“You hung up on the pizza place? I don’t hang up on your friends!” – Joey Tribbiani
Did someone say, pizza? Friends? Pizza with friends? Pizza with friends, whilst quoting Friends? Well, ponder no more, your pizza prayers have been answered in the form of market stall turned rustic restaurant, Homeslice.
I recently visited the Wells St branch to celebrate my birthday. It’s a cool, industrial space and in spite of minimal decor, it creates a great vibe for a party meal – low level lighting, a strong playlist and a cocktail-serving bar area downstairs for us all to hang out in pre-feast. Once we had ordered our mojitos, g and t’s and craft beers, we sat at the biggest table on the ground floor. I was glad about this, the basement tables can feel a tad remote.
Now, at Homeslice, size does matter. What the menu lacks in length, the pizzas well and truly make up for in width. At 20 inches in diameter, they are the Billy Vunipola of pizzas – they really pack a punch. It is a one between two, often three, kind of place. You can order by the slice though, if you are just passing by.
I know that our much-loved fictional friend Joey “doesn’t share food”, and I’m not normally one to commit this cardinal sin, but this is a restaurant made for sharing. As the pizzas arrived, we could only fit three of them on the table at a time. We all delved into the forearm-length slices, and as we’d split toppings per half pizza, choice was aplenty.
The mundane margarita, despite topping the menu, paled in comparison to wacky alternatives and like Donald Trump’s hair brush, we swept right over it. Firstly, we ordered the mushroom, ricotta, pumpkin seed and chilli. Who said vegetarian options have to be boring? This combination is really reflective of the adventurous tastes on offer. It had no tomato, but retained sweetness. It was earthy with a mild spice, but a couple of friends commented that they would only bother with the one slice of it. ‘Too samey’ I think was the phrase used. What followed was the extravagant oxtail, horseradish and sorrel cream, the brisket and pickles with a sweet BBQ base and the unique goat shoulder and Savoy cabbage. I confess, we did also order the caprese, which was a delightful palette cleanser from the powerful tastes elsewhere.
These bold pizza ingredients may not dot the i’s and cross the t of ‘Italian’, but they aren’t supposed to. The bases are thin and wood-fired but the heritage ends there. There’s no nod to the Neopolitan when you grab one of the foot-long slices, and its gooey cheesy, topping-coated centre flops down over your hand and chin as you try to reel it in with your tongue. Romeo, O Romeo, where art thou your manners? Rest assured, this is not romantic first date food. Here you eat off paper plates and there is no cutlery in sight. You’ll likely be rolling yourself home afterwards too.
So how does it compare to my other pizza preference, Franco Manca? Both offer great value for money and the decor is similar too. But the food – therein lies the difference. I love Franco Manco for its focus on the organic, the minimal, the considered preparation of the dough and how you never walk out feeling like you just committed carbicide. Yet I love Homeslice for the absolute opposite – the gluttony, the crazy toppings, the drama of gigantic pizzas. So I guess it just comes down to the occasion on the day. If you’re looking for a creative, messy feast to share with friends, you should already know by now homies which one to choose.