Artichoke Basille’s Pizza & Brewery
328 East 14th Street
New York, NY
Here is the challenge: three meals in New York, where to eat… What to eat! Rather than me scratching my head, I set up three criterias:
1) Ask a fellow blogger (not necessarily from New York) for suggestions.
2) Ask a friend who lived/has lived in New York City for a suggestion of a place that will not break the piggy bank.
3) Go to a semi-iconic place.
This post tackles point #1 (point #2 will come noon today and #3 will be tomorrow Saturday!), where I asked fellow blogger Sherman for a suggestion of a place I should visit in New York City. He pointed out several ones and, while it was all good, I had one problem: Transportation. For the most part, I was relying in either walking around or public transit which meant my range would be really limited (with my “central” location being New York Penn Station). And, while I have been told that NYC’s public transit is quite good, after a couple of runs with it, I prefer Vancouver’s… Anyway, I thought that after my visit to Ah-Beetz in Abbotsford which serves NY style pizza, I might as well try a pizza from New York! Of course, there are the iconic places, like Di Fara and Lombardi’s; however, there were issues with both places: either, it was too far or had to buy the whole pie. And, then, there was Ray’s which ended up being like a chain… That would have been all good but, instead, I went for a somewhat unconventional option: Artichoke Basille’s Pizza & Brewery.
Now, Artichoke Basille’s (from now on, referred as Artichoke’s) is not near NY Penn Station either: An almost 3Km walk… Yeah, yeah, I could have taken transit but I was still having problems figuring out their system and thought I might as well walk this distance. Couldn’t I have walked to Lombardi’s? Actually, I did later that day, as I was in SoHo, but… Anyway, I arrived just after noon and, as seen above, behold, there was a line already! Fortunately, they were relatively fast and was my turn after almost 10 minutes in the line.
When it was my turn, I asked for two slices (more on that in a moment). When the cashier heard that, she looked at me as if asking me “are you *really* sure”. I just smiled and paid for my order. In the meantime, they were calling each previous customer to pick up their slice. I thought that was odd because…
Yup, some of them were already prepared, sitting there, waiting for customers to order it. Even then, they did not take a piece, put it on a plate and give it to the customer. Instead, they were reheating some of the pieces first. Under normal circumstances, that might be an issue: in the case they have been sitting there for a while, even reheating it won’t bring it back. To “counter” that issue, Artichoke’s have only four types of pizza: artichoke spinach, crab, “Margarita” and Sicilian rather than six or eight as seen in some pizza parlours.
As mentioned above, I ordered two slices, the first one being the “Margarita” – The obvious reason was to compare it to the one from Ah-Beetz. Right after I received my order, I ran into a small problem. There aren’t any tables! Instead, there were some benches outside and a makeshift counters (that is where I ended up eating). Also, I understood why the cashier asked me the “are you sure” question. The piece was !#%!@#$ huge. That single slice was longer than the plate’s diameter! Furthermore…
It was way thicker than the one from Ah-Beetz. At that point, I had to tell myself: no comparison can be made given such difference. Too bad…. The “Margarita” had some sweetness from the tomato but wasn’t too overpowering. The cheese provided a slight creaminess and saltiness to the pie. An almost perfect combination of the two that made me want to just keep on eating. The basil disappointed a little bit because it wasn’t really aromatic; however, I won’t complain because it had to go back to the oven which might have “destroyed” all the flavours it had. The dough was crispy but not too doughy. As seen above, it had its “leopard spots”, considered by many to be the indicator of a good/controlled oven and a good dough. That might be true; however, there was something distracting. As mentioned above, it was thick and, in the end, really heavy.
For the second piece, I went for the slice that gives the shop its name: artichoke spinach. The dough was even slightly heavier than the “Margarita” but I soon found out that was required. That is because the best way to describe this pizza would be some pizza dough with an artichoke spinach dip on top. Had it been too thin, it would have not been able to “hold” that mix. Flavourwise, it was really savoury (not salty, though), again, similar to an artichoke spinach dip. And, similar to the “Margarita”, I wanted to keep bite after bite.
After eating about half of each slice, I gave up. There was no way I would have ended up eating both slices! Still, I do not regret not finishing them; on the contrary, I might have regretted it had I overeaten… In the end, while this might not be 100% representative of NY style pizza, I really liked it. Not perfect but has some unique characteristics I appreciate. Would I come back? Well, it depends: I might want to go to Lombardi’s first; otherwise, yes!