The newest entry into the Bay View restaurant scene has the potential to become very successful. Classic Slice, located at 2797 S. Kinnickinnic Avenue (the SW corner of KK and California, just a block north of Outpost Foods) opened about a month or so ago and judging by the number of people in the restaurant and the quality of food, this place should be open for a long time…and probably has the potential to add more stores if they so chose.
The interior of the restaurant is very minimalistic but cool looking with large sections of track lighting and exposed ductwork. When I was there a nice mix of great indie rock played at a volume level that allows for normal conversation without having to raise your voice, which is appreciated. When you approach the counter you can pick from several of their house specialty slices or order a whole pie. Classic Slice is patterned after New York City style pizzerias where you can order a variety of traditional or unique pizzas by the slice. At most of the pizza joints I ate at during my visits to NYC the slices are par-cooked and displayed at the counter so you pick the ones that you want and they complete the cooking process in a few minutes and give you your order. Classic Slice does things a bit differently. What they do is allow you to pick and choose your ingredients, which is awesome. The basic cheese and and sauce slice is $3.50 and additional toppings are 50 cents each. The whole pie is 12 bucks for a 16 incher and 15 bucks for a 20 incher. Toppings for whole pies are a buck each.
They also offer some of their own house specialty slices and while pies including the “La Dolce Pizza” which is really just their name for the classic Margherita style pizza with tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, basil and garlic. There is “The Baconizer” (gotta love that name) which is loaded with bacon, sausage, mushrooms and pesto. Some of the more non-traditional offerings include some Vegan friendly pies to appease the large segment of Bay View residents who are vegan or vegetarian. The “Anne Curry” which has curry sauce, broccoli, spinach, mushrooms tofu and tomatoes sounds promising. There is also the “Mediterranean” which is loaded with olive tapenade, sun dried tomatoes, spinach mushrooms, and vegan sausage. It should be noted that the vegan pies as well as some other specialties can only be ordered as whole pies. There are also weekly slice specials listed on a chalkboard near the counter. On the day I visited the special was a slice with bacon, peppers, and a bunch of other ingredients that sounded like they would make a delicious slice however I decided to make my own creation and ordered mine with mushrooms and bacon.
I debated ordering two slices as that is what I would typically get in NYC or at a similar places in Madison like Sal’s or Ian’s. Then I saw a slice being brought to the counter. It was gigantic so I stuck with ordering one. After a couple of minutes my name was called. I picked up my slice, which was overlapping the 12 inch pizza pan that it is served on, and dusted it with crushed red peppers. I’ll have to admit it was love at first bite. You can argue about toppings until the cows come home but the crust makes or breaks a pizza and this one was as close to perfect as you will find. If the crust is too thick and bready it overpowers the toppings and if its too dry and crunchy it hurts your mouth when chewing. For anyone who has not eaten a New York style slice, you need to grab the pizza by the round edge, fold it in half as to resemble a large taco and begin eating. For this to work the crust has to be pliable enough to bend but still strong enough to support the toppings. The crust at Classic Slice struck that perfect balance by being crunchy and chewy at the same time. It was perfect. The kitchen has applied the right about of sauce and cheese to allow the toppings and the crust to share the spotlight. The smoky taste of bacon and earthy, fresh mushrooms were a nice combination and I would imagine that just about any topping offered at Classic Slice would have been great. My only complaint was a minor one; the topping and sauce seemed to end about 2-2 1/2 inches short of the outer edge of the pizza leaving a whole lot of crust exposed. There was at least an inch and a half that could have been utilized for more sauce, cheese, and toppings. Though by the time I reached that portion of the pizza I was getting pretty full. As I drove home I couldn’t help but think of how good this pizza was.
As I mentioned earlier, this place truly has the potential to expand to other places in the City and become an institution along the lines of Oakland Gyros. Its that good. I would imagine that a North Avenue location on the east side, a store near Marquette, and a Water Street location (kind of like when Brooklyn’s sold slices back in the 90s) would all be quite successful so long as they were open until after bar time. I would highly recommend heading to Bay View and checking this place out as soon as possible. You will not regret it. In fact I think I may go there again today.
Classic Slice, 2797 S. KK Ave., Milwaukee, WI 53207 (414) 238-2406. I don’t think they have a website yet, but they do have a myspace page and can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Photos from their preview night can be found here.