Pizza and beer, across the street from a college campus. The formula worked pretty well for Everybody's Pizza, which lasted 41 years in Emory Village before owner Andy Kurlansky decided to retire back in March. Familiar with the merits of the pizza-beer combo, a team, including Crawford Moran, brewmaster at 5 Seasons Brewing Company, took over the former Everybody's space back in July and opened Slice & Pint, a new pizzeria and soon-to-be brewery.
Anyone who ever stepped foot in Everybody's will notice that the décor, dominated by bare-bones wood tables and that strange glass atrium overhead, remains largely intact at Slice & Pint. It feels like a bar. The most ambitious portion of this bar — the brewery — is still being built out in the space next door. Moran hopes to have eight to 10 house beers flowing by early 2014.
As for the food to go with that beer, Slice & Pint is not "just another pizza joint." There's a green curry pizza, house-made Riverview Farms pork rillettes, even a salad of kale and quinoa tabbouleh. Words like pasture-raised, local, seasonal, and, most prominently, house-made pop up all over the menu. It's surprising at first, but the globe-hopping, locavore vibe is refreshing when compared to the myriad Neapolitan-style joints that have sprung up all over town in the past several years.
Pizza makes up the majority of Slice & Pint's menu, but there are also small sections devoted to salads, sandwiches, and appetizers such as the gooey, lava-hot balls of fried house-made mozzarella and a random summer gazpacho. The salads include specials such as kale in various guises or roasted local beets. A chopped salad full of radicchio, chickpeas, and Genoa salami comes in a delightfully old-school Italian vinaigrette with plenty of oregano.
That said, I prefer the guilt-inducing appetizers that epitomize beer-friendly bar food: thin and crunchy fries topped with cool pimento cheese and jalapeño, or, best of all, the tater tots with a heavy dose of Parmesan cheese and a trio of unnecessary-but-addictive dipping sauces, including a wicked honey mustard.
The pizzeria has about a dozen signature pies, ranging from the simple (margherita) to the strange (fried green tomato with sorghum pork belly and pimento cheese). You can also choose to build your own, from a single slice to a calzone, with options on crust (including gluten-free), and sauces like pesto, barbecue, or even ranch. Slice & Pint's crust style escapes easy classification, but I'd say it is solidly American — not too far from New York, not anywhere near Naples. Prices — around $15 a pie — spare diners the sticker shock found at many pizzerias these days.
My early experiences were hit or miss, but the food seemed to improve with each visit. At first, the swine pie came out doughy and chewy — a gut-filler of a crust that undermined the smoked Riverview Farms pulled pork and vinegary barbecue sauce. On later visits the crust was less bready, the crunch came along nicely, and the dough's flavor started to show more prominently.
My table loved the green Thai curry pizza, a fusion adventure that could have gone horribly wrong had the sauce been too soupy or strong. Luckily, piles of bright basil and tender sliced eggplant and zucchini (sounds kind of Italian, right?) took the lead. The pie's subtle curry sauce melded with the other flavors surprisingly well. A sauce-less prosciutto and fig pizza with a thick layer of mozzarella and a sprinkling of bitter arugula hit all the right notes of salty and sweet, crunchy and tender.
While the brewery construction is underway, Slice & Pint offers a wide range of local craft beers on tap: Wild Heaven, Jailhouse, Monday Night, Red Brick, Three Taverns. These are complemented by a few standouts from further afield, like a luscious Chimay Triple, as well as the strangest wine list I've seen in a long time.
While the beer prices are friendly — $3 pours, $5 pints, and many $17 pitchers — the wine prices are mind-boggling. There are two cheap California wines on tap for $7 a glass, but then the least expensive red wine by the bottle is $38 (and they go from there up to $58). This is a pizza joint. Next to a college campus. Maybe Slice & Pint just wants to encourage beer sales?
Either way, pizza and beer is a winning combination. Slice & Pint's pizza may not be destination-worthy, but the use of fresh, quirky flavors and quality ingredients make it worthy of a detour.
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