Pizza month continues – and this week’s review is of Artichoke Basille’s Pizzeria. Elana and I went to their newer location on 17th street and 10th avenue. I had walked there from the PATH station on 14th street and 6th – which, ordinarily, would not be considered a long walk, however it was pouring. By the time I stepped inside, my sneakers were absolutely drenched. This place had better be worth it.
This Artichoke location is only a couple of months old. As a result, they were still sorting out the whole beer thing/liquor license I guess, because I could only get soda. Not a huge deal. I love fountain soda with pizza. Despite its apparent young age, the joint is broken-in quite nicely – it has an old Italian pizzeria feel to it; a long mahogany bar, small black and white tiles for the floor, and wood seats. There are flat screens to watch the game, and somewhat loud music playing. Typically, this would have been an annoyance, but for the outrageously good lineup of tunes. The Pretenders, Michael Jackson, Toto (Rosanna and Africa) – my night was officially turning around.
There is an Artichoke slice shop located immediately next door, where one can mix and match slices. The main section, however, restricts one from doing so – only pies. And judging by the size of our neighbor’s pie, only one was necessary. They are fairly large at 16 inches across, and somewhat pricey as well at $24 for the Margherita pie. Artichoke’s style of making pizza is what I would classify as American. Previously, I had discussed the three ways that most Italian pizzerias make pies – (1) Neopolitan (2) Hybrid Neopolitan/American (3) American. What makes Artichoke an American pizzeria, to me, is the oven they use: Baker’s Pride ovens. These type of ovens are found in many pizzerias across the country. Go into your local pizzeria and, chances are, you will see a Baker’s Pride oven doing the cooking. These ovens cannot get quite as hot as well functioning brick pizza ovens. The result of this is that the pizza will take longer to cook. The pizza is also more evenly cooked the American way.
Artichoke’s Margherita is definitely evenly cooked. It is also awesome. The pizza is tastily burnt, and HUGE on flavor. Along with the mozzarella, Artichoke adds Parmesan. Its tomato sauce is simply wonderful. Very oily (which I love) and fresh. They also throw in a healthy dose of basil leaves. All of this, as previously noted, is cooked to an absolute glorious crisp. And, due to the amount of time this sucker was cooking in the oven, the pizza is extremely hot. This is another difference between pies made the American way vs. the Neopolitan way. Although the American pie is not exposed to the high, volcanic temperatures that the Neopolitan pie is exposed to, it spends a much longer time in the oven. It has to in order to get cooked. The result, especially in Artichoke’s case, is a very hot pie all the way through. The beginning, middle and crust of Artichoke’s pie is crispy throughout. This stiffness is demonstrated in the below photos.
Here, the inflexibility is, in my opinion, incredible. They really put the “pie” in pizza pie. Just look at that slice on the left as well. There is even a crust to the cheese; a noticeable snap accompanying every bite, yet never once it is overdone or bitter. It has been baked to perfection; teetering on the brink of being burnt, but never crossing the line. This pizza is worth every penny. Really just some fine craftsmanship.
Service is just fine, an attentive and friendly staff frequently checked up on us to see how we were doing throughout the experience.
As for the bathrooms, Elana had this to say, “I liked the art that greeted me when I entered, as well as the subway tiles: very iconic NYC. What I first thought was an Xlerator turned out to be a paper towel dispenser, but it was well-stocked. Other than that, everything was clean and on the up-and-up.”
As dedicated pizza enthusiasts, even the entire Margherita pie was not going to stop us from going next door to try their Artichoke pizza. I mean, after all, the name of the place is Artichoke, right? Unfortunately, since it was raining out, we didn’t have the most luxurious of accommodations to try the slice. We took turns shielding each other from the rain with a golf umbrella while we each sampled the slice. In addition, the roofs of our mouths had been carelessly scorched due to our inability to temper our hunger vs. the Margherita pie’s hot temperature. Even speaking to each other was a challenge.
The actual artichoke slice was a different experience. Extremely thick in size, and moderate in temperature, this slice is a gooey, white mess of taste. It was not as positively received as the Margherita Pie, but that could have been an impossible hurdle to clear.
Stationed on the wall between the restaurant and the slice shop is a picture of Oscar the Grouch, as seen above. I wish I had more to say about this, but I really don’t.
I am absolutely going back to this place. I loved it. Artichoke was worth the walk after all. Definitely one of the “heavy hitters” as far as pizza is concerned.
Overall Movie Equivalent – The Big Lebowski