City A.M.’s Deputy Editor speaks to Homeslice’s Mark Wogan for the latest in his series of interviews with the capital’s hospitality entrepreneurs
As combinations go, it’s hard to beat a slice of pizza and a cold beer.
City A.M. certainly thinks so, so on this rainy Friday afternoon in Shoreditch it’s a delight to sit over a half-margherita, half-wagyu beef 20” pie and a Camden Pale Ale.
We’re at Homeslice – one of the firm’s six locations across the capital, which all have a claim to the title of the best pizza in town. And we’re honoured to be in the company of the brains behind the operation, entrepreneur Mark Wogan.
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“From the very beginning,” he says, “it was about taking something that you know – pizza – and injecting some proper culinary integrity into it. A real focus on the quality of the ingredients, and a real focus on maintaining high standards.”
It tastes like it. The mozzarella on the margherita is flown in from Naples twice a week; the wagyu beef comes from a friend of Mark’s in Spain, where it is air-dried in a similar way to iberico ham. Both are impossible to fault.
“The ovens are Italian-made,” he tells me, motioning to the gargantuan creation in the kitchen, out of which emerges piping-hot pizza. “They’re Valoriani ovens, wood-fired only. We just believe that’s the best way to cook it. It just puts a flavour into a pizza that you don’t get from an electric or gas.”
Those ovens fell cold, of course, in the dark days of March and April. Mark’s senior team shut up shop on the six sites – but soon began to innovate. Takeout pizza, both via delivery apps and collection, became the new normal.
Mark tells a story of driving through the City and seeing construction workers sitting outside his shut site at the bottom of the Bloomberg building, munching on lunchtime sandwiches. The site was open within 24 hours, with takeout pizza flying out the window and even a takeout pint available.
The ‘take and bake’ pizza, too, is now available nationwide. Using the firm’s signature dough, Homeslice prepare a 12” pizza with their selected ingredients and wrap it up until you’re ready to finish it off in the oven. They even provide the extras – fresh basil packed away to finish off the perfect margherita.
And, come July 4, Mark opened up again. The 10pm curfew didn’t help – although Mark does regale City A.M. with a tale of a couple arriving very close to the 10pm and promising that, no, they really could polish off a whole pie in twenty minutes – and new Tier 2 lockdown restrictions will no doubt be a setback.
But Mark is unyieldingly optimistic.
“London is arguably the best city in the world. You’d have to do a lot more to it than this to kill it.”
As City A.M. emerges back onto the street, three office workers brave the rain and sprint across the road to the pub. Londoners will always want a pint, it seems – and combining it with pizza of this quality isn’t going out of fashion, either.
Homeslice have six sites across London and delivery of the ‘take and bake’ is available nationwide. Homeslicepizza.co.uk