With five central London restaurants, brothers Alan and Mark Wogan would have every reason to be pleased with the rapid rate of success they’ve enjoyed since launching in 2013.
The co-founders of London’s much-loved pizza brand, Homeslice, however, have bigger plans. They are among the UK’s smartest operators who have viewed Covid as an opportunity, rather than a hindrance. So while restaurants have had to close for much of the year, deliveries have not and the brothers Wogan have moved into the nationwide delivery market.
Customers across the country can now get their hands on an authentic 12” Homeslice pizza, prepared using specially selected ingredients, and ready for baking at home. Using their signature dough, a 12” base is part-baked in wood-fired ovens. Homeslice sauces and selected ingredients are added before the pizza is wrapped up ready for delivery or collection. The pizzas can be kept in the fridge or freezer until customers are ready to cook them in their oven.
Six toppings are available in a launch menu that encapsulates the brand’s dedication to balancing traditional and innovative flavour combinations and premium ingredients: – Margherita, £8 – Mushroom, ricotta, pumpkin seeds, chilli flakes, chives, soy, truffle glaze (vegan option available), £8 – Salami, rocket and parmesan, £9 – Chorizo, corn, coriander , £9 – Neal’s Yard 4 cheese, jalapeño salsa and rye crumb, £9 – Nduja, tenderstem broccoli, Fior Di Latte, Chilli Oil (vegan ‘Ndontja pizza also available), £9.
Also available nationwide are Homeslice’s range of sauces for fans to drizzle over their pizzas, or add a bit of the Homeslice flavour to something they’re whipping up at home. Their famous tomato sauce used on all of their pizzas is a welcome addition to any store cupboard though the deliciously tangy jalapeño salsa can be used with home-made nachos, while the Homeslice Truffle Crème Fraiche can jazz up a creamy chicken parmigiana. There’s also a Soy Truffle Glaze on offer, as well as Homeslice’s signature Chilli Oil.
The Wogan brothers opened their first Homeslice restaurant at Neal’s Yard in 2013 with a shared vision of retaining Homeslice’s original simplicity.
The aim was to balance tradition with innovation, offering guests their take on the classics, alongside more unique flavour combinations. The result was a simple menu of pizza, beer and wine with quality, seasonal produce at its heart, served in a relaxed, friendly space.
Since opening the brothers have launched five more sites in Fitzrovia, Shoreditch, Marylebone, The City and, most recently, at Television Centre in White City.
Perhaps it’s not surprising that they have a branch at Television Centre, after all, their old fella was the great and legendary broadcaster, Sir Terry. For their father, BBC TV Centre was a second home. Now it’s part of his offspring’s restaurant empire.
The brothers bought into the business alongside chef Ry Jessup and have successfully turned it into a chain.
While they’re conscious of the fantastic legacy that their father had, they have no intention of trading on it.
Instead, they’re happy to stand or fall by the quality of the service they provide, not to mention the appeal of their pizzas.
And the pizza is pretty good; if not the sort of blow-me-away experience that would cause a hardcore pizza fan to ditch all their other favourites and convert immediately to a lifelong relationship with Homeslice.
The quality of home delivery food has improved exponentially during lockdown and Homeslice continues that trend. Ordering is as easy as click, click, click with entry level take-and-bake kits costing £17.50 for two. Then you simply add the extras that you want: select truffle soy glaze for £7, or chilli oil for £4. Fill out an address box and let the postie do the rest.
We opted for a mushroom and ricotta pizza with pumpkin seeds and chilli flakes alongside a salami, rocket and parmesan pizza – though, unfortunately, the person packing the pizzas forgot to add the parmesan, so we’ve no idea how that would have worked. No matter, the rocket was still as fresh as a daisy, or, more accurately, a salad leaf. We cooked our pizzas within 24 hours and the pizzas were decent, rather than spectacular. There was a minor disappointment that the centre of both remained a tad squishy, despite us following the instructions to the letter and being more than competent in the kitchen.
The base, however, was delicious. With a slight tangy and perfectly crisp at the edges. The toppings were tasty, too.
There’s no doubt Homeslice have a great brand. They’re cool, they’re edgy, they offer upmarket flavours and they’re popular with the culinary cognoscenti. Their prices, however, are a little steep: £3 for a can of Coke, anyone, or £4 for a drizzle of oil? And while there are plenty of us mad enough to pay a little extra for something that’s out-of-the-park good, the experience wasn’t as memorable as we anticipated.
So while there are boxes that demand attention and a repeat order – and there are plenty of those now, as we remain in Lockdown II – Homeslice is more of a curio package, or an occasional treat, then a buy-and-buy-again thing. From Aktar Islam’s curry boxes to Tommy Banks’ Michelin-style dining and from Hawksmoor’s fabulous meat deliveries to the fabulous food of Pasta Evangelists, or the comforting at-home grub of Gary Usher’s Elite Bistros, there’s plenty to thrill and delight.
There’s no doubting the business acumen or the brothers Wogan and one can only marvel at the way they’ve transformed an otherwise workaday brand into something that’s sleek, cool, modern and cutting edge. In the final analysis, however, the food doesn’t travel as well or provide as high-end an experience as the price tag suggests.