The line extends down the strip of the Mercado Monier at noon on Wednesday. Within a half hour, the slices of Sicilian pizza are all gone.

“I haven’t had a slice of Sicilian in years,” says Jeff Collins, a Tucsonan who spent his childhood in New York.

Jeff finds himself among another group of native New Yorkers at the patio and they begin to chat about food, New York and life in general.

This is the atmosphere that Travis Evans wanted to create when he envisioned Whole Slice, a new pizza slice shop located at the Monier, across from the Mercado Annex.

“I’d go back almost every year to New York and just eat pizza and talk to old friends,” Evans says. “Then I just got that itch. I was like, ‘I want to do a slice shop’.”

The idea of the slice shop began at Falora, where Evans worked and later became co-owner. He pitched the idea to his business partner Ari Shapiro, who was immediately interested in the idea.

Like Falora, Whole Slice offers plentiful vegan options (Evans and Shapiro are both vegan). Every pizza offered on the main menu has a mirrored vegan version.

And like most New York City slice shops, Evans wanted to keep the menu simple, offering four different styles, along with their vegan counterparts and the popular Sicilian slices, which come with cheese or pepperoni.

“Important to me after being vegan for seven or eight years was having options,” Evans said.

Travis Takes New York

Evans is a Tucson native who set off for New York to be a chef. But the road to culinary mastery began a bit rocky.

“I left Tucson in 1997 to move to New York City for a job opportunity that didn’t pan out,” Evans said. “

Undaunted, Evans stayed in New York and tried everything he could to make it work.

“So I ended up reaching out to a friend that was already in the city and he was working at Sullivan Street Bakery,” Evans said. “I ended up becoming the head baker for like 10 years.”

After learning from the best, Evans returned to Tucson, where he met Shapiro and began working at Falora.

While he never thought much about making pizza, Evans found the transition easy enough.

“At the time I was mostly focused on bread so I didn’t think to myself that I would open a pizza shop,” Evans said. “But that fell into my lap when I got back to Tucson.”

With Whole Slice, Travis wanted to cultivate the feel of a tight-knit, New York City neighborhood. He found the perfect spot at the Mercado.

“You can see people passing by,” he says. “There’s the railcar system, it’s so familiar, so similar to the subway. There’s all this liveliness around us.”

Rob Martinez, a social content creator originally from New York, says that the restaurant captures this atmosphere.

“A New York City slice shop is kind of like this,” Martinez. “It’s like this little courtyard, where you start meeting people.”

Whole Slice is located in the Mercado Monier at 160 South Avenida del Convento #164. The shop is open 11-9 Monday-Thursday and 11-10 on Friday and Saturday.