And so it was, April 16th when the recently painted black doors of the former Bill’s Lighthouse Inn opened for business, and HomeSlyce the Bar (1741 Light St., Riverside) began serving its new patrons, all of which were eager to claim the generous outdoor seating lining both sides of the building on the corner of Light and Barney. Haluk Kantar of Cazbar notability has pulled a major overhaul with HomeSlyce, polishing the charmingly dingy space of Bill’s into a nice spot to kick back after work.
The interior has been completely redone. While the bar itself remains somewhat untouched, all of the draftlines have been ripped out and await a future replacement. There are handsome wood finishes and a deep black/yellow/red color combination that maintains a warmth to the atmosphere, complimenting the wood/mirrored bar backstop. A pool table remains and a few guys in work clothes were shooting, not quite the same work clothes as the patrons of Bill’s (but some of those guys were sharing the space as well), enjoying $1.50 ponies and a few domestics ($2.50) during happy hour (4pm-7pm, 10pm-12am M-F).
As for the the food. Price wise, HomeSlyce is pretty reasonable. Their specialty pizzas top off at $19.53 (?) for an 18″, whereas a 10″ personal pizza is $11.26, while their signature “Home Slyce” – what is essentially a pizza canoe or “a premium pizza shaped like a slice” – starts at $7.25 to build your own. The menu also features a wide variety of sandwiches, wings and straightforward pub food with off kilter prices ($7.02, $4.11, etc), most of which are under $10, and there’s a lot to try.
The Home Slyce I tried – with spinach and spicy beef – was pretty good, I wouldn’t say it blew me away but the sauce mingled well with the spicy beef and the crust was plenty crispy, which is a big plus. I also tried a Slyce of the HomeSlyce Spice, topped with Soujuk (Turkish spicy sausage), olives and bell peppers – the Soujuk was *very* good and cooked to an edge-crispiness. ALL SLICED MEAT TOPPINGS ON PIZZA SHOULD HAVE SLIGHTLY BURNT EDGES. Apparently and eventually HomeSlyce will offer boosted carryout service (delivery?), capitalizing on the very successful carryout kitchen that Bill’s had for over 30 years.
Style wise the pizza, atmosphere and drink selection is different enough from next door neighbor Hersch’s Pizza and Drinks to distinguish itself, fortunately fashioning its own identity in an area of town that is literally swamped with pizza restaurants. The bad part is, one of the best places for carryout seafood in South Baltimore is gone, and while mainstays like LP Steamers or Nick’s at Cross Street market still remain (for now) – there was nothing quite like the fried oyster or softcrab sandwiches that Bill’s churned out. *HINT HINT WINK WINK COUGH COUGH FUTURE RESTAURANT IDEAS* At any rate, it is what it is.
The most fortunate occurrence for the opening of HomeSlyce is the closing of the bar across the corner, a place known as Leon’s (but only according to its patrons, it has no name on the front). Even when Bill’s was in full swing, the crowds at Leon’s would get into loud altercations that would often spill out into the street, forcing the bartenders at Bill’s to actually deadbolt the front door, often as early as 10pm. The negative attention drawn to that area by corner screaming matches and an unfortunate police raid of Bill’s some time ago in which their video poker machines were seized made it seem as though a viable “neighborhood” establishment settling into the space would be a major hurdle – which it was – but HomeSlyce seems to have accomplished that goal. Best of luck to you, HomeSlyce!