Let's together agree on what Artichoke is. It's like Shake Shack, really, if instead of perfect burgers, Shake Shack's headline offering was huge piles of melted butter and cream on tasteless crackers.
Indeed, Artichoke is Shake Shack insomuch people are willing to wait on massive lines for three to five minutes of gustatory bliss. Although -- sorry one more point of comparison -- at Shake Shack there is a payoff and at Artichoke the only post-game emotion is the empty feeling that you have gotten a little fatter for no good reason.
He goes on to mention that the Staten Island Slice is actually worth the money, but immediately continues by pointing out that "if you disagree with what's being said here, you need to take a good long hard look at yourself. You do not know pizza like you think you do. That's sad, but fixable. Go to Ben's, have a $3 slice, call me and tell me I'm wrong."
I didn't call him, but I did think he's wrong and pointed it out to him over on Twitter. Here's how the exchange went down:
- @TheFoodLab: I... disagree with you, buddy. Artichoke might not be $5 good, but it's still really good. also not fair to compare artichoke pizza to a NY slice. different beast/different needs. 1 craving doesn't satisfy the other.
@BenLeventhal: What craving does Artichoke satisfy, exactly?
@TheFoodLab: The craving for foldable, holdable olive-oil-y, slightly charred lasagna. Also - their grandma slices are very good. One of the best in the city, I'd even say.
@BenLeventhal: Don't start w that, sir. Grandma slice isn't even in the conversation. Unless 10 Cars water crackers stacked is your thing.
@TheFoodLab: 20 deliciously olive oil-soaked carrs crackers w/ crusty charred cheese, yes. I am with you that the crusts there could use more chew. But it's still a pretty damn big slice for $5
@BenLeventhal: Size matters why?
@TheFoodLab: If you're calling them out on a value proposition, size definitely matters.
@BenLeventhal: I'm calling them out on the proposition top to bottom. If I want two slices, I'll buy two slices.
@TheFoodLab: point is that what artichoke serves isn't NY-style pizza, so comparing the two is utterly pointless.
That's the end of the online dustup thus far and I appreciate Ben's defense of the good old fashioned New York slice—it's what I grew up on, after all—but I stand strongly by my words: Artichoke's pizza is absolutely not good New York pizza, but it does its own thing in an extremely tasty way. Comparing a thick, crunchy olive-oily, lightly charred, Pecorino-dusted slice of Artichoke's pizza to the crisp, pliant, industrial-grade mozzarella, bright-sauced New York pizza of Ben's is a pointless comparison to make. They don't really compete in the same sphere.
Either way, it's a fun read and an interesting take on the line-up-for-anything culture in New York.
I know there's a lot of mixed opinion about Artichoke out there, so tell me what you think: Artichoke, yay or nay?
About the author: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt is the Chief Creative Officer of Serious Eats where he likes to explore the science of home cooking in his weekly column The Food Lab. You can follow him at @thefoodlab on Twitter, or at The Food Lab on Facebook.