You just never know what might happen when you start to research authentic Italian pizza. You might throw pizza parties at your house until your friends and family start asking when the next one is happening. You might even shop for a high-heat wood-fired pizza oven for your backyard, and discover that there are mobile versions.
And if you are Jim Combs, you might decide 23 years in the contracting business is enough, decide to buy a truck and a mobile pizza oven, and launch Rollin’ Stone Wood Fired Pizza before opening a brick-and-mortar location in 2018 in Green Oak Village Plaza in Brighton.
It wasn’t quite that simple, of course. Combs worked with pizza chefs, trained in Colorado, and catered events with others before launching his pizza truck in 2012.
“It was just a lucky chance that we hit the food truck scene when it was really taking off in Detroit,” Combs said. “The key to food truck success is your product — you have to be better, and different, than the competition.”
Wood-fired pizza from a food truck is certainly different, but high-quality ingredients are critical. The flour for the dough is from Italy. The vegetables are all fresh, the pepperoni is “old world,” and nothing comes out of a can.
“I’ve always been hooked on high-quality food,” Combs said. “My parents owned a farm market, so all we knew growing up was fresh, quality food.”
It’s a winning combination.
The mobile unit has a big following, including corporate clients at which they can sell over 200 pizzas just at lunch. Catering for grad parties and other events is also a big part of the business, and Rollin’ Stone was featured at 30 weddings in 2017.
“I was nervous about the first wedding. All I could think was ‘You want pizza for your wedding?'” Combs said, laughing. “But the response has been great. I mean, I’ve gotten emails from brides on their honeymoon, telling us how everyone loved the pizza truck.”
The cafe location had a busy start.
“It’s definitely different than a food truck,” Combs says. “We’re learning the trends of the area. We had to adjust to having a more extensive menu, longer hours and for more prep time — a food truck is pretty fast with a limited menu.”
Pepperoni is the best seller for both the cafe and the truck, followed by the margherita pizza. Combs’ personal favorite is the BLT pizza, and the Italiano (proscuitto and arugula) and the “Pile Up” (bacon, sausage and pepperoni) are also popular.
Combs is proud of the fact that Rollin’ Stone Pizza is family-run, serving up handmade pizza with the best ingredients. The personal pizzas are priced under $10, and they often run specials. In addition to the pizza menu, which includes gluten-free and vegan options, the cafe serves up salads, cheese bread, and Treat Dreams ice cream. So roll on in with the family sometime soon!
Rollin’ Stone Pizza, 9406 Village Place Blvd, Brighton Mich.
Phone: (810) 229-5806 / catering: (248) 956-7315