By Rina Rapuano
Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2011
Jon Rossler imagined that owning a food truck would be easy. He envisioned customers chasing him down, shouting, "Oh, my God, the corned beef truck!" Rossler, 45, started serving deli sandwiches from his Corned Beef King truck in September and laughs now at his naivete. But after learning the rules in Montgomery County, finding the sweet spots and figuring out the whole social-media aspect, he thinks things are finally going his way.
"The response I was looking for is coming to fruition now," says Rossler, who learned the deli trade growing up at his parents' restaurant, Celebrity Delly, in Fairfax County.
On a recent Monday, when what he calls "the royal coach" was parked near Colesville Road and Georgia Avenue in Silver Spring, Rossler shrewdly handed out samples of his corned-beef-and-potato knish ($2.95). The puff-pastry-wrapped marvel was just the kind of carbohydrate/umami bomb we crave on a cold day.
We ordered the Classic Reuben ($9.99): buttery corned beef, sauerkraut that cuts through the richness of the meat, Swiss and Provolone cheeses, and Russian dressing, layered on fresh-baked rye and warmed on the griddle. We also got the Milly Ann ($8.49), basically a Reuben with coleslaw subbed for sauerkraut and with Provolone cheese only.
The flavors and texture spoke to the great care that's taken with the beef brisket. Rossler cooks the already-corned meat for 11 hours, a process that involves slow roasting and re-seasoning it with his own pickling spices, onions and "secret sweeteners." The result might make you feel as if you need a shower and a nap afterward, but it's worth it.
Specials such as the turkey Reuben ($8.99) were equally flavorful. Roasting the meat for more than three hours in nothing but garlic, butter, salt and pepper let the taste of the bird shine. (The pastrami and the vegetarian Reuben weren't available when we visited.) Sides including the well-seasoned red-skinned potato salad and the celery-seed-spiked coleslaw (regularly $2.25 each) tasted homemade, in a good way.
Rossler recently began offering breakfast in Olney on weekends, including corned-beef hash topped with two over-easy eggs ($8.99) and a dessertlike challah French toast ($7.99).
He already allows customers to call in orders ahead of time but says he plans to add curbside pickup service, which he expects to help him through the colder months, and to expand into the District.
Judging by the shortage of good delis and the quality of his sandwiches, this food truck could become king of the road.