Wednesday, August 20, 2008
I couldn't get Incarcerated Scarfaces out of my head as I waited for my slice. The owners are from Staten Island where one of their families runs Basilles, an Italian restaurant, and I couldn't shake the Shaolin/NYC connection. Plus I needed something to distract me from the dancing hipster weirdos in the tight quarters. It was just too fucking extra for me. Not to the point that we had to bounce, but close. Hopefully the disco ball was just an aberration.
Artichoke wasn't on my radar. I read the review in the NY Times several months ago but it didn't fill me with that feeling of urgency to run downtown and see what I was missing. Honestly I was heading down to St. Mark's to grab an egg cream and there was an empty spot on the corner of 2nd and 14th. AlFresh, HowFresh's brother, suggested we park there and walk a couple of blocks. So romantic. Then he remembered that Artichoke was right around there. Little man knows his shit.
I passed it once or twice in the past month and there was always a decent sized line snaking out the door heading west. At around 10:30 on a Saturday night there was a small line maybe 10 people deep. I'm getting tired of lines. Unless it's for a pair of sneakers. Holla. The longest I ever waited for pizza was close to an hour and that was at DiFara's in Brooklyn. But it was for a pie, and you got to watch the artist at work. What's deceptive about Artichoke is that the counter is only 6 feet or so from the door, so as long as there are 6 people, a small line will form. Don't get gassed.
I ordered a plain slice while Fresh Junior ordered the namesake Artichoke slice. At first I thought that was all they made, as that's all I heard being ordered, but when I got to the counter I saw an odd pie in the left corner. Turned out to be a crab pie. No thank you. It seemed to take a little while to get 2 slices. There appeared to be some confusion behind the counter. There were several slices sitting on the silver disc but nobody was dishing them out. And people were waiting for plain slices. I'll chalk that up to the mini rave that took place earlier. All those glow sticks can fuck up your train of thought.
The slices are big. And very filling. For the $3.50 or $4 you pay (I believe both slices cost $7.50- not sure of the exact breakdown), you get your moneys worth. The plain slice has a nice cheese to sauce ratio. The tomato's sweetness comes through on a slightly charred crust. That alone works for me, but what elevates this slice to the next level is the use of whole fresh basil leaves once the pie is removed from the oven. The bites of fresh basil with some added parmesan cheese make this a winner.
I don't care for artichokes, but this place makes a mean artichoke slice. It isn't your typical slice with cheese, sauce and the topping. It seems as if an artichoke/spinach dip is ladeled over a thick focacia type crust and evenly spread throughout. It had a nice creaminess with strong hints of garlic. It was thicker than the regular slice with a doughier, chewier crust.
As long as the lines aren't unwieldy I'll be back. Be aware that there are no tables, only a small counter that can accommodate 4 people. I'm not too aware of decent slices in the surrounding area, so this place will definitely fill a niche. As far as the Brewery part of the title, beats me. I didn't order any beer and didn't see any beer to be ordered. Guess it has a nicer ring than just pizza.
Artichoke Basilles Pizza & Brewery
328 E. 14th St. betw. 1st and 2nd Aves.
NY, NY 10003
Call for hours.