Ever since my dad returned home from Caserta’s on Federal Hill decades ago with a crispy, steaming pie topped with tomato sauce, cheese, pepperoni, and black olives in that iconic red-and-white box, I’ve had an enduring love affair with pizza. One night in late summer, I needed a quick fix and stumbled upon Slice & Company: a hip, new, standing-only pizza joint in East Greenwich launched in June by three friends: Mollie Reynolds, Jason Kindness, and Ming Wu.
In New York City, where I’ve spent a lot of time, the classic cheesy slice, a thin, floppy wedge that most New Yorkers fold before eating, is never more than a few blocks away. I prefer mine unfolded, severing gooey strands of mozzarella stretching from mouth to slice with my fingers. The arrival of Slice & Company just inched Rhode Island’s pizza scene a bit closer to a perfect New York slice – no need for folding.
About 16 assorted pies like Figgy Piggy, Drunken Prom Queen, and Maui-Waui were ready for reheating. The “Frankie Funguy”, a golden brown, blistered crust and a hint of char, smothered with roasted mushroom ricotta, mozzarella, pepperoni, and shiitake mushrooms and braised in Whalers Rise beer was slid, steaming from the oven. I ordered a slice and savored the rich fusion of flavors, light crunch, and tender shiitakes raised on Little Compton logs by Jason’s dad.
“Something local touches every pie,” said Jason, who sources ingredients from family and community. They also make their own tomato sauce, hand tossed dough, sausage, and flavored ricotta.
Two months before opening, Jason didn’t know how to make pizza, so he invited Angelo Carlone, owner of North Carolina’s famed Tipsy Tomato, for a three-day pizza marathon. “His crust was the best I ever had,” said Jason, “flavor and a bit of a char.”
Jason, also a partner at nearby 241 Main and Kai Bar, was named “Most Imaginative Bartender” by GQ in 2014. Using dough as blank canvas, he’s adapting his cocktail wizardry to artful, imaginative pizzas, and with his partners, creating novel pies like Captain Waffles – mozzarella, Captain Crunch-breaded fried chicken, waffles, bacon, drizzled maple syrup, and a sprinkle of Captain crumbs. I’m a pizza purist, but was surprised at how much I enjoyed this best seller. (Too bad they’re not open for breakfast, it could be a perfect way to start the day.)
Late night crowds spilling out of local bars have discovered Slice & Company as the go-to for satisfying pizza. “We needed this,” said Neil Cottrell, a frequent customer, who noted the dearth of late night choices after bar hopping. His companion, Natasha sampled Napoleon Dynamite, the evening’s special – tater tots, ranch dressing, bacon, and Captain Crunch fried chicken. “You see different pies every time,” she said. “Never know what you’re going to get.”
Innovation seems to be the rule here, without sacrificing tradition. Slice & Company offers the most unusual combinations I’ve encountered, but my favorite was Littlefoot: tasty crust topped with roasted garlic ricotta, mozzarella, bok choy, caramelized onion, and parmesan – YUM! I also enjoyed the Drunken Prom Queen, Slice’s take on the Margherita with pesto and parmesan added. My friend Patricia got hooked on Frankie Funguy.
Slice’s vibe is upbeat – catchy “bop-worthy” tunes, seductive aromas, and warm, friendly staff. Local band Rocksteady Reggae was playing the night I was there. “The key is hospitality. Be kind to people, welcome them, speak to them,” said Jason, echoing the import of his surname. “Hospitality buys your way out of a lot of mistakes.”
Slice & Company
207 Main Street, East Greenwich • 885-1117