oven cater. Bella Familia served slices at Whitney High School football games this year and Hanks said it was her dinner during the season. In addition to setting up and serving pizzas at football games, Thorson said he’s always looking for other locations to dish up his pizzas – whether at fundraising events, school functions or family get-togethers – with limitless options on toppings and combinations. “I usually make them until you can’t eat them anymore,” he said. Going from the tech industry to making wood-fired pizzas, Thorson admits it’s a nice change of pace. “I like the fact that you’re creating something. A minute ago that was a dough ball,” he said. He also said it’s exciting to see people happy. “There’s a lot of satisfaction in that,” he said. What: Bella Familia Wood Fired Pizza, Italian wood-fired portable pizza oven for parties, events Phone: 759-4566 Web site: