Chelsea: A First Look at Artichoke Basille's West
Please welcome Maggie Hoffman to the Slice fold. She's going to be helping out and hanging out here more and more. —The Mgmt.
114 Tenth Avenue, New York NY 10011 (at 17th Street; map); 212-792-9200; artichokepizza.com
Pizza Style: New York–style
Oven Type: Gas
The Skinny: New sit-down pie joint in the Meatpacking District
Price: Pies around $17
"The media doesn't know we're open yet," our waitress told us conspiratorially. Still, most of the tables at the new Tenth Avenue branch of Artichoke Basille's were full of customers late last week. Media or no, word has gotten out.
The new restaurant is good-looking in a trendy way, with subway tiles and Edison lightbulbs. The soundtrack is lively, and the view of the High Line is dramatic. It's a sit-down spot with pies sized for sharing: Though they're called "personal" size, there are six sizable slices in each of the round pies.
We started wtih a Margherita ($16). It's a sauce-forward pie and the sauce is nice, fresh-tasting, and sweet without being sugary. But at least half of each slice dissolves into a soupy puddle; this is pizza you need to eat with a spoon. The pizzamaker scatters grated pecorino over the pie after it comes out of the oven, adding a pretty serious sodium quotient.
The new location has two new pies on the menu. According to our waitress, the burnt anchovy pizza ($17) is twice-baked, and the crust seemed a bit crisper and sturdier to us. It's a salty and savory pie due to the anchovies, but it's not overly fishy, and the sweetness of the tomato sauce balances it well. If you like real Caesar salad (and I do), then this pie may appeal, though I'm not sure I'd eat six slices of it in a sitting.
The new meatball pie ($17) was a bigger hit among our group. It's really more like a seasoned-hamburger pizza; the meatball mixture is scattered on the pizza before baking, not precooked in ball form. The result is sort of like a well-seasoned Bolognese sauce, and we loved the flavors, though one of my dining companions described the texture of this pie as "swampy." Still, this is the pie I'd return for, along with a Margherita if I were with a group.
It's early in the game for this new branch of Artichoke, but we wonder if the crusts could all be a little more evenly cooked. The top half of the crust and the cornicione were toasty-crisp, sometimes too stiff to bite through, while the rest dissolved completely. It makes for tasty pizza soup, but it's a bit messy to eat.
The Sicilian pie ($17) was a bit smaller than the others, but the triangular slices were thick and robust— perhaps a bit thicker than the ones at the East Village branch. The tangy cheese really comes through in this pie; but it's not the right choice for those devoted to tender, chewy crusts.
The vegetarian among us enjoyed the artichoke pie ($17) but I wished it had more artichoke hearts to add texture. If you have a weakness for creamy artichoke dip, you probably already know about this pizza and will be glad to have it as an option at the West Side location. It's rich stuff, but maybe that's just what the clubgoers in the Meatpacking District are looking for.