The more things change the more they (sorta) stay the same. Just as Ironside called it quits on their SOMA location the space was snapped up by noted Bay Area pizza impresario Tony Gemignani. He of Tony's Pizza Napoletana, Tony's Slice House and Capo's, to name a few. It's called Slice House and it's serving up the same slices and pies you can find at his other Slice House locations around the Bay Area. He opened a few weeks ago, just in time for the Giants first home game, natch. They didn't really change out any of the decor from the previous tenant. Outside of a few photos of pizza, the space is pretty much the same as it was. In this instance, that works, I mean the space is what it is and was already generic enough to move from one thing to the next without needing to spend money on changes. Tony's is meant to be all about the pizza and it's what I was intent on trying since this was a new place in my own personal hood and I want to try and support them, even though I know their target right now is SOMA day workers and Giants fans. We'll see how things shake out once ball season is over, for now, let's have a slice of pie!
Their menu has a small array of sandwiches, salads and such. (Plus they offer a selection of 13 inch pies, but only after 3pm) I'm here at lunch and thinking since it's called Slice House, that is what I'm gonna stick to and make a point to try all four of their everyday slice offerings. I hadn't been to the original Tony's location in North Beach in a few years, it's become a go to tourist spot, thus it is hard to even get in these days. It will be like a refresher course in his pizza to see if it lives up to all the hype and if it could be mine and the SO's new go to spot now that one is so close to us.
First up is the grandma combo at $6 a pop. A thick square slice with sauce, mozzarella and basil--simple and basic. Me personally, I hesitate to call this a slice of pizza, the bread is thick and buttery, it is more like focaccia bread with toppings. I like the fresh chunks of mozzarella and the bread is both soft inside and crispy at the crust edge. The sauce runs a tad sweet for me though. Not enough for me to stop eating mind you, but just noticeable enough that is was the first thing my taste buds registered when I bit into it. I guess this is where it comes down to personal tastes in pizza sauces. I like mine a touch more on the spicy oregano side as opposed to the sweet tomato one, which this one is. Not a bad thing per se, just a personal flavor profile.
The Sicilian is the other combo slice on offer. Again, this is the thick focaccia like bread with toppings. This time with mozzarella, pepperoni and Italian sausage. For me, this holds up better against the sweet sauce. The meat is spicy and there is more cheese resulting in a closer balance of flavors between all the toppings and sauce. Of the two thick slices I preferred this one the best, mostly because the sauce was tempered and of course, I'm all about the pork meat products. The pepperoni and sausage are both appropriately spicy and flavorful adding a great kick to this square of bread. Cheese, bread, meat--it is like an open faced sandwich--for less than you'd probably pay for an actual sandwich version of this.
Tomato Pie with Cheese and Basil $5.50 Pepperoni $5.25
Also on offer are standard size slices with Tony's traditional crust. The tomato and basil could have used more basil and that sauce is back again.It's really almost like a thin crust version of the Grandma's. Not sure why it's more than the pepperoni, which again, I preferred. The slices are slightly bigger than average and you get a generous supply of pepperoni enabling you to have one in every bite. Plus props also for avoiding the "soggy tip syndrome" that can happen with thinner crust pizzas. Here it stays crisp and holds up to the sauce and toppings. As someone who lives in the neighborhood and would visit this place often, I do wish these size slices were about $1 cheaper. Right now they seem like ballpark prices. I guess market forces pricing and all that stuff. It is part of the un-joys of living near AT&T Park--more places seem to cater to Giants fans more so than those of us who live here. Ok, that's my rant for today.
While Tony's isn't my favorite pizza in the city, they do make a nice crispy crust for thin and a soft 'n buttery one for their thick combos. Plus it is nice to have a new spot in the neighborhood filling a small void for some quick take out pizza slices if I'm suddenly hankering for a hunk of cheese. Prices are a touch on the high side (their 13 inch pies are $22) though getting a thick slab of the Sicilian is your best bargain for a filling slice and still cheaper than a sandwich. Hopefully they will do well and expand their slice offerings for those of us in the hood who could be be frequenting them often. After all, like the old saying goes--pizza is like sex--when it's good, it's really good. When it's bad, well, it's still pretty good.