Interview with Slice of Homage Owner Steven Barrantes

Interview with Slice of Homage Owner Steven Barrantes
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There’s no better way to pay homage to the pizza world than by bringing traditionally known favorites to a new region. San Jose, California’s Slice of Homage Pizza is sharing regional favorites like Sicilian and Detroit-style with West Coast customers, and the formula is working. The pizzeria has received the Yelp 100 Places to Eat in the Bay Area award and The Mercury News’ Top Six Best New Bay Area Pizzerias of 2021 recognition. We talked to Owner Steve Barrantes about the accolades, his mission of bringing East Coast pizza to San Jose and why he’ll only use LloydPans in his kitchen.

You are a professional chef; why did you decide to finally open up this restaurant and specialize in pizza?
I’ve always gravitated toward pizza because it was my first job — I started when I was 16 at a pizzeria. From the beginning, I knew I was going to be in pizza. At 17 I took a business course, and through working in the field I had an ‘aha moment,’ and since then pizza has been my whole goal. But when I went to culinary school, I knew I didn’t want to be ‘just’ a pizza maker. I wanted to craft pizzas that are culinary inspired. During college when I was studying business management I worked at not only pizzerias, but fine dining restaurants and startups.

Pre-COVID, I was the area director for a pizza chain, and I said to myself, ‘I’ve done the cooking. I’ve done the schooling. I’ve been hands-on. It’s time.’ Then COVID hit, and then there was the boom on Instagram, and I was inspired by everyone creating pizza pages. I created a pizza page with no plan other than showcasing that I had pizza experience as well. That grew into friends and family giving feedback, refining and moving into a ghost kitchen. We’re now in the process of signing a deal for a lease.

Where did you first hear about LloydPans?
We started the business in 2020, and there was a big boom for Detroit-style around that time. After researching and seeing LloydPans tagged in so many things, I tried out a Detroit-style for the first time in my home oven. We have the 10×14, the 8×10 and the Sicilian-style in our kitchen, and we’re going to try to do the tavern-style pizza next. Tavern-style is something that I haven’t worked on as much, but I will definitely be using LloydPans Tavern-Style Shovels in hopes to put that on the menu.

Compared to what you’ve used in the past, what is the LloydPans difference?
I love an even bake. I love their durability. I have the pans that I’ve started with still to this day two-and-a-half years later and have no problems with them. They’re just so versatile, and you really get value out of using LloydPans. I don’t hesitate when we have to buy more pans.

You’ve received Top 6 Best New Bay Area Pizzerias of 2021 from The Mercury News, and the latest Yelp Top 100 Places to Eat in the Bay Area. To what do you attribute to the success?
Having a core team definitely ranks No. 1 for me. You have to surround yourself with a great team, people who believe in the product. I also think a lot of the success has to do with our attention to detail, our attention to how we put together each pizza, how we test each pizza, process of elimination of flours, of methods of sauces and cheeses, dialing into what it is that I’m trying to convey as a chef. Also, you have to be original. Even though we’re inspired by New York and Detroit, we’re keeping our own originality of what we believe is good flavor. Each person makes a different pizza even if we may use the same techniques.

And these are styles fairly new to San Jose …
Yes, the novelty of introducing these styles to the area. San Jose isn’t known for craft pizza. Being first to market … but there’s a lot of new competition right now. I gravitate more toward the East Coast American-style of pizza. The originality and some of the creativity isn’t seen as much on the West Coast, so my approach is to showcase, educate and demonstrate—bringing to light these different styles. A lot of people are still confused on what a Detroit is, or they’ll see vodka sauce on the menu, which is something they’ve never seen before. There’s a lot of inspiration from the East Coast, and it should be available to people on the West Coast to experience. Eventually I do want to create a menu that is inspired by both. I want to marry them and bring them to my city.

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