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The Artichoke Basille Duo Talks New TV Show, 'Pizza Cuz'

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[Photographs Courtesy of CookingChannel.com]

I owe Artichoke Pizza a lot. So many late night cravings satisfied—and so many hangovers dodged—with those over-the-top slices. There's the Margherita, with its tangy sauce and full basil leaves spread over the surface, topped with thin melted slices of mozzarella. But their real claim to fame is the artichoke slice, a wedge of buttery, creamy spinach-artichoke dip that drips down your face as you eat it. It's also the site of some pretty serious debate here at Slice. But whether you love it or hate it, you gotta admit that Artichoke has become a New York institution—for some of us* at least.

*Yes, that's me.

Now, co-owners (and cousins) Francis Garcia and Sal Basille are embarking on a new joint venture. You'll be able to catch the duo tonight on their brand new Cooking Channel show, Pizza Cuz. The premise? Two men, six episodes, and one epic journey to sample some of the best slices this country has to offer.

We took some time to chat with them about the show before tonight's premiere.

What did you want to accomplish by having this show?

Francis: Growing up in the pizza business, one of the things we always did was go to other pizzerias. When the production company asked if we wanted to do a show where we'd get to try pizza, it was a definite yes.

Sal: In the show we go around to all these great pizzerias. We get to try new styles of pizza, and we get to compare it to our own. It's something we've been doing all our lives.

What is the biggest challenge about working with a family member?

Francis: There are some I'd go into business with and some I wouldn't. Me and Sal are great partners; we don't bump heads. My own brother, I wouldn't go into business with him if you handed me the keys to the Palazzo hotel for free.

Sal: We expect a lot from each other.

How do you feel about pineapple on pizza?

Francis: I hate it.

Sal: I'm open to it. I didn't grow up eating it, but just recently I tried it with my girlfriend. It's not bad at all.

What inspired your most famous slice, the artichoke slice?

Francis: I started making it in 2006 at my mother's restaurant. I knew it was going to be a hit. For every table that came in, I would take a slice of the artichoke pizza and put it in with the Italian bread on the table and people would flip out. When me and Sal opened Artichoke, we handed out free samples and it just exploded.

Any tricks for our home pizza-makers?

There are a lot of tricks to getting New York-style pizza. For the water, use Poland Springs or Dasani.

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What is the most underrated slice you've tried from your travels?

There was a place we went to on Mission Street called Zante. It was started by a couple of Indian guys from Queens...The space was originally a pizza joint. They kept the pizza ovens and decided to make Indian pizza with turmeric in the crust and toppings like curry powder, cilantro and tandoori chicken. It was out of this world.

How many artichoke slices have you eaten in your lifetime?

Too many. Way too many.

How did you celebrate when you found out you had your own show?

We ordered Papa John's.*

*They were kidding...right, guys?!

Pizza Cuz premiers Monday, May 6th at 9pm ET / 6pm PT

Want to know more? Click here to see the trailer »

About the author: Ariel Kanter is a writer, editor and food enthusiast living in New York City. She has contributed to Gilt City, AM New York, City Unlisted and BonAppetit.com—and when she's not in the kitchen, she's listening to Frank Sinatra and reading fantasy novels.

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