WHY IT’S NOTEWORTHY
Before all those high-end chefs started opening pizzerias a few years ago, Slice was already matching or exceeding the best pizza around town. They still do, with minimal posturing. Here are thin-crust pizzas in the New York style with an array of excellent toppings. The kitchen also makes a surprisingly large list of daily specials, sandwiches, and appetizers.
Even one step in the direction of operator convenience brings pizza down. Slice does not take that step. They make their own dough, hand-toss it, bake it in a very hot, stone-bottomed gas oven that yields an exciting, crisp-bottomed crust. First-class cheeses and cured meats and fresh vegetables make for great toppings. The offbeat daily specials–many of which don’t seem to belong in such a utilitarian place–shows that the people in the kitchen actually know how to cook.
The owners of Juan’s Flying Burrito opened the Lee Circle-area Slice in 2006, in a former dressmaker’s shop. The Magazine Street branch came to be in 2010, opening in an old neighborhood cafe with many identities before Slice. (The most famous was the Friendly House.)
The St. Charles Avenue location is a long, narrow room with a beat-up tile and concrete floor. It seems to stretch a full city block, interrupted by the entire kitchen, ending in a bar. Tables run through the entire place. The open kitchen not only allows a good look at the proceedings, but lets the aroma make you hungry while you wait for the pasta or the pie. The Magazine Street location has a more conventional setup, but is still a well-worn antique.
Garlic bread and sauce
»Mussels in garlic-basil broth
Nosh (antipasto) plate
Mixed greens salad
»Mesclun salad (organic petite greens, goat cheese, walnuts, local berries)
With red sauce or olive oil, toppings of choice These are some house specialties:
»The white pie (olive oil, mozzarella, ricotta, romano, garlic)
Special (pepperoni, Italian sausage, meatball, onion, mushroom, peppers, green and kalamata olives, extra cheese)
Meat lover’s pie
Greek (artichoke, feta, olives, red onions, anchovies)
»Spinach, sun dried tomato, and artichoke pie
Bacon, basil, and garlic pie
»Prosciutto, gorgonzola, and arugula pie
Shrimp and andouille pie
Roasted garden calzone
Trucker calzone (pepperoni, italian sausage, bacon, ham)
»MTB (mozzarella, tomato, basil pesto)
»Barbecue shrimp poor boy
Grilled salmon panini
Bacon, basil, and chicken ravioli
»Four cheese ravioli
»Aglio olio linguine
Spaghetti and meatballs
»Portofino pasta (shrimp, broccoli, garlic sauce, linguine)
Popstars icicle treats
FOR BEST RESULTS
If the place is busy, get your order in immediately at the front counter. By the time the pizza is ready, a table will open. Settle in the rear for a glass of wine or a cocktail. It will be awhile before a pizza appears, but that’s a good sign. Ask whether they have a wine dinner going on. If so, ask about it; it’s so ambitious that you may be tempted.
OPPORTUNITIES FOR IMPROVEMENT
The shabbiness may be a bit much for some fastidious people. (No cleanliness problem, though.) There’s not really a good place to wait when the restaurant is busy.
FACTORS OTHER THAN FOOD
Up to three points, positive or negative, for these characteristics. Absence of points denotes average performance in the matter.
- Dining Environment -2
- Consistency +1
- Value +1
- Attitude +1
- Wine & Bar +1
- Hipness +1
- Local Color
- Sidewalk tables
- Open Sunday lunch and dinner
- Open Monday lunch and dinner
- Open all afternoon
- Quick, good meal
- Good for children
- Easy, nearby parking
- No reservations
ANECDOTES AND ANALYSIS
In a decade, New Orleans progressed from being a mediocre pizza town to a pretty good one. As it did, the attention went to pizzas made either by major chefs like John Besh or Adolfo Garcia, or in minimal, far-off-mainstream joints like Pizza Delicious and Neely’s. The presence of a wood-burning stone oven got so much respect that one wondered whether genuflection were required.
While all that was going on, Slice was baking conventional but excellent New York-style pizzas, in the medium-thin-crust style we actually love, with very little baloney (except as a pizza meat).