The novelty of food trucks has long since passed, and with good reason. With occasional exceptions, a meal from one of the city's more precious mobile food vendors is generally 25 to 30 percent worse than from a brick-and-mortar establishment, and involves 80 percent more time spent hunched awkwardly on a curb, tearing at an artisanal pork bun while trying not to look like a Stephen Gammell ghoul.
Policano's Italian Sausage is a different story completely. Parked on a sprawling, industrial stretch of Linden Boulevard, the line for the truck's juicy Italian sausage and hot peppers forms early and holds strong right up until the food runs out. Its assembled cast of regulars would make the Cheers folks look like soft-handed newbs—of the customers we spoke with last week, only one was a Policano virgin—in true New York fashion, she decided to queue up after seeing so many others patiently camped out in the sun, sacrificing their meager lunch breaks for a shot at scoring a knish before they ran out. (By 2 p.m., it was already far too late.)
The rest, though, have been eating at Policano's weekly for anywhere between 10 and 30 years. Doug Policano has been parked right there on Linden Boulevard near 79th Street since 1978—before the Rite Aid was built across the street, and long before the new strip mall immediately adjacent. There's not much there now, but before? There was even less. "We only get to come around here maybe once a year," a plainclothes police officer said as he and his colleagues got back into their battered sedan, sausages in hand. "Today is a good day."
Policano turned down requests for a longer interview, but asked whether he ever gets bored, he looks up from the task at hand, which at the moment happens to be squeezing a rainbow of condiments across his porcine masterpiece. He chuckles wryly and nods toward the formidable line creeping down the block. "Does it look like it?"
Policano's Italian Sausage is parked on 79th Street and Linden Boulevard Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Visit its very engaging website here.
Video by Jessica Leibowitz.