Even the most achingly cool ‘ster, in his high-and-tight waxed-up haircut, Rizlas, and fixed-gear bike, eventually settles down, gets fat, and sheepishly resigns himself to a BMW and 2.5 babbitts. Similarly, “street food”, that mildly oxymoronic concept that started in hot & dusty places no hipster would actually be caught dead in (say Bamako, Beijing or Bombay), came to the less posh bits of London in 2011 and by 2013 is firmly established in pricey, zoomlens-central Neal’s Yard. Homeslice started out as a mobile pizza shack in a few locations around London, and like Pizza Pilgrims (which operates out of a Piaggio Ape in Berwick Street Market), served great pizza with no frills. They now operate out of a small restaurant in Covent Garden.
The pizza is really good. I went in planning to have two slices, ended up eating four (£4 each). The margherita is great, very little cheese, super thin & light crust. The courgette & artichoke was more substantial and chewy with the courgette barely cooked. They also have more adventurous dishes like bone marrow & caramelised onion, but only as a full 20″ pie. I’m pretty sure I could get through a full pie at lunch, chase it with a little Chartreuse at the French House, and be in good shape for a big dinner. Hard to say that for, say, Franco Manca… There wasn’t much/any char on the bottom of my slices but not sure if that was because I was there early at lunchtime.
Regarding pizza-by-the-slice generally, Homeslice have a good chance of successfully transplanting the “taglio” (basically pizza by weight) concept from Italy to the UK; 2011/2012 saw a spate of taglio pizzerias, most of which had greasy leaden fare, served by slightly shifty characters (Italian or otherwise), who seemed to know their wares were dodgy, who warmed the slices up in those ghastly electric toaster-oven like things. The things came to you seeping ancient rancid oil, like something out of a really nasty fry-up in early-1990s London. Unlike in Italy there simply isn’t enough customer volume to keep the pizza turning over and inevitably the product ages thereby. Even Princi’s pre-made pizza is necessarily closer to foccaccia. Homeslice sell 3 of their pizzas by the slice, and while these are pre-made, they are in small enough quantities that there’s (probably) little risk of getting a pie past its prime. That being said, the crust is very thin so there little tolerance for error – my slices went soft pretty quickly, but not as quickly as I dispatched them.
Incidentally, the outer crust ring, the “cornicione”, was excellent; historically, the rich in Naples wouldn’t be caught dead eating it, for it was conspicuously poor people’s food, and would be gathered from pizzerias, to be sold or given away on the street.
Speaking of sordid port towns, I hope they bring in one pizza variation that is awesome but rarely found (basically a Marinara) – tomato, origano, garlic, capers & anchovy – the one at Chez Etienne in Marseilles’ Panier neighbourhood will live forever in my taste memory – as will the hard men dealing drugs outside.
Some niggles: no fork, knives, or plates (other than paper) give the place a pretty pessie feel, which is fine if one is eating on the street out of a shack in Hackney, or at a New York pizzeria (and in both cases paying a lot less than six dollars a slice). It’s not great at an otherwise polished sit down restaurant. A salad would be good as well. Wine at £4/glass is okay price but not especially cheap, belying the mildly gimmicky bottles which are measured when the bill is made up (this is a nod to humbler places in Italy, with the difference that those places mostly are under €1/glass)!
Both those are all points of economics and style, the important thing is the pizza is excellent, and saves one the trip to Franco Manca, now that Spaccanapoli has left Soho.