A pizzaiolo pokes at the edges of a pillowing pale crust with a knife, feebly attempting to prevent it overtaking the confines of a slim, coal-fired oven. On the plexi-shielded counter—instead of subdued marinara slices or dainty grandma-style squares—ponderous wedges of heavy cream-sauced dough threaten to eclipse their trays and slither onto the floor.
This is Artichoke Basille’s, a profligate pizza shop fronted by a pair of gregarious, Staten Island-born cousins, which originated in Manhattan back in 2008. Bolstered by steady attention from outlets like “The Tonight Show,” “The Rachael Ray Show” and “The Chew,” it eventually expanded throughout the city, to include its first foray into Brooklyn (ministering to the self-indulgent crowds from the Barclays Center) in 2015. And Artichoke seriously amplified its borough presence only two weeks ago, with both a Bushwick outpost in the former Northeast Kingdom space—merrily thumbing its nose at the refined, wood-fired rounds from Roberta’s and Ops—as well as a storefront on the border of Bay Ridge, a known haven of classic, no-frills coal pies, a la Pizza Wagon, Espresso’s and Peppino’s.
Yet Artichoke Basille’s offerings only qualify as pizza in the strictest sense, and are infinitely more enjoyable when regarded as their own thing. Such as UFO-proportioned conveyances for spinach and artichoke dip, perhaps, liberally imbued with white wine and garlic, and thickened with a month’s fat and calorie allotment of butter, cream and cheese. Another house signature is the crab slice—dwarfed by the ‘choke in depth (but as exceptionally wide) it features frizzles of fake, breadcrumb-bombed crustacean, surmounted in orange, fish-infused goo. Sound awful? Consider it akin to a screwy app from TGI Fridays—albeit paired with 32 oz. Big Gulp beers, in lieu of goblets of Sangria ‘Rita—undeniably appealing, in an inexplicable sort of way.
Hey, if Pete Wells can bestow stars on Señor Frogs, even pizza purists can crack a smile at Artichoke’s exuberant, not-quite pies.
18 Wyckoff Ave., Bushwick or 9102 Fourth Ave., Bay Ridge