At first glance, Slices on Mill seems like a typical New York pizza place. It’s location three blocks south of the Mill Avenue / Third Street light rail station is cramped and casual. There are a few high-top tables and two counters, most of them adorned with shaker jars of crushed red pepper. A small patio provides additional dining space. The front counter usually has multiple types of pizza on display. In ordinary times when nearby Arizona State University is at its full population, the restaurant caters to the bar crowd by maintaining late hours until 3 AM on weekends.
Look a little closer, though, and Slices appears a little less New Yorky. The walls were once covered with Boston sports memorabilia and a giant photo of the Boston skyline. After a recent change in ownership, the New England emphasis is gone, replaced mostly by Arizona State University athletic decor. A few occasional non-pizza specials such as lobster rolls and crab cakes hint at the current owner’s Baltimore origins. The pies themselves have a crust speckled with cornmeal and less grease than the easily foldable slices associated with New York pizza.
Beginning during lunch rush each day, Slices displays an impressive pizza bounty. There are always a few classic pies such as pepperoni, Hawaiian, or vegetable, but much of the rotating selection explores more interesting territory. Some of the pies have an East Coast influence with toppings like chicken and Old Bay seasoning. Others, such as the loaded potato or mac-and-cheese pizzas, layer carbohydrates on top of carbohydrates. Most dine-in customers have two slices as part of an ASU lunch special that also includes a fountain drink.
As with any pizza-by-the-slice situation, the pies are made in advance with the slices reheated for a few minutes before being served. For the most part, this system works well due to the high volume of pizza produced. Freshness is not compromised because everything moves so quickly. Nevertheless, if ever the pizza on display fails to impress, it’s a good idea to look into the open kitchen and see what the staff are working on. Sometimes, a fresh pie is being cut at that moment, and the customer who expresses interest can enjoy the inaugural slice.
Of course, Slices makes whole pizzas to order, with just about every combination of toppings a customer might wish to request imaginable. The pizzas are available in both 16-inch and 20-inch varieties with a 10-inch cauliflower crust as an alternative. The only other regular menu item, a calzone, is formed from a 16-inch crust folded over the chosen assortment of any four toppings. The result comes out of the oven with just a slight char on its exterior, a trait normally hidden on the bottom of a pizza, and steam billows out the moment the crust is cut open.
Desserts are currently limited to packaged brownies, although fresh baked cookies have been available at times. Beverages are limited to sodas, iced teas, and a few bottled juices and energy drinks. No alcohol is served, and that’s probably for the best since a lot of the late night clientele has already imbibed somewhere else nearby and the daytime crowd is headed back to the office or to afternoon classes. Given its small size, Slices isn’t a destination for business entertaining or family meals, but it doesn’t need to be. It’s a slice of city life in downtown Tempe.
11 E. 6th St. #102, Tempe AZ 85281
Mill Avenue / Third Street Station