A Hamburger Today
Work-in-Progress Pies (and Everything Else) at Slice & Pint in Atlanta
Slice & Pint
1593 North Decatur Road, Atlanta, GA 30307 (Map); 404-883-3406; sliceandpint.com
Pizza type: Somewhere between NY-style and Neapolitan, with gourmet-ish toppings
Oven type: Gas
The Skinny: College campus pizzeria/microbrewery trying to fancy up a old landmark location; results TBD
Price: The Carlos, $15; White, $14.50
When Everybody's Pizza announced its closing back in March, the news was largely met with that same sort of reaction that you have when you hear that somebody like Andy Griffith has died. Sort of an immediate, "Oh, that's too bad. I liked him," quickly followed by a sheepish, "I didn't realize he was still alive." The Emory Village institution had been slinging college pies for 40+ years, but truth be told, I hadn't been there in ages.
Now breathing new life into the space is Slice & Pint, a pizzeria/brewery that opened in late July under the leadership of the same folks behind 5 Seasons Brewing Company. But from the beer that they haven't started brewing yet to fanciful-sounding pizzas that never quite meet expectations, Slice & Pint is still—almost four months in—definitely a work in progress.
You can build your own pie here, opting for one of three crust types, one of seven sauces, eight cheeses, seventeen veggies, and fifteen meats. You'll find regional classics like Vidalia onions and Grandma's pimento cheese, and local gems like Portuguese chorizo from Heywood's and sorghum pork belly bits from The Spotted Trotter. You can go with a small, medium, or large pie, or use the toppings build your own individual slice. But the stars of the S&P lineup are the 12-inch specialty pies. There are eleven to choose from, but the one I had scoped out from the start was The Carlos:
"Spicy and smokey (sic) chipotle adobo sauce, Heywood's Portuguese chorizo, White Oak Pastures' grassfed ground beef, mozzarella, cheddar cheese, roasted local corn, green onions, and cilantro." Yes, they put the word "spicy" in italics. And bold type.
And they meant it. The Carlos ($15) undoubtedly brings the heat, to the point that it literally numbed my mouth after a few bites. I'd love to tell you about the complexities of the chorizo and the subtle differences in taste and flavor between it and the ground beef... but all I could taste was fire. I picked up on some textural crunch from the onions and even the corn, but it was simply a case of just too much heat. Don't get me wrong; I like a little kick, but this was a steel-toed (and flaming) boot being jammed straight up my taste buds. Spice is nice. It should accent the rest of what I'm eating, though, not drown everything else out.
Sadly, the other pizza at my table on this day suffered from a similar malady. The White ($14.50) sounds more subdued: brushed with olive oil and roasted garlic topped with housemade mozzarella, provolone, feta, and parmesan. Pretty. What they don't specify, though, is the presence of whole cloves of garlic dotting the gooey surface of the entire pie. Maybe you like garlic. Perhaps you even love garlic. I do. But when I can still residually taste a pizza six hours and three tooth-brushings later, I'm going to go ahead and say "too much."
A shame, really, because I like what Slice & Pint has going on with their dough. They're rightfully proud of it, too, with a description printed right in the menu. "Our handmade pizza dough is brought to life by a special mix of Old World wild Italian yeast, our favorite Trappist beer yeast, and organic flour to give it a wonderful character not found anywhere else." Mine had a little crunch, a nice chew, a noticeably yeasty flavor, and it supported the often-heavy-handed toppings easily. Yes, a lot to like about this pizza base.
Underneath, the char-spotting may have you thinking wood-fired, but Slice & Pint uses a regular ol' gas deck oven. So somebody back there clearly knows what they're doing. I just wish that kind of beautifully-rendered detail translated to the rest of my experience at Slice & Pint.
We typically don't do full-blown restaurant reviews here, tending to focus instead on the pizza, but the not-quite-ready-for-prime-time theme unfortunately carried over from the pies to everything else for me and colored the overall experience to the extent that I'd be remiss if I didn't mention it.
Take that "Pint" part of the name. Slice & Pint was conceived from Day One as a pizzeria/brewery, but crews are still working on the microbrewery space next door (which will reportedly feature 8-10 house beers, including at least one that will spotlight the same yeast they use in the pizza dough). Right now, however, it's still a boarded-up construction site. I washed my lunch down with a bottled root beer—one of TEN on the menu. Awesome, right? Well, not when the server rattles off the three that they're out of right from the jump. C'mon, man; seven out of ten earned you a D- when I was in school.
I am confident that Slice & Pint will do just fine. They have a killer location with a sweet outdoor patio overlooking the traffic circle on the main drag of an affluent college campus. A great apps menu, dessert pizzas and late night sweets, pizzas, and beer... the kids will come. For the rest of us pie fans, I'm not sure Slice & Pint is a legitimate destination kind of joint quite yet. Maybe they will be. But they need to tidy up some details, finish up what they've promised to deliver, and perhaps ease up on some of the punch-you-in-the-palate toppings.
About the Author: Todd Brock lives the glamorous life of a stay-at-home freelance writer in the suburbs of Atlanta. Besides being paid to eat cheeseburgers for AHT, pizzas for Slice, and desserts for Sweets, he's written and produced over 1,000 hours of television and penned Building Chicken Coops for Dummies. When he grows up, he wants to be either the starting quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys or the drummer for The Gaslight Anthem. Or both.