Artichoke Basille’s Pizza
It’s been a bit of a trying weekend in the city. Bus delays, subway re-routing and two freak thunderstorms have been just a few of the more dramatic aspects of my attempting to get my errands done on the couple of days that I have as a respite from my hectic work week. Sometimes, though, Serendipity (not the sweets shop) takes things by the hand and we just have to roll with it.
For weeks, ok, a few months now, I’ve been reading the ravings about a pizza place down in the East Village. Normally, I’m not one to go all ga-ga over the new hottest place, especially when the words “standing on line” are involved. Yesterday, fate took things in her own hand to conspire that I should try this place, at least once.
The bus delays and longer-than-should-have-been-wait in the sweltering summer sunshine meant that by the time the M15 Limited lunged and lurched its way down 2nd Avenue towards 14th Street – my end destination – I could start to hear the slow grumbling of my stomach. The breakfast toast with peanut butter and my usual extra-strength cappuccino would not keep me going much longer. Then, it occurred to me. I’d, in fact, gotten on the wrong bus. Well, not exactly the wrong bus, but one that had taken me further east than I’d meant to go.
What had happened instead was that I’d ended up at a stop not far from Artichoke. I had been a bit peeved at myself once I realized that I should have taken a bus two avenues over from where the bus that I was on, but then I realized a misstep could be turned into good fortune. As I’d mentioned previously, it was hot, I was at that point before being hungry turns into being cranky, and, well, I was in the neighborhood after all so I decided to give it a try.
The line turned out not to be all that bad. There were about 4 or 5 people in front of me. (I wish the line at Shake Shack would be that short whenever I craved one of their burgers.) Like most NYC pizzerias, you order your slice, pay and wait for your order to be reheated. Slice NY has pictures of the options here. I selected their specialty, the spinach and artichoke. The guy on line in front of me said that that was a good choice.
Then, you know how it is in a restaurant, you’ve ordered, but then you see all the food on other people’s plates and wondered if you made the right choice. We were standing there, waiting on our pizza, and then started gazing at the margarita and the sicilian slices there in the cases in front of us. Red and white blobs with slashes of green basil leaves baked on top. The char of the crust just visible from our vantage points. I could just feel the tang of the tomato sauce as I bit into the crunch of the dough.
My companion in waiting assured me that that variety is every bit as good as the reputation for their signature slice. He’d had it before. He couldn’t even put it into words but explained it in sounds: “It was soooo gooood it was like aaaaahhhhhhwwwwww.” Which I’m sure has a technical description somewhere, but I put it down to Pizza Lust. Then, we started examining the other pies coming out of the oven with their gorgeous golden brown crusts and meltingly hot toppings. I love the fact that you can watch them make and pull the pizzas out of the oven. It reminds me of when I was a kid and we could watch through the window at our local pizzeria.
When my slice was ready, I took it piping hot and ready to eat on a paper plate with a fistful of napkins. I bit into the cheesy tip. The creamy spinach sauce and molten pockets of mozzarella created this wonderful ooziness. The artichokes were flaked randomly and added their flavor as a balance to the richness. This is pizza that will make me take the wrong bus downtown again.
This is also the pizza that a random guy stopped me at the corner of 14th Street and 2nd Avenue to ask me where I bought it. I think I might have even caught sight of someone ogling my slice as I made my way westward to the Greenmarket for my weekly shopping trip. On my next detour, I think I’m going to go for the sicilian. Let’s see if that gets me even more attention or maybe even a date.
Artichoke – located on East 14th Street between 1st and 2nd Avenues on the south side of the street, about mid-block. Their hours are about 12:30-ish to sometime early a.m. You can expect a line, and the place is very small with one stand-up counter and no tables. Plan to get your slices to go.