Texas Monthly : First Look Inside the New Home Slice

“We grew up having special experiences in dark Italian restaurants,” says Jen Strickland, who co-owns Austin’s wildly popular Home Slice pizza joint, along with her husband, Joseph, and best friend from New York University, Terri Hannifin. “As a kid, you don’t even know why it’s special, but as adults we found ourselves looking for that kind of atmosphere when we wanted to celebrate something. We are always seeking authenticity.”

To create the gallery wall that welcomes guests at the front door, Strickland bought vintage paintings that she gave to artist friends to add their own touches. She even painted a few of them herself. The red vinyl banquettes throughout the dining room pay homage to the dark, Italian restaurants of her youth in Western New York. Photography by John Davidson

 

That authentic vibe has drawn Austinites to Home Slice since the fun and funky restaurant started serving New York–style pizza, meatball subs, and calzones on South Congress Avenue in 2005. Strickland, a writer and former food editor for the Austin Chronicle, pitched the idea to Hannifin as an antidote to all of the pizza chains. Their concept immediately resonated, and they soon expanded to a location next door with More Home Slice, a designated space for the influx of to-go orders. Even with a packed house every night of the week, they haven’t been in a rush to grow to other parts of the city. But a few years ago, they felt a pull of nostalgia for the early years when they knew all the regulars. They looked around for the right location before finally finding the place in northeast Austin, near the Hyde Park/North Loop neighborhoods.

Now, the long-awaited second location, which will offer a similar menu to the original location along with craft cocktails and Sicilian pizza, officially opens May 30, with limited seating available until then. At the new spot, the trio have created that dark Italian atmosphere, but with modern twists—a graffiti mural painted between Roman-like columns; a depiction of Grandmaster Flash spinning a pizza—and brought the cool factor with their special brand of creative flair that emanates in every inch of the beautiful, layered space. There seems to be a story behind every clever design element.

“We have been craving getting back to families being able to walk over for dinner,” says Strickland, who lives near the new location. “It’s nearly impossible for people to drive down to South Congress from north Austin for an early dinner during the week in five o’clock traffic.” And it looks like the community couldn’t be happier about their new neighbor. Across the street, a banner hangs reading, “Welcome Home Slice!”

The rainbow pattern across the front of the outdoor bar is similar to a sticker Strickland had on her childhood skateboard. The brass pendants are a find from Room & Board. Photography by John Davidson

 

With Strickland and Hannifin leading the interior design scheme, they have captured exactly the classic and inviting feel they were going for with rows of red vinyl banquettes and candlelit red-and-white-checked tablecloths, set below vintage chandeliers and globe pendants lights. With the original Home Slice, the Stricklands and Hannifin changed the pizza scene, which now has great locally owned options, and now they are set to do it again with this new, surprising space. It’s eighties NYC. It’s Hollywood Regency. It’s punk rock. It’s Rat Pack. And somehow, thanks to their design vision and artistry, it all works together in a special way that’s sure to resonate with a new world of devoted fans in North Austin.

Quirky paintings like this one of Grandmaster Flash spinning a pizza are found throughout the restaurant. The work over the red damask velvet wallpaper is by Abraham Mong. The art is above the corner booth, which Strickland calls the best, coziest seat in the house. “We’ve been calling it the ‘rock star booth,’ because that’s where we’d all want to sit,” she says. “It reminds me of those pictures from Studio 54 of celebrities and their entourages partying in those black high-backed booths that look like caves.” Photography by John Davidson

 

The rainbow pattern across the front of the outdoor bar isThe play area on the side porch was modeled after a playground in Washington Square Park that has turf beams with nets. Strickland says: “I always loved because it was so organic and it served lots of different ages of kids. I wanted something that was unique and fun for kids where they could use their imaginations!” Photography by John Davidson

 

 

Article originally published on Texas Monthly