‘Taco truck without wheels’ opens in Mt. Lebanon
When one door closes, another door opens. Or better yet, a business.
After a business next door on Beverly Road in Mt. Lebanon closed, Jeff Iovino moved his deli shop into the more spacious building. Rather than sell his old location, he called an old friend to spearhead another restaurant idea.
Adam Manculich and Iovino worked together more than a decade ago at Soba in Pittsburgh. Iovino opened Cafe io and then io Deli, and Manculich worked briefly for Iovino, then for a Mexican restaurant in Pittsburgh before it closed, then later worked in corporate dining.
“We had always talked about working together again,” Manculich said.
When io Deli moved next door earlier this summer, Iovino asked Manculich to be the chef at his new restaurant: Taco Diablo.
“I really wanted to get back into (the restaurant business),” Manculich said. “The timing was perfect.”
The “taco truck without wheels,” as Manculich described it, opened in mid-August and is in a tiny location of only 400-square-feet at 300C Beverly Road.
“It makes more sense to do tacos here because you don’t need all that space.”
Manculich said everything at Taco Diablo is “incredibly fresh.” The food is prepared every morning and then throughout the day as necessary. Salsa, guacamole, chips are made in the morning, while the meat is grinded nearly 10 times a day. After ordering, customers typically have a short wait for their food.
“We might pay a little bit extra in labor to make sure the food is fresh,” he said. “We aren’t going to cut corners on the food being fresh. Ever.”
Along with the soft-shell tacos, Taco Diablo also sells burritos, bowls and other side orders like chips and salsa, queso or guacamole.
Manculich said the most popular order so far has been the four-for-$10 tacos. Customers can choose between red chile chicken, carnitas or carne asada. Along with the regular menu, Taco Diablo will regularly have special tacos, like a cauliflower or lamb taco, which will be posted on the restaurant’s’ Facebook page.
“Our sales have been very good so far,” Manculich said. “It’s been well received, and I think people are understanding what we’re about. They love the idea to have something like this in the neighborhood; there’s nothing quite like this around here. It’s informal, chef-driven and very casual. … It’s definitely a more mellow feel when you come in here. You can let your hair down, have a beer and you’re not going to get killed with the price.”
While Manculich is happy to be back in the restaurant business, he’s also happy to be cooking Mexican food again.
“I love all kinds of food, but I especially love spicy food and different flavors and things that maybe you’re not accustomed to,” he said. “I love trying new things and new flavors. Mexican cooking is pretty vast; in America we only get little slices of it. It’s interesting to delve into other spices and techniques and sauces.”
Manculich is also happy to be working in the Mt. Lebanon area again.
“My first day back here, people remembered me from seven or eight years ago from working at the cafe,” he said. “There’s a lot to be said for that. It’s unbelievable, this street and the people and how nice everyone is.”
Taco Diablo is open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.