Get ready to say goodbye to the Dope Effin’ Steak—Wolfert’s Roost in Irvington will close at the end of the month. It’s not goodbye, however, for chef and co-owner Eric Korn, who will open a corner pizza joint, Slice Shop, just down the block later this week. “It’s the next generation,” says Korn, who’s hoping the new spot will have a family friendly vibe that really speaks to what his life is like now. “The goal behind [Wolfert’s Roost] was always to prove to ourselves that we could do it, and to serve the things we like to be serving in a fun style. With the pizza place, we can serve the things we love minus the pretense. It’s the next fun project.”
It might sound crazy to call a pizza place the evolution of a New American restaurant, but Slice Shop isn’t exactly what you’d expect. There’s no subway tile, distressed wood, or industrial-style lighting. At first glance, it looks like the typical joint that’s been on the corner of a small town for 50 years. There’s just a smattering of tables (the website will include online ordering for easy takeout), a silver pizza oven, and a couple guys tossing rounds of dough behind the counter. Slices are crisp on the bottom and foldable (he’s got a dough guy who’s playing with different types of flour and hydration levels to get the perfect crust). And that’s exactly what Korn wants it to be.
But any resemblance to your classic pizzeria stops there. Toppings include classic pepperoni and sausage, but most are more creative (e.g. farm eggs, poblano peppers, and onion jam) and reminiscent of an artisanal approach. The Porknado, a riff on the meat lover’s pie, features pulled pork, bacon, ham, and pickled Fresno peppers. And there’s no baked ziti, veal Parm, or garlic bread on the menu. “My thought is that’s what people have become accustomed to but don’t necessarily love,” he suggests. “Why not serve stuff that people eat nowadays?”
But take heart, Wolfert’s lovers: The Roost’s fried chicken makes an appearance in the form of wings, and waffle fries get treated like nachos, smothered in green chili and pork or meatballs and sauce. There will also be sandwiches (Cuban, fried chicken, roasted sausage, and vegetables), falafel, and a selection of salad and grain bowls. Now that Wolfert’s Roost is coming to an end, “We’ve really learned what our voice is,” says Korn. “It’s silly, fun, good food that doesn’t need all the extra bells and whistles. It needs to be between two pieces of bread or coming out of a pizza oven.”
The location that currently houses Wolfert’s Roost will be converted into a shared catering space for Korn’s Good-Life Gourmet, and he also plans to use it an experimental lab for pop-up kitchens. “If I’ve got an idea, we’re doing a pop-up,” he affirms. “But it’s a shorter project. If people come in, we’re still going to be sitting here.”