It’s the 20th anniversary of Slice

A man lights birthday candles on a pizza.
Me lighting the candles on a pizza to celebrate Slice’s sixth anniversary on October 13, 2009. This was in Serious Eats’ first non-shared office space on 27th Street, between Seventh & Eighth avenues in one of the few non-FIT buildings on the FIT campus. I’m 99% certain this pizza was from NY Pizza Suprema, since it was our go-to NY-style spot in the area, being an 8-minute walk away. (We were also near Salumeria Biellese, which makes fantastic sandwiches and was also convenient for picking up soppressata and pepperoni for pizzamaking.)

I almost let the day go by without noting it, but today’s the 20th anniversary of Slice, the pizza blog I founded back in the early days of what was sometimes known as as “the social web.” This was 2003, so it was pre–social media as we know it, but blogs, with their comment sections, blogrolls, and “trackback” links, jumpstarted the idea that anyone could publish and that audience interaction was expected and welcome.

Look how great that’s all turned out! 🤣🫠🤦🏻‍♂️

My early inspirations for Slice were the photocopied ‘zines of the 1990s and the blogs of the early 2000s—most notably OG Gothamist, which chronicled and commented on a wide range of NYC events, culture, and news with an enthusiastic and idiosyncratic POV.

When I first moved to NYC in June 2000, I was already a pizza hound, and I was surprised there was no dedicated “fan page” for NYC pizza—there seemed to be weird little fan webpages for bands, celebs, etc. And, yeah, sure there were sprawling pizza threads and heated discussions on forums like Chowhound and eGullet, but not a page dedicated solely to (NYC) pizza. I guess Slice was me being the change I wanted to see in the world, lmao.

For the first few years I lived here in NYC, I collected newspaper and magazine clippings about pizza—the various “New York’s Best Slices” lists in New York magazine, Time Out, and the Village Voice; “Pizza 2002: the State of the Slice,” by Ed Levine in the New York Times. I’d use them as roadmaps to pizza exploration—supplemented by the knowledge and guidance of a coworker at the time who wrote for Slice under the nom de blog “Seltzerboy.” (I met him while working at Martha Stewart Living, and he was the one who introduced me to Di Fara, where we’d often go on weekends back when its fame was largely limited to the zealots on the Chowhound NYC boards.)

And then in 2003, when Gothamist and Gawker and countless other New York–focused blogs and photo blogs sprang up, I knew I was looking at the solution to my distribution problem.

See, I’d first conceived of “Slice” as a photocopied ‘zine when I lived in Portland, Oregon, in the late ‘90s. (The prototype issue was square, with a cover designed to look like a pizza box. I wish I’d kept it!) But I quickly thought things through and realized there was practically zero market for a ‘zine about pizza in a city that had yet to become the amazing pizza destination it currently is. So I shelved that idea and went about my life.

Escape from New York Pizza, shown here in a 2009 photo from a trip to the West Coast to survey pizza for a March Madness–style pizza bracket Ed Levine and I worked on in conjunction with Rachael Ray magazine. This place existed when I lived in Portland in the late ’90s. I’m sure I considered it for subject matter for the photocopied ‘zine I never ended up doing—and if I had ended up publishing it, for sure I would have asked them if they’d mind putting copies on the counter for people to take.

Blogs, though, weren’t limited by how many photocopies you could afford and how much time you had to collate, saddle-staple, and drop-off issues at whatever venues you could convince to carry them.

And so, on October 13, 2003, SliceNY dot com* went live. 👈 I purposely didn’t link to it just now. It doesn’t exist anymore. It’s been lost to the digital ether after having been sold a couple of times over the years—first to Serious Eats, which I helped founder Ed Levine launch in 2007 after coming aboard as its first editor—and then to the various corporate entities that bought Serious Eats in the intervening years.

I often trot this image out when I get nostalgic like this. This is from April 4, 2004, when (from left) “Seltzerboy” and I met food writer Ed Levine by chance while leading a “Slice Pizza Club” outing at Totonno’s. Ed was doing research for his book Pizza: A Slice of Heaven, and thought it was such a trip that all the people taking up a couple booths at the place had all met on the internet on a site about pizza. (Seems weird now, but stuff like that really was novel at the time!) If this had never happened, I don’t know what I’d be doing today. I was kinda lost at the time, didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life, and Slice was sort of an outlet to escape thinking about that. Ed and I kept in touch, and when he had the idea to start Serious Eats, he reached out because he liked the voice/tone/energy I’d fostered on Slice (and its eventual sister site, A Hamburger Today—”Slice, but for burgers,” launched in May 2005).

So, even though Slice no longer exists, I still count October 13 as my blogaversary. I’ve been blabbing about pizza in some form or another, in various media, on a multitude of platforms, in fits and starts, for two decades now. In that time I’ve met a lot of great friends (many of them through blogging!), have gotten married, had a kid, learned to make some decent pizza, did a pizza pop-up, and have kept a finger on the pulse of pizza news, though a fairly lose grip as of late. I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know so many people from around the USA (and even the world!) all with a common love of food—whether they were Slice readers from the OG days, Serious Eaters, chefs or pizza makers from all the writing and research over the years.

From a joint Gothamist-Slice Pizza Party held at Fornino’s original location in on Bedford Avenue in Williamsburg. That’s me in the mirror, with early New York blogger Tien Mao (left) and Gothamist co-founder Jen Chung.

Slice changed my life in ways profound and practical. It brought me new friends, gave me confidence in my writing/editing, paid off credit card debt, and eventually paid for a kitchen renovation.

When Serious Eats was first getting started, its founder Ed Levine bought Slice and A Hamburger Today from me and hired me as the founding editor of Serious Eats. He was initially assembling a Voltron of food blogs. But soon after that, his advisors put the kibosh on further blog buyouts. It wasn’t millionaire money—I became a thousandaire, and then spent most of that paying off some serious credit card debt. That initial sale changed my life. Living with debt is psychologically draining. It can be a cloud or a weight that’s always with you. Once I was able to pay that off it was like the sun had risen after a long night. As part of the sale and my hiring contract, I negotiated ownership of a small percentage of Serious Eats. When Ed sold SE to Fexy Media in 2015, I saw some more gains—again thousandaire status here, but enough to pay for the kitchen renovation in the apartment we’d bought shortly after our daughter was born.
These are called Venetian candles, FYI. In case you want to order them for your own “pizza night” at home.

At year 20, I don’t know if you could say I’m still “active” as a pizza blabber. Maybe I’m semi-retired, IDK. Between work and family life, I don’t have a ton of free time to tackle pizza exploration and gather and disseminate the type of content today’s internet demands. And, to level with you, being as online as I used to be—about pizza or anything—just isn’t fun or all that rewarding and actually can get pretty toxic and bad for my mental health in general. I started this “secret blog” here as a platform of my own, independent of the big social media companies, to house various thoughts, recipes, pizza guides, and the like, mostly in response to people asking for those things in emails, DMs, etc. I was hoping to update It’s Pizza Night more regularly, but it’s been a struggle. It is what it is. Trying to force content to keep up with a publishing cadence kinda sucks the joy out of it.

All that’s not to say I’m turning off the oven or blowing out the Venetian candle on this anniversary or anytime soon. I’ve still got a bunch of video and photos and notes I’m sitting on and and excited about posting.** So watch for that. In the meantime, I’m posting some photo highlights from over the years. Enjoy.

August 2005, when I was asked to be a judge at a Long Island pizza competition held at Adventureland in Farmingdale. I went out there with early Slice contributor “E-Rock” (pictured left, and no relation to DJ E-Rock).
Eating pizza Tony Manero–style at Lenny’s in Bensonhurst. Lenny’s closed earlier this year after its owner retired.
April 2006—from another “Slice Pizza Club” outing at Totonno’s. Pictured are many friends I have fond memories of but have shamefully not kept in touch with as much as I’d have wanted to over the years. Also, pictured: my wife.
November 10, 2006. I sometimes think of this day but didn’t realize I had a photo of it. For a brief period, Serious Eats shared an office more or less above Les Halles on Park Avenue South with Frederator Studios. MTV co-founder Fred Seibert was a friend and former colleague of Ed Levine’s who rented pre-launch Serious Eats some desk space in the corner of his offices there. (At the time, pre-Tumblr David Karp had a couple desks there, as did Tim Shey, who cofounded Next New Networks with Seibert and some others—NNN would go on to be acquired by YouTube and essentially lay the groundwork for YouTube Creator Studio and basically the YT creator economy.) But ANYWAY, on this day, we were heading to lunch and spotted Bourdain filming. Our business advisor at the time, Blogger cofounder Meg Hourihan, was email friends with Bourdain, because they had connected thanks to Meg’s foodblog. IIRC, she ended up saying hi to him here when he was between takes and I think it was the first time they met IRL. This was relatively early on in his career—he was famous enough among foodos but not yet a household name nor the cultural force he would become. I can’t say for certain, but by the timing of it, I’m guessing this was for S4E10 of No Reservations, “Into the Fire,” where he returns to the kitchen of Les Halles to do his old Tuesday double shift.
From a December 2006 visit to Totonno’s with my friends Justin and Celia. We met up with Tomoko, a Japanese woman who was living in NYC and working as a bagelmaker’s apprentice. I can’t remember if she’d already studied pizzamaking as an apprentice by this time or if that would come later. Point is, she loved/loves pizza and bagels and wanted to become a pizzamaker. She eventually did! I email her every year on our birthday, as we’re birthday twins, down to the year. Next year I’ll have to catch up and see if she’s still working in a pizzeria or whether she’s chosen a new path.
Taking notes while serving as a judge at the 2007 Pizza & Pasta Show at Javits Center.
So these eventually got Serious Eats into some trouble with the I Heart NY folks. My advice: Do not ever try to riff on the I❤️NY logo. Empire State Development, the NY state agency that owns the mark, does not play. We still have a handful of these around the house. I should have worn one today. Margot has finally grown big enough to wear a kids size my sister originally ordered for her dog but then sent to us after having thoroughly washed it. (I hope Margot never reads this and finds out she’s wearing a dog’s former shirt.)
From Scott Wiener’s birthday in October 2007. He rented a bus to do a pizza tour with friends. This would eventually evolve into his successful pizza tour business.
October 13, 2008! Slice’s 5th anniversary but also the day Ed Levine and I hosted “The Pieman’s Craft” at Una Pizza Napoletana as part of the NYC Wine & Food Festival. It was a fun event where Anthony Mangieri did a Q&A with Ed about pizza, life, etc., and then made pizza for the guests. A great event that never happened again.
April 12, 2009 — A visit to Paulie Gee’s New Jersey home, where he’d built this pizza oven to perfect his recipes. He often posts about this on the anniversary of this visit. Paulie was HUGE in the comments section of Slice, checking in with places he’d visited and what he thought about them. And of course, he went on to open his place and franchise out PG locations in other cities owned/run by people who also had the dream of a career pivot to pizza.
An October 2009 pizza nerd meetup at Nomad in New Jersey. Quite a few early-days Slice readers/commenters here.
The infamous Peeps Pizza (Peepza) that I came up with for Easter 2010. This goes viral every other year or so around Easter. I often forget I ever did this and then get a reminder when people see it and DM it to me, lol. This was baked and shot at NY Pizza Suprema, a short walk from the Serious Eats office. Owner Joe Riggio was a good sport. In his defense, he balked at the idea at first, shook his head at the absurdity, and then went along with it. IIRC, Robyn Lee shot this photo. Enjoy this Eater article: Peeps Pizza Is an Easter Food Tradition Gone Horribly Wrong
From a visit to Norma’s Pizza in August 2019. This was one of the top 3 pizza experiences of my life. (I’m not ranking them, but the others were the time I visited Pizzeria Bianco alone but ended up sharing a table with a couple from Kansas City who I met in line, and a very nice dinner with my daughter at Razza in Jersey City, where Dan Richter showed us such incredible hospitality that I get verklempt now thinking about it.

*The blog’s official name was always Slice. Just Slice. But Slice dot com was taken and, IIRC, so was SliceNYC. So SliceNY dot com it became. It always grated on me to hear people call it “Slice en why.” After I sold it to Serious Eats (along with A Hamburger Today), it continued to exist and publish as SE’s pizza vertical until the powers that be there streamlined things and did away with the various sub-brands, including Slice, A Hamburger Today, Serious Drinks, Serious Eats Desserts, etc. For years you could still find Slice content via search—and many of the old links would redirect to the corresponding Serious Eats page, but in the latest sale to DotDashMeredith, they scrubbed all the low-performing content, so not much is left. I know some longtime readers DM every now and then in anger on my behalf, but I’ve made my peace with it. In some respects I’m sad it’s gone. I’ve always said that I’ve never wanted or needed to write a pizza book because Slice existed. I’d always viewed that body of work as a snapshot of pizza culture in a certain place and time and thought it was a unique record and contribution to the pizza landscape—much more so than what I’d have been able to do with just another pizza guidebook or cookbook. So the fact that it’s gone erases that legacy. But, just looking back at the poor quality of these old photos and remembering some of the inane stuff I wrote about there, maybe it’s for the best. [Footnote to this footnote: I’m talking only about the stuff I wrote. During Slice’s heyday, we had a lot of great contributors who did some amazing pizza reviews and pizza journalism. That stuff, I wish was still available.]

Also, regarding the name, I’m kinda salty about the fact that I have to retroactively refer to the blog as “Slice en why dot com” ever since the Slice pizza-ordering app came around. I refer to SliceNY less and less frequently as the years go on, so it’s not like it’s a huge issue, but there ya go. Happy for them that they seem to be doing well and are helping provide small pizzerias what seems to be a pretty fair ordering platform, from what I understand from talking to owners who use it.

**Notably the second half of my Chicago trip earlier this year and some other stuff I’ve shot around town here in NYC.