Overall Experience - 8.3
Summary : You can find creative topping combinations and pizza names at this funky college pizza spot. Vegan and gluten free options are emphasized on the menu, as is the pizzeria's DIY attitude.
I recently returned from a road trip to New England and the first night of my trip was spent in Providence, Rhode Island. The area of town near Brown and the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) has a collegiate feel to it, even during the summer. The campuses were bustling with tour groups and students who were partaking in summer programs. And the coffee shops and clothing stores along Thayer Street, while not packed, were receiving some traffic.
Because of RISD, I’ve always associated Providence with art, but I’ve never thought of it as a city with a strong food scene. Nevertheless, the city has garnered a couple of accolades that have piqued my curiosity in recent years. In particular, Travel + Leisure just named Providence the third best city for foodies the United States. So as I set out to explore Providence for the day, I had expectations of seeing some cool art and eating some good food. As luck would have it, I was able to accomplish both in one spot: Nice Slice (267 Thayer Street).
If I were a student at Brown, Nice Slice would be my late night go-to spot for pizza. The moment you step inside, it feels different that any other pizza place. The first thing you’ll notice is all of the art. From wall murals and graffiti to the table and chair decorations, Nice Slice aims to create a laid back vibe inspired by its design. The Nice Slice website notes that it serves pizza to “all the skaters, students, hipsters, vegetarians, vegans, intellectuals, and pseudo-intellectuals,” and its motto is W.O.M.P (Word Of Mouth Pizza). Whether you want to call it a theme, atmosphere, or just a way of life — Nice Slice encompasses a DIY (that’s do-it-yourself) attitude. Heck, they even have a mission: To Serve You Pizza and preserve Thayer St’s status as a haven for intellects and counter-cultural weirdos.
After taking in all of the art (it’s amazing what can be done in such a small space), I shifted my focus to the pizza. It’s not surprising that the ethos of this type of place would be evident by its offerings. There is a full vegan menu with pies like Vegan BBQ Chicken. And 10 inch personal gluten free pies can be made to order and contain rice flour, tapioca flour, water, potato flour, olive oil, sugar, yeast, and salt. No matter what part of the menu you’re ordering from, you can expect funky names and topping combinations like the Cranberry Picnic (dried cranberries, sliced almonds, baby spinach, mozzarella & cheddar blend) and Parallel Universe (ricotta, bacon, scallion, black pepper, olive oil, mozzarella & cheddar cheese).
I kept things relatively simple and opted for two slices: Pesto W/ Tomato (basil pesto, plum tomatoes, mozzarella & cheddar cheese) and Margherita (fresh mozzarella ‘fior di latte’, fresh basil, mozzarella & cheddar blend). Regular slices are $2.25 and specialty slices top out at $3.25. I really liked them both. I’m not sure they stack up to a New York slice joint, but that’s not at all what Nice Slice is trying to be. They’ve succeeded at being a funky and creative college hangout with good food. I wouldn’t venture across town for their pizza, but it’s the kind of place every college student at Brown and RISD should be hitting up after a couple of Saturday night drinks. There are enough topping combinations that it could take a semester’s worth of visits to try them all.