“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.”
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!”
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.