Rommelito “Romm” Gaddi didn’t grow up planning to own the incrediBalls Food Truck. He was working in the mortgage industry when, on a whim, he decided to “take up bartending.” It was at Jersey City’s Maritime Parc that Romm fell in love with the industry. “I learned a tremendous amount from the people who work there.”
Without any formal kitchen training, (“I was always the guy on the grill at the BBQ,”) Romm started shopping for food trucks.
Romm’s journey into the business “isn’t that romantic. I didn’t have enough money to start a bar so I decided to buy a truck.” Romm hopped on the ‘net and after looking at two unsuitable options, found a great deal on Craigslist in Clifton, NJ.
“I didn’t even have my concept yet,” recalls Romm, “But this truck was in my price range and I worked around that. It had the bare bones: plumbing, electric, and condition of the truck was good.” So he went for it. On June 1, 2014, the incrediBalls Food Truck launched.
The menu is simple: meatballs. Unique, traditional, rustic, spicy, handmade and even vegetarian (if you must) meatballs. And sauce. Delicious handmade sauce. Sometimes two sauces. With or without bread.
Why meatballs? “They have the most range,” Romm explains. “Everyone around the world recognizes the form. From koftas in the Middle East, to Chinese congee balls, back around to Swedish meatballs, it’s a comfortable and familiar form. Here’s what distinguishes us. We have a basic protein for each dish, and then we layer flavors. The sauces distinguish the balls. Aside from the Franks Hot Sauce on the Buffalo Chicken meatball, we make all the sauces.”
The Italian meatballs are beef balls with an herb-infused tomato sauce as well as a parmesan sauce that might actually be the inspiration behind this very article. The parmesan sauce seems to symbolize everything the incrediBalls truck experience is. The texture is refined and creamy, the flavor is memorable and also brand new, but there’s something about it that takes a familiar dish into one that is current and reinvigorated.
“It was an accident,” Romm laughs. “It was supposed to be a spread on the meatballs. It’s reminiscent of what you can do in a sub shop. We were going to sprinkle it on like parmesan cheese… I can’t really remember how we got to where we are with it.”
Romm’s easy personality lends itself to this kind of work, where a food truck owner is more than a chef. “You have to be your own lawyer, accountant… I became a mechanic, which is ironic since I called Triple A once when I was in college about a flat tire/busted lug nut problem which actually wasn’t a problem because I was just turning the wrench in the wrong direction.”
Buffalo Chicken Meatballs
In addition to serving lunch Monday-Friday in the Exchange Place designated Food Truck parking (corner of Grand and Hudson), Romm also does catering, parties, and custom menus. He creates dishes modified for events based on budgets and dietary restrictions. The incrediBalls truck can also be seen at events around town, including the Riverview Farmers Market and the Pop Up Project at Liberty State Park. “When people like your food its validation,” he says.
Diners can choose between “The Usual Suspects” – Italian, Swedish, Buffalo Chicken, and Barbeque Pork or “The People’s Choice” – Jamaican Jerk Chicken, Bahn Mi, Southern Smothered Pork, and Vegetarian.
“Our first year we used to do specials every couple of weeks and eventually we asked our customers which one of the specials they wanted permanently on the new menu and that’s where we got the People’s choice.” Sizes are four meatballs in a potato roll ($7.50), two meatballs in a potato roll ($4.50), or a bowl of four balls without bread ($6.50).
Italian and Swedish Meatballs
Top two photos by Mel Kozakiewicz, bottom two courtesy of IncrediBalls.