Tampa community raising money to help replace couple’s stolen pizza food truck

Hillsborough County

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – For Mirco Falcone, the Pizzeataly food truck is a labor love.

“When I cook, I cook with the heart, really,” he told 8 On Your Side.

It is also his American Dream with his girlfriend Dora Botero to serve an authentic taste of his native Italy in Tampa.

“The sauce tastes different, it’s not like original pizza sauce, the cheese, everything it’s really, really good,” said family friend and customer Natasha Gonzalez.

But something really, really bad happened in the early morning of Nov. 16.

“I was driving down Hillsborough and the pizza truck wasn’t here,” Gonzalez said, “so I called my husband and my husband called the owner.”

Once Falcone and Botero learned the awful news, they couldn’t believe it.

“That trailer is only for the pizza, it’s not a commercial truck,” Botero said.

They saved up about $35,000 over several years to purchase the truck with its special brick oven before opening in August 2019.

“They were here all day serving the community,” Gonzalez said.

Falcone and Botero had persevered through the coronavirus pandemic only to see their source of income stolen in surveillance video showing a pick-up truck take off with the pizza truck in tow.

“I say, ‘oh my gosh my dream is gone,’” Botero said of seeing that video from a store’s camera in the shopping plaza at W. Hillsborough Avenue and Sawyer Road.

But now, their community and customers are raising the dough to rebuild that dream.

“I don’t have words for that because I’m very happy everybody help us,” Botero said.

Friends organized a fundraiser Saturday night. A Tampa car club donated a few hundred bucks along with other contributions that are helping the couple’s pizza truck make a comeback.

“Oh it’s unbelievable,” Falcone said. “This is unbelievable.”

A Go Fund Me page has also been set up by Botero’s son to raise the money needed to purchase a new food truck.

The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the theft of the Pizzeataly truck. Deputies are asking anyone with information on the whereabouts of the truck or to help identify the driver of the pick-up truck to call 813-247-8200.

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