Anyway, almost 10 years later, and here we are at Homeslice. They started off in a van, and opened up their bricks and mortar place in Covent Garden's Neals Yard just under two years ago, with help from investor Mark, none other than Terry Wogan's son. On a Monday night by 7pm the place was full; we were able to put our names down and wander off for 25 minutes before we were called back again. A huge pizza oven dominates the back of the room, lit with harsh fluorescent lighting - very Naples. For the rest of the restaurant, the room is atmospherically lit with candlelight (so, you know, dark), and tables are squeezed closely together. There is some great tiling.
There is no messing with the menu. It's chalked up on a blackboard for all to see, and some pizzas are offered by the slice for £4 per slice, while others are £20 for a 20 inch pizza. Fine, I thought. 20 inches between 2? Absolutely fine. I remembered Pulcinella's.
It was not fine. I died from carbicide. I am not 19 anymore, god DAMN it. Sure, sure, they will give you a pizza box to take leftovers home. I watched an incredibly annoying couple on the table next to us package up at least 60% of their pizza to take home but on account of their annoyingness I refused to do so lest I become anything like them. Also, I have no self control.
But what of the pizza? It's good. The bases are thin, the crust (or cornicione) is pillowy and chewy. A little saltier than what I'm used to. The toppings are inventive; they have the classic margherita (which would be incredibly poor value at £20 for 20 inches) but they also do others like goat shoulder with kale, yoghurt and sumac, or chorizo, corn and coriander - which would have been my choice, had I not been a bit weirded out by the thought of coriander on a pizza.
Instead, we went for half and half of bone marrow with brussels sprouts and pickled onion, and Calabrian peppers with chervil and Lincolnshire Poacher (a type of cheese). Would it have killed them to take the stem off the peppers? That was a bit troublesome. But otherwise, the spicy pickled peppers worked beautifully with the rich cheese. The brussels sprouts were shaved very thinly, like a carpet of vegetable. This was the least favoured side as the bone marrow wasn't hugely flavoursome. The brussels sprouts kept flaking off into my wine glass too - lumpy wine. That is my fault though. The main issue I had was that both sides were a bit similar - again, our fault - next time, something like mushroom and ricotta would complement it well.
A word on the wine. Red, white or fizzy? They plonk a giant bottle of it on your table, which you help yourself to, and then at the end of the meal they measure how much you've drank and charge you appropriately (£4 for a glass of red). This is GENIUS - no hanging around having to finish your wine, thus freeing up tables, and no indecision on whether another bottle is a good idea (it usually is). Loved it. I assume everyone is adult enough not to go poking their fingers / bits of stuff into the bottles. Right?
13 Neal's Yard
London WC2H 9DP