We wanted to make true Italian pizza, so we started by opening one block from the Italian Market. Then, we made pizza. For months we baked and tasted, mixed and flipped until what we had would beat any Americanized slice of pizza out there. Most consider us gourmet, we consider ourselves what pizza was meant to be.
SliCE is an award-winning Neapolitan style pie. This means our dough is made fresh each day with the best flour. Then, it’s hand tossed and topped first, with the highest grade mozzarella cheese, and then with our homemade, hand crushed San Marzano tomato sauce. Lastly, we finish the pie with extra virgin olive oil. Each pizza is baked on hot stones and cooked to a crisp, delicious perfection. The outcome is a thin, lightly topped, fragrant pie.I'm going to (politely) dispute the term "Neapolitan" applied to this pie, because it ain't the puffy crusted leopard spotted style you'd find at Zavino or Stella. This thin crisp crust has lots more in common with pie in Rome, in Tuscany, and in Trenton than with pie in Naples. But SLiCE is not the first pizza joint to misuse the term.
|Americano with arugula. Click any pic to enlarge!|
Rick Nichols, writing in the Philadelphia Inquirer, spoke to SLiCE's founder and confirmed its Trenton-based inspiration. Excerpts from his article (full story HERE) :
DeLorenzo's (my review HERE) serves "tomato pies" with the mozzarella is on the bottom and the crushed tomato is on the top, making its flavor the distinguishing characteristic. The thin crust supremely crunchy, the cheese playing second fiddle, the bright tomatoes perfectly balanced and tart-sweet. For SLiCE owner Jason Dilks, growing up near Yardley PA, De Lorenzo's was true north, the place he gravitated to for pizza.
At SLiCE I bought a slice of the Americano, the style closest to the Trenton original, the melted mozzarella smiling up through the splotches of San Marzano tomato. Dilks says he combines bread flour and two other flours with a secret ingredient in his daily dough.
Dilks' standard of crispness? "My ideal is to hold a slice out straight; I don't want it to sag." Neither does he want a fat lip rim around the perimeter: "I don't like to chew through all that crust." Here the surrounding border is just as thin and flat as the rest of the base. It's what's not in the sauce, he says, that counts. If my memory serves, De Lorenzo's simply hand-crushed canned California tomatoes, adding a little tomato puree and a touch of seasoning. (At Slice, the oregano is a whiff.)
The mozzarella is a brand called Grande, out of Brooklyn, which Dilks says resists burning on the stones in the heat of the gas oven. And that's it, almost. There's a final dusting of Parmesan, a swirl of extra virgin olive oil. You can add sausage from Maglio's, the sausage house near Third and Pattison.Enough backstory - let's talk about our slices at SLiCE! My out-of-town guests were a sophisticated group, and two nights earlier we had all thoroughly enjoyed the fine fare at Garces Trading Company. (Duck fat fries!) But, even as residents of a midwestern legendary pizza town, they were east-coast pizza noobs, and they gleefully violated almost every pizza tenet that I hold dear.
They resisting cured meat toppings, piled enough veggies on a slice to make it into a bread-based salad bowl, and added pineapple to Trenton tomato pie. But their graciousness (and tolerance of my pizza snobbery) more than made up for their, ummm, curious pizza choices. Heck, I'd even go to Pizza Hut in order to share a meal with such fine company.
|Americano with sausage|
Our preferences were too wide apart to agree on two or three pies to share, so in compromise we got one basic Americano to which we added garlic and arugula, and then we each chose a slice of our own (you can order by the slice or whole pies).
|Good spotting and cracked from slight folding!|
I got lucky and seized upon a slice of a sausage pie fresh out of the oven, as Nichols had described. Lovely, uneven big chunks of real Italian sweet sausage. The crust was snappy crisp, full of flavor, thin and flat, yet still with a nice chew. It easily supported not only my properly crafted slice, but also the slices my out-of-town friends ordered, loaded up with wet vegetables and fruits.
|Alice, Californian with overloaded slice|
|There is a slice of pizza under there somewhere!|
The sauce surely did dominate the cheese, but not quite in the magical way that DeLorenzo's hits. To my taste, the DeLorenzo tomatoes are sweeter, less acidic, and the DeLo cheese is saltier and more robust, and a bit more of it peeks out from under the crushed tomatoes. This was a wonderful and satisfying slice at SLiCE, but not magical like Trenton's Papa's Tomato Pies (review HERE) or DeLorenzo's.
|Chicagoan Irfan demonstrates: No Tip Sag|
Adding garlic to the Americano was a splendid idea. Adding arugula was kinda pointless. I like pizza, I like arugula, but I prefer them separately most of the time. Arugula works on a Neapolitan pie or a white pie, but not on a red sauce pie. This pie was much like my slice of sausage pie, minus the sausage. Easy to eat a lot of it, too, because of the thin crust.
|Chicagoan Gary's well-chosen slice|
I don't have much to say about the produce-laden slices that my pals ordered, other than that they enjoyed them and the crust stood up to the load. They promised to take me to Pizano's for thin-crust pizza when I next visit Chicago. I may have to ferret out some deep-dish, too, even though I'm a skeptic.
|Chicagoan Enriqueta's pineapple pie|
Philly is a town with a LOT of great pizza: Zavino, $tella, O$teria, Tacconelli's, Nomad, Pitruco, Rustica, Pizzeria Pesto. Verdict: SLiCE also qualifies as destination pizza. The crust earns a 9, the cheese an 8, the tomatoes a 7, the sausage a 9.5. Bonus points that you can get SLiCE by the slice.