How a Delray Beach soccer fan got to sling Messi, Maradona pizzas at Inter Miami games

It’s dusk under the hot lights at DRV PNK Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, and the 22-foot Rossano’s Pizza truck is all dressed up for soccer.

The Airstream trailer has two fútbol-themed pies on the menu and a signature mural along the side —  showcasing an Argentinean legend, framed in a halo of gold, whose last name begins with an “M” and who famously won the FIFA World Cup as his country’s team captain.

No, not Lionel Messi, though it’s a good guess given the party atmosphere the superstar has inspired since joining Inter Miami CF this summer. The mural shows Diego Maradona, who seems almost to be watching proudly over his once-protégé and now-successor Messi at the stadium.

“Messi is the greatest player in the world, but Maradona in Naples is a god,” says Rossano, referring to Maradona’s time playing for the Italian team of Napoli. Rossano is half-Italian and half-Uruguayan and “grew up with fútbol in my veins,” he says.

To honor his soccer heroes, Rossano has crafted two Argentinean-style pizzas that he sells only during Inter Miami games.

Rossano's Pizza food truck is popular due to its 26-foot Airstream trailer with a mural of Diego Maradona on the side, painted by artist Maximiliano Bagnasco, and two unique pizzas, the Messi-themed "FugaMezzi" and "Maradona." Two lines form at the order counter; one for the pizzas and the other for selfies with the painted mascot. The food truck has become a must-visit destination for soccer and pizza enthusiasts. Sharon Cherry, left, and husband Marcelo Rossano run the popular food truck at the DRV PNK Stadium.(Scott Luxor/Contributor)

Scott Luxor / Contributor

Sharon Cherry, left, and husband Marcelo Rossano run Rossano’s Pizza truck at DRV PNK Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, which serves two unique pizzas, the Messi-inspired “FugaMezzi” and “Maradona,” during Inter Miami matches. (Scott Luxor/Contributor)

The bestselling “FugaMezzi,” an homage to Messi, is a white pizza with caramelized onions, green olives and provolone on a soft, focaccia-like crust. Not far behind in sales, he says, is the “Maradona,” smothered in San Marzano tomato sauce, mozzarella, cooked ham, red bell peppers, green olives and oregano.

During Inter Miami’s last game at DRV PNK on Aug. 11, Rossano’s Pizza truck, parked near the Heineken bar — close enough to hear the chorus of Messi chants in Section 110 — sold about 400 pizzas, he says.

“I brought a crazy amount of pizzas, but it started going fast, and all of a sudden I had no pizzas,” Rossano recalls. “From being a humble truck in a corner of Delray Beach, now we’re at the stadium. I have to slap myself and say, ‘Wow, look where we are now.’ ”

When he’s not at Inter Miami games, the truck’s usual perch is the parking lot of Delray Beach beer bar Hopportunities, where he offers 15 types of Neapolitan pies fired with 48-hour fermented dough.

If it all feels surreal, Rossano says that’s because just two years ago a string of hardships nearly forced him to hang up his apron for good.

Rossano's Pizza food truck is popular due to its 26-foot Airstream trailer with a mural of Diego Maradona on the side, painted by artist Maximiliano Bagnasco, and two unique pizzas, the Messi-themed "FugaMezzi" and "Maradona." Two lines form at the order counter; one for the pizzas and the other for selfies with the painted mascot. The food truck has become a must-visit destination for soccer and pizza enthusiasts. Angela Sharma, left, buys food from Sharon Cherry, the wife of Marcelo Rossano.(Scott Luxor/Contributor)
Angela Sharma, left, makes her purchase from food truck co-owner Sharon Cherry at Fort Lauderdale’s DRV PNK Stadium. (Scott Luxor/Contributor)

After he and wife Sharon Cherry lost their jobs during the pandemic, the Delray Beach couple poured their life savings into a 9-foot pizza truck that resembled a mozzarella ball on wheels. In April 2021, the pizzamaker had just finished a gig cooking pies all evening outside a Wynwood art gallery when he turned out of his parking space — and a sedan smashed into it, wrecking his camper.

What followed was a warm and unexpected outpouring of support: Within two days, the Delray Beach community he served had fundraised more than $13,000 to help him buy a second food truck.

Of course, it had to be another Delray Beach customer who helped Rossano land his gig at DRV PNK Stadium.

In July, Heather Lynn Walker, a regular who orders pepperoni-topped Neapolitan at the Hopportunities location, pointed at Rossano’s Maradona mural and jokingly asked the pizzamaker if he liked soccer.

“He thought I was serious and his eyes lit up, so I was like, ‘Well, maybe you want to move your truck to the stadium?’ ” Walker, a DRV PNK bartender, recalls. “I said Messi was coming there, and I’m pretty sure you need to be there. Marcelo is one of the kindest guys you’ll ever meet, and I feel his soul is in the right place.”

Artist Maximiliano Bagnasco paints a mural of Argentine soccer star Lionel Messi on Monday, July 10, 2023, in Miami's Wynwood neighborhood. Bagnasco is also responsible for painting the larger-than-life Diego Maradona mural that is emblazoned on the side of the Rossano's Pizza food truck parked at DRV PNK Stadium this season for Inter Miami soccer matches. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

(AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Artist Maximiliano Bagnasco paints a mural of Argentine soccer star Lionel Messi on Monday, July 10, 2023, in Miami’s Wynwood neighborhood. Bagnasco is also responsible for painting Diego Maradona mural on the side of the Rossano’s Pizza truck, which has been parked at DRV PNK Stadium this season for Inter Miami matches. (Lynne Sladky/AP Photo)

Rossano takes his fútbol fandom so seriously — he counts Maradona’s 1986 World Cup victory among the “greatest moments in my life” — that in 2021 he tapped his Argentinean friend, Maximiliano Bagnasco, to emblazon his food truck with the Maradona mural. He’s the same Bagnasco who in July painted the giant Messi mural in Miami’s Wynwood neighborhood. (After the car accident, Bagnasco even came back to paint a fresh Maradona on Rossano’s new food truck.)

Rossano says his first day with the truck at the stadium, July 16 — when Inter Miami presented Messi to fans — was “euphoric.” But not as euphoric as earlier this month, when Rossano sold out some 300 pies by halftime and wandered close to the pitch in time to catch Messi’s second goal against Orlando City SC for the Leagues Cup.

“When I saw him score right in front of me, when you think every team in the world wants this guy, I felt so lucky. He’s not even from my country — I’m from Uruguay, he’s from Argentina — but he’s the greatest player in the world,” Rossano says.

“All these bad things that happened to me turned into this amazing journey. I’m in the right place now.”

During Inter Miami games at DRV PNK Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, Rossano's Pizza has become a must-visit destination for soccer and pizza enthusiasts for its mural of Diego Maradona and its two specialty pies, a Lionel Messi-inspired "FugaMezzi" and the "Maradona.

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