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EMPIRE SLICE HOUSE: A new hope for pizza strikes back in OKC

Louis Fowler / Red Dirt Report, edited Liz Burleson / Red Dirt Report
On this day, I settled into a tantalizing trio of slices that included the Notorious P.I.G.,the Rocksteady, and the Foghorn Leghorn.
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OKLAHOMA CITY - I am not a fan of pizza. Like, at all.

I understand that might cause many to question my patriotism and love of this country, but it’s always seemed like kind of a waste of a meal, a quick excuse to get full fast on nothing but carbs and dairy, a quick breakfast or a rote lunch, a cheap (and sad) all-you-can-eat dinner for one.

Empire Slice House, 1734 NW 16th St., has got me torn all asunder about those beliefs, however.

Hands down the best pizza in the Metro, Empire goes out of their way to actually craft their pies like they were an artform, which is only reinforced by the hip-hop nom de plumes each creation is given. Fat slices, unique flavors and a funky vibe all come together to create the ultimate Empire state of mind in the heartland.

When walking into the place, it’s impossible to not be overwhelmed by the explosion of pop-culture ephemera that covers every inch of wall-space, from Power-Man and Iron Fist back issues to Trainspotting bus shelter imports, it’ll take a few minutes to gather any and all wits about yourself.

Empire offers both full pizza pies (ranging from about $19 to $22) and individual slices of the day for $3.25 each. On this day, I settled into a tantalizing trio of slices that included the Rocksteady, the Notorious P.I.G. and the Foghorn Leghorn.

My first slice of enticement was the Rocksteady, featuring bacon, gorgonzola, red onions and a balsamic reduction. Not only was it absolutely delightful to have a pizza with gorgonzola cheese on it, but their balsamic reduction really adds a jaw-loosening splash of unexpected flavor that you can’t find and any other joint. It’s a remarkable concoction.

Next up, I devoured – not like a snake unhinging his mandible to swallow a whole egg - a fat cut of Notorious P.I.G. Packing together bacon, pepperoni, sausage, capicola and Canadian bacon, this was a meat lover’s dream come true, this was a total carnivore fetishist’s oral fixation come to fruition. Every piece of pork is a savory pearl that deserves to be cast in front and behind a herd of swine. Probably the best pizza on their menu, even though I’m sure a whole pie would cause even the healthiest heart to put a gun to its head.

Finally, the Foghorn Leghorn which, as full as I was, I valiantly downed, although I wish I could have enjoyed it separately on its own merit. A tantalizing combo of asiago, chicken, bacon, jalapenos, sweet marinara and an ever so caution drizzle of Sriracha, this is a pizza to enjoy alone with only a glass of ice water by your side. It’s the Pollack of pizzas and should be hanging in a museum, somewhere.

My only tip is to ask for a side of their super-secret “pink sauce”—a dipping sensation that compliments those leftover crusts into a whole second meal for now or later. If they sold it in stores, I’d put it on everything.

In addition to a whole host of pizzas that run every tastebud gamut possible, Empire also offers appetizers like garlic knots, stuffed banana peppers and an “Andre the Giant meatball,” as well as salads and desserts. But what many people like to side their slices with is a selection from their massive collection of beers and brews from all over the world. Just thinking about it makes my stomach burn.

So, while the food is great at Empire, perhaps the only complaint that I could possibly have is that sometimes the service is a little on the snotty side, oftentimes one is left feeling ignored as the staff chats it up with young and exciting hipsters that are way cooler than you ever will be. It would be nice to be given a little bit of immediate attention to without having to flag a member of waitstaff to refill a water or to even get the check. I don’t know, maybe it’s me. Maybe I’m the problem.

And yet I still keep coming back because, as much as I find pizza to be a total waste of my culinary time, damned if Empire Slice House doesn’t make me a believer in it again. By making something special and not treating it as assembly line garbage, they’ve crafted a fantastic new visage of what the famed Italian classic should be now and in the future.

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About the Author

Louis Fowler

Güicho. Gadfly. Chicano. Choctaw. Cristero. Freelancer. Leftist. Activist. Vilified. PKD....

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About Red Dirt Report

Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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