Artichoke Basilles Pizza | 328 E. 14th St. | 212.228.2004 | | | |
THE LAST TIME I TOOK the 6 train downtown to 14th Street, it was in an attempt to get two PHUDE visits done in one trip. Making it more convenient would be the fact that the first place I was going to, This Little Piggy Had Roast Beef, was just opened by the owners of the second place, Artichoke Pizza.

Fortunately for my mouth but unfortunately for my plan, the "This Way" sandwich at This Little Piggy was so good, I wound up ordering another of the three only sandwiches they sell, their "The Other Way" Pastrami on Rye. By the time I got through half of that particular deliciousness, I could eat no more. I would save my visit to Artichoke for another day.

Well, that day was today, and I would likewise use the opportunity to hit the owners other dessert place, called Led Zeppole, that was only two doors away, and sample some of their sweet wares as well.

I had passed the front of Artichoke on many of the frequent occasions I've been traveling to this neighborhood to try out the new restaurants that seem to open there seemingly every week; I finally walked in and felt welcomed by the modestly small space.

The place was nicely decorated by cutesy chotchkes (sp?), such as a leg lamp, chandelier, our young, natty, downtown couple.

The menu, much like This Little Pig's, was mindfully minimal, and the instantly likeable Brendan, who was my server, informed me that all of the only three iterations of their pizza—Margherita, the signature Artichoke, and Crab—were very popular. I had come for the oft-raved about and super popular Artichoke slice, and Brendan happily obliged.

This Artichoke slice has appeared on more than a few "best pizzas" list—including New York Magazine's list of Best Bargains-Critics' favorite cheap food—and I now know why. There is something quite special about this slice, and something so preternaturally perfect about matching this particular vegetable with this the food staple, that, in my opinion, it isn't really fair to rate it with other pizzas. It's like trying to discern what your favorite fish is (cod, monkfish, branzino?), then comparing it to lobster. Yes, it's seafood, but a whole other animal (literally and figuratively). Sure, this is a slice of pizza, but it, too, is in a category all its own.

Speaking of seafood, I was so impressed with the slice that I took it upon myself to order the Crab slice to not only divine whether or not this shoppe had just the one trick up its sleeve, but to sate culinary lust for all foods nautical.

Another delight, with great crab bites and flavors, another thin, crispy crust, and a smooth creamy sauce subtly reminiscent of a fine bisque.

It was a little after 2 p.m. and the place gets crowded pretty quickly with just a handful of customers, as it did as I finished my second slice and worried that I had, again, cut my eating agenda short, having left scant room in my tummy for zeppoles of any kind (or the Brendan-recommended cream puffs that Led Zeppole seems to also be famous for).

I had out-eaten myself again, but regretted little having enjoyed doing so. Maybe I'll just drop by Led Zeppole and pick up a little sumpn'-sumpn' to take home.... ;)

Bun Apple Tea!


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Artichoke Basilles Pizza | 328 E. 14th St. | 212.228.2004 | | | |