Lars Smith has fond memories of eating at the same space decades ago when it was still a Taco Bell. Their father Jim, who still lives in the neighborhood behind the restaurant, had always wanted to open a business there on what once was Palo Alto's "restaurant row." His father ran the El Camino Veterinary Hospital down the street for more than 50 years. Smith got his start making pies as a high schooler at Pizza My Heart (where he met his wife as well as State of Mind co-owner Amy Betz.)
"This is our stomping grounds," Smith said.
State of Mind's heirloom goat pizza is also available at the new Slice House in Palo Alto. Photo by Magali Gauthier.
State of Mind Slice House opened for business on Monday, the owners' second act to the State of Mind Public House and Pizzeria in downtown Los Altos. The newest restaurant is their ode to New York City slice shops, with their own West Coast stamp. As at their first pizzeria, all of the slow-proofed pizzas are made from organic California flour and topped with made-from-scratch sauces and ingredients like housemade chorizo, chevre, local vegetables and hot honey.
State of Mind fans will see familiar menu items, plus some pizzas that have gone on and off the Los Altos menu but will be permanent fixtures at the Slice House, like the "po-tay-to" with mozzarella, Point Reyes toma, bacon, potato, green onion and cream. All of the pizzas are baked in high-heat electric Cuppone ovens from Italy.
Although other local pizza shops have discontinued slices during the pandemic, the Slice House will remain true to concept and have as many as 15 pizza slices available when things are fully up and running. Several will be available in square slices or as whole pan pies — State of Mind's take on the "grandma pie" made famous by Umberto's on Long Island. State of Mind's version is thicker than Umberto's, Smith said, and has been refined over, "no exaggeration," hundreds of hours of tinkering. All whole pies can also be ordered as rectangular pan pizzas instead.
"We'll continue to chase the best pizza and the best product we can make," he said.
State of Mind's ode to the "grandma pie" is a double-proofed and double-baked pan pizza with mozzarella, organic sauce, pecorino cheese and fresh basil. Photo by Magali Gauthier.
State of Mind Slice House also offers gluten-free pizzas, vegan cashew cream and plant-based Impossible Foods sausage. Unlike the Los Altos restaurant, there are no wings or burgers here; just pizzas and a few salads.
Like the arcade and pinball machines at State of Mind in Los Altos, Slice House's decor will pay homage to their upbringing in the 1980s and 1990s. Smith plans to install custom booths that look like 90's fast-food booths and an old-school vacuum-formed sign out front.
For dessert? Peak nostalgia with It's It ice cream sandwiches.
The State of Mind family, from left: Lars Smith, his wife Cristina, father Jim, co-owner Amy Betz and Andrew Smith. Photo courtesy State of Mind.
State of Mind Slice House is open for takeout only for now but the Smith patriarch is building tables for outdoor dining (which resumed in Santa Clara County the day the restaurant opened).
The pizzeria is open daily from 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. and taking orders online.