Cork n’ Slice Woodfire Bistro | 4501 Maryland Ave

On Thursday, Cork n’ Slice will open softly with an abbreviated number of appetizers, salads, pizzas, and desserts as it ramps up to its grand opening next month.

Even when fully up to speed, the diminutive kitchen will necessitate a limited menu— six appetizers, four salads, and a dozen pizzas, plus seasonal pizzas of the week and month, rotating items owner Cornell Thirdkill calls “farm-to-pizza pizzas.”  

The result is a pizza place that’s “neighborhood friendly, but also hip and trendy,” as Thirdkill says. The color scheme is bold but basic, the playlist is sexy and inviting, and the vibe says “stick around” rather than “eat and run.” As the name says, Cork n’ Slice is a pizza bistro, not a pizza joint. Thirdkill calls it “fine casual,” a dining niche that’s rapidly becoming a buzzword.

Thirdkill, 31, is new to the restaurant industry but is a hospitality veteran. For several years, he was a tour manager in charge of event production for a portfolio of different artists. More recently, he organized a local series of underground events dubbed Hush STL, where guests weren’t issued the location and password until 24 hours before the event.

Assisting him in the endeavor is executive chef Kyle Parks, a restaurant veteran and instructor at L’École Culinaire for the last three years. Parks’ overriding mantra at Cork n’ Slice is “elegant simplicity.”

Parks makes the pizza dough from ultra-fine, Italian “00” flour, so he classifies his 12-inch pies as “Neapolitan-inspired, but not certified Neapolitan,” referring to the style’s strict AVPN guidelines.

Since it’s the only cooking source, the 1,000-degree wood-burning oven will be used for roasting nightly specials of meats, fish, and vegetables. Even though the kitchen is small, Parks says, “all that can be done in house is being done in house,” including desserts. Of note are his chocolate covered strawberry cake and an Irish coffee cheesecake with Irish Whiskey caramel.

Over time, Parks plans to increase the selection of small plates to make it easier for guests to “assemble a meal that’s not pizza-based.” The beverage program will evolve as well, focusing first on wines and bottled craft beers, and then on limited cocktails.

In a few months, a dog-friendly patio will be added, at least doubling the 40 inside seats. The semi-enclosed space will be defined using a combination of wrought iron, planters, and umbrellas. Three Dog Bakery in the Delmar Loop will provide cheese pizza dog treats, among others. Thirdkill jokes of having “a regular pizza menu and a dog pizza menu.”

Initially, Cork n’ Slice will open for dinner only and then transition into lunch. Reservations can be made through Yelp.

Article originally posted by STLMag

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