The idea of serving pizza by the slice grew out of the shift from coal- to gas-powered ovens in 1930s New York City. Pizzas tended to bake up a little drier in the newer ovens, giving them a longer shelf life. This made taking a slice home and reheating it a more feasible proposition.
New Yorkers embraced the slice, even perfecting a way to fold it along the diagonal for tidier consumption. Within a few decades, pizza by the slice was available throughout the country.
In Albuquerque, Dion’s has been the dominant player in the pizza slice market, serving its big, doughy slabs since the 1970s. The success of Slice Parlor, a more recent arrival, proves there’s an appetite in the city for the thinner-crust version known as New York-style pizza.
Friends Adam Moffett and Doug Crowder opened the first Slice Parlor in Nob Hill 10 years ago. The concept of pairing slices and calzones with local brews proved successful, and in 2016, they expanded to a former post office on the south side of Montgomery in the Northeast Heights. An outpost of Marble Brewery sits next door.
During a recent weekday lunch, a few parties sat on a shaded patio on the north side of the building. The exterior is dressed up with metal cladding and orange awnings, courtesy of Coe and Peterson, the developers who have converted a number of existing properties around the city into restaurant complexes. Inside, the spacious, high-ceilinged dining room with a bar running along one side was about half-full. Two servers and a bartender staffed the place. Even with COVID’s delta variant raising a ruckus, there weren’t a lot of masks on display. The bartender wore one, but the servers did not.
Prices are a little higher than at Dion’s, but still a very good value. A massive slice that barely fits inside the pizza box costs $3.75, and a salad that feeds two is only $6. There are worthwhile daily specials; for instance, on Wednesday all beers are $3. That means you can celebrate Hump Day with a slice, a pint of beer and a cannoli for $10.
Among the six salads on the menu, the House Salad ($5.99) is a standout. Mushrooms, olives, green bell peppers, onions and tomato quarters are piled over a mix of spring greens. Everything was fresh, and a mound of sliced pepperoni and shredded mozzarella bulked it up enough for it to be a stand-alone lunch. The vinaigrette that was served with it in two lidded cups was quite sweet.
Slices come from three pizza bases.
Whole pies are available in two sizes: X-Large (18 inches) and Huge (24 inches).
The New York-style cheese slice ($3.75) showcased Slice Parlor’s terrific crust: thin, yet pliable and with lots of flavor. The thin lattice of melted cheese on top was just the right thickness, but it could have used a little more sauce.
A slice of pesto pizza with sun-dried tomatoes and artichokes ($5.25) delivered a noticeable garlic kick. The toppings added some acidic zing; that is, when they didn’t tumble off the slice.
This lack of integration between the toppings and cheese is the chief drawback of a getting a slice from a pie that’s pre-made and then finished in the oven after you order. It happens at Dion’s too.
Slice Parlor also offers a bunch of specialty pizzas, such as a BLT version that’s topped with romaine and tomato salad tossed in ranch dressing after it’s pulled from the oven.
A slice of the Zia pizza ($4.75) comes laden with green chile and pepperoni. The chile had plenty of smokiness and heat, but the pepperoni was a bit undercooked, a little shy of that sublime crisping that happens around the rim when it gets more time in the oven.
The gluten-free pie ($9.99) is not available by the slice. It had a very thin crust that wasn’t as flavorful as its glutenous counterpart. Still, it remained pliable, and the cheese and tangy, slightly sweet sauce were better balanced than in the regular cheese slice.
The selection of local beers on tap and in bottles includes lots of good summer brews that go well with pizza.
Pints are generally $5 or thereabouts, and half-pint servings are available. A crisp, refreshing Marble Pilsner ($3) from the brewery next door was a great complement to the pizza, with a slight, pleasant note of bitterness to relieve the fattiness of the cheese.
Slice Parlor keeps the New York City theme going in its dessert menu, offering cheesecake with strawberries and a cannoli for $2.99 each.
The latter is a credible housemade version of treat that traces its roots to Sicily and its name to canna, the river reeds that in the old days were cut into sections and used to form the molds for the pastry shells. Slice Parlor’s version had a crisp shell and a smooth, sweet ricotta filling studded with chocolate chips.
I ordered by phone and was given a 20-minute wait time, which was accurate. Service was prompt and friendly.
Slice Parlor’s namesake offerings provide good quality and value, and whatever’s left over will reheat well the next day.