Monday, April 6, 2009

Home Slice Pizza
1415 S Congress Ave
Austin, TX
(512) 444-7437‎

I was set to meet a my friend Brian at The Parlor for a pizza and to discuss a business venture. We were saddened to discover Sunday is not a good time to go to the The Parlor because, they are not open. So, Brian suggested Home Slice Pizza and since I'd never been there, and honestly didn't know much about it, I said sure, why not. I booked it down to South Congress where I had a vague memory of seeing it on some First Thursday months ago. The parking lot was almost full but, I managed to squeeze my tiny, yellow car into the last spot in the back. While I was waiting for Brian, I noticed a back patio, a walk-up window and a few cafe tables out front for sidewalk eating. I decided it would be a good place to post up for some serious people watching. I also decided to order a Pilzner Urquell from the walk-up window. I thought for sure they were going to say"sir, we can't serve alcohol to people on the sidewalk", but they didn't. So, I sat and sipped on a beer on a perfect day on South Congress and waited for a friend.

Brian arrived and, as a credit to the servers, we were seated right away. I suggested the back patio but, I was surprised to find out theres no waitstaff for the patio. You have to order at the bar that borders the kitchen then carry if yourself to the patio if you really need some Texas sunshine. So we opted for inside dining, instead. The interior is clean and sported some really cool art that was painted right onto the walls. You can even see the pizza chefs as they twirl dough and prepare food. I really like a place where the cooks are part of the action.

Once at the table we ordered a pitcher of beer (as my bottle was dwindling) and set to business. Real business, that is, and nothing that is germane to this website so. So let me, instead speak of the other "business": The menu. The beer selection for draught is limited, though it has decent (and local) choices. There is a good looking variety of salads, appetizers, calzones and subs available but, we had not come for any of these. This place is known for NY style pizza! The first 4 specialty pizzas really reflected Austin's local (i.e hippy veggie munching) palates but, neither Brian nor I can deny ourselves the flesh of animals (sorry Laura).

You can specify your own pizza but, I figure that I should judge the place on one of it's "tried & true" selections. It came down to either #5 Pepperoni & mushroom or #6 -Sausage, ricotta cheese and roasted red pepper. At this point, Brian tipped his hand and it was clear to me that he didn't just off-handedly suggested some pizza establishment down south. No, he was fully aware of this particular pizza's quality AND was a long time customer. (Sneaky) Brian said "#6 was absolute culinary porn" and who was I to go against a man who is a regular. So I responded "#6 it is!".

When the waitress dropped by again (wearing a Star Pizza shirt), she told us that it was trivia month and we would get 10% off if we could answer her one trivia question. Fortunately for us, I'm a bit of a Japan-o-file and the question regarded Japanese culture. Even before I thought to consult my colleague, I blurted out the answer... and some additional facts that related to it (sorry, Brian).

Now, the important part. The pizza! Steaming atop a shiny silver pedestal the pie was a feast for the eye as well as the stomach. It was accompanied by two small pizza pans that would serve as our plates. The crust (the very soul of a pizza) was off the charts delicious and was browned and blackened to perfection. The sausage and green peppers were cooked thoroughly and I believe the ricotta cheese was added in the last few minutes just to melt it lightly before serving. Awesome!
I pulled the first slice and noticed that it was not stuck to any other slices. Not by crust, not by bones (the part of the crust some people don't eat), and not by ingredient. Someone in that kitchen uses a amazing ginsu sharp pizza cutter. And even better yet, none of the ingredients slid off the crust as I picked up a slice.
A wide, thin crusted, slice of NY style pizza must be eaten only when folded in half (right down the middle for any uneducated pizza eaters), which is exactly what I did. I took the first, amazingly juicy, bite and immediately burned my "pizza spot"* (see below) - but I didn't' care. I took another bite and added insult to injury. But it was that good! Brian was right... ab*SO*lutely right. The #6 IS pizza porn.

It was a shame that we couldn't eat all of it, an even more of a shame that we forgot the leftovers on a picnic table at Independence Brewery. I can't wait to try another slice next time I find myself on the south side of Congress.

*the part of your upper palate just behind your central incisors that suffers from the burning hot ingredients on top of a slice of pizza
Bottom Line: Great pizza, a fun place to be, local beer on tap, fair price

Eric: 8 (withholding final judgement until I try some other food there)