I'm not afraid to admit to a fair degree of pizza snobbery, although it's an egalitarian form of elitism.
That attitude is pretty simple and can be summed up easily:
Chain pizzas, why bother?
You know exactly what you're getting, most of them aren't that good, and worst of all you're sending your money out of town to some corporate monolith. Better to try the local pizzas wherever you happen to be and see what they have to offer -- most are quite good and often they're exceptional -- instead of eating the boring old chain offerings.
Add Home Slice Pizza in downtown Toledo to our list of local joints that merit return visits and special trips downtown to sample the unique-for-this-region take on a familiar dish.
Located in the Warehouse District on St. Clair Street just around the corner from Fifth Third Field, Home Slice is brazen in its uniqueness. For example, if you walk in off the street and see no one in the place even though there are tables, a big counter with all the ovens in plain view, don't panic. This happened to us at lunch and dinner and the restaurant looked abandoned.
But head upstairs and there's a bar, more tables, an outdoor patio and, thankfully, people. The service was friendly and laid-back with a vibe that you'd just stopped over at a friend's house. The beer selections were iconoclastic -- some pumpkin ale, craft IPAs and lagers, Buckeye beer -- and the TV was playing the opening game of hockey season, but the place was relaxed and didn't have a sports bar hubbub.
The pizza selections we sampled ranged from top-notch to not very good at all.
The top offerings for us were the Carnivore ($12.95 for a large, $14.95 for extra large) and the Potato ($14/$16). Because Home Slice takes a New York-style approach to its crust, which is thin and light, ingredients are chopped pretty fine and the slices are not over-loaded with sauce, creating a pizza that's hearty without being all dough.
The Carnivore was covered in bacon, salami, pepperoni, sausage, and ham with some basil and it was an excellent balance of a meat-lover's pizza with flavors that all worked in concert with each other without being overwhelming.
This was our first foray into a Potato pizza and we'll be trying it again. Basically the potatoes are like thinly-sliced hash browns and the other toppings are bacon and cheddar cheese. A side of sour cream is supposed to come with it, but the waiter forgot ours and we didn't think to ask. No problem, though, because the pizza was excellent on its own. If there is such a thing as breakfast pizza (other than the cold slice you wolf down walking out the door when you're late for work) this is it.
We also ordered the Simon's White Pizza ($11.95/$13.95), which featured olive oil, ricotta, feta, onions, and sausage and it was just OK. The ingredients on this one never stood out and gave us any real kick.
And the Margherita ($11.95/$13.95) we're sorry to say came up considerably short. With olive oil, garlic, mozzarella, basil, and tomato, it should be a light blend of flavors without any of them standing out too much. Unfortunately, the garlic was way too strong -- either over-cooked or not cooked at all, I couldn't tell -- and the balance was off, giving the pizza a sharp, bitter after-taste.
Home Slice also serves lunch and we tried two sandwiches. The Italian Stallion -- ham, salami, pepperoni, lettuce, tomato, banana peppers, mayonnaise, and a five-cheese blend -- is served hot on ciabatta bread. It's a big hearty sandwich on crunchy bread that makes a filling lunch for $6.50.
The same can be said for the Toledo Turkey -- turkey, lettuce, tomato, basil, mayonnaise, and the five-cheese blend. It was $6.50 and we added bacon for 50 cents more to create a solid turkey club.
While salad might seem like a pedestrian thing to do well, we have to give Home Slice's Italian house serious kudos. At $3.45 for a huge side salad, it's a bargain and it comes piled with tomatoes, cucumber, green peppers, sweet red onion, pepperoni, pepperoncini peppers, ripe black olives, and cheese and a nice dressing. The ingredients were fresh and the salad made for a relatively healthy lunch side.
Home Slice has six other sandwiches, stromboli, calzones, and, of course, a wide variety of pizza options.
As the name implies, there's a homey, laid-back aspect of the downtown restaurant that works well. If you live in the 'burbs it's worth the quick trip downtown to try a pizza that's not cookie-cutter in an atmosphere where you'll no doubt feel quite comfortable.
HOME SLICE PIZZA
* * *
Address: 28 South St. Clair St.
Hours: 1 p.m. to 12 a.m. SUnday; 4:30 p.m. to 12 a.m. Monday; 11 a.m. to 12 a.m. Tuesday through Friday; 5 p.m. to 12 a.m. Saturday. *Bar may stay open later. Restervations are accepted.
Wheelchair access: Yes.
Average price: $$.
Credit cards: AE, Dis, MC, V.
Ratings: ***** Outstanding; **** Very Good; *** Good; ** Fair; * Poor.
Contact Bill of Fare at firstname.lastname@example.org.