You might call Gastros a hot dog cart, but all you need to do is take a glance at their well-designed logo to know that it’s so much more. “Gastros” is printed in a cursive font, with subtext of “handcrafted perfection” all in front of a cutting board and chef’s knife. They advertise “gastronomic eats” out on the interwebs, but what does that mean, exactly?
“It’s the art of eating and creating great food, my man,” said co-owner Owen Doyle with a smile. He and his co-conspirator Travis Gervasio have been in business since June 2015. Gastros was a part-time gig for them both until early April 2016 when they decided to go full-time with it.
“This year is going to be breaking the stigma of the dirty water cart,” Gervasio said. Your typical hot dog cart sells boiled dogs out of murky water, but Gastros? They make everything locally sourced, all natural and from scratch. “We try to source everything as super-local as possible,” said Doyle.
Before throwing all in with Gastros they “did the whole corporate thing” with Doyle being a banquet supervisor at Foxwoods and Gervasio a cook at ProvidenceG’s Rooftop, studying under Aaron Thorpe at the time (who now owns and operates Cook & Dagger in Smithfield). Before that, Doyle and Gervasio both went to Johnson & Wales and were roommates before they were business partners.
“A good day off for us then was just cooking for 10 hours for our friends and hanging out,” Gervasio explained. Now, the two-man operation is a combination of Gervasio’s culinary skills and Doyle’s business acumen. And if the public’s response to their food is any indication, they’ve got something special.
I met them at Foolproof Brewing Company before a beer and sausage night took place there (a match made in heaven if you ask me). They immediately had me try some of their Homemade Teriyaki Jerky with meat from Kinnealey Meats, which was pretty darn good, and explained how it was becoming something of a local trend with the breweries, especially Foolproof in Pawtucket and Long Live Beerworks in Providence.
Then it was on to some Charred Broccoli topped with Cheddar Mornay, which was literally torched before being slathered in the cheesy sauce; really quite good.
Before I could lick my lips, I was presented with The Country Dog, and let me just stop and say that for foodies like myself, it’s very rare to be truly blown away by something new. Flavors tend to be derivative, spices are usually the same. I don’t know if it was the perfect confluence of my favorite specific flavors, but the Gastros Country Dog is one of the greatest things I have ever eaten. (So sorry I didn’t get pics, readers. It was just too damn good, and gone too damn fast.)
It’s a house-made hot dog with bacon gravy and crumbled cornbread, topped with peppercorn maple syrup. It had the spice, it had the sweet, it had the savory, and the textures! I love a good piece of cornbread, and this was some great cornbread crumbled atop this spectacle. The dog itself had some explosively succulent flavor, and though some people might be averse to syrup on meat, there are few things I enjoy more (try chicken Vermont in your lifetime).
It didn’t stop there! I was also able to sample the “Not Foolin’ Around,” which was a special version of their usual bacon cheddar wurst. It was their go-to house-made hot dog stuffed with bacon and cheddar and topped with braised onions on a brioche bun. The thing is, though — those onions? They braise them in beer from the brewery they’re at. In this case, it was the Barstool American Golden Ale (my personal favorite mainstay from Foolproof). At Long Live Beerworks that meant the Bricks and Mortar Brown Ale. This dog, too, was fantastic. The pockets of cheddar pop in your mouth like cheesy gushers and the onions were sublime.
By midsummer, Gastros is hoping to roll out a new, larger rig that will allow them even more flexibility, storage and output.
To learn more about Gastros, find them on Twitter: @gastros401 or Facebook at Gastros401. To see the current locations of Gastros and other local food trucks, visit motifri.com/food-truck-locator, brought to you by FoodTrucksIn RI (foodtrucksin.com), a Providence-based company allowing users to find local food trucks or food trucks in over 1,300 cities nationwide.