It’s been a big week for critically acclaimed New York City pizza chain Artichoke Basille, which opened its eighth location in Bushwick last Wednesday.
The Bushwick Artichoke is operating out of 18 Wyckoff Ave., the location which housed Bushwick’s pioneer farm to table restaurant Northeast Kingdom for an entire decade. As such, the Bushwick community has made it clear that the pizza chain has big shoes to fill in the neighborhood.
But Artichoke, which has grown at a breakneck pace in the eight years since its original location opened (and which has heavy hitter foodie fans like Momofuku’s David Chang), clearly has a way of winning people over.
Artichoke opened a ninth location in Bay Ridge last week as well; there’s also a Park Slope Artichoke on 5th Avenue near the Barclay’s Center, so now Brooklyn has three of the late night pizza spots.
Bushwick Daily popped in to confirm that the family-owned business is off to a scrumptious start!
Bushwick night owls, take note: Artichoke is a true late night spot! The current hours of operation are from from 11 a.m. until 2 a.m. on weekdays and until 5 a.m. on weekends, and they will soon expand so that the joint stays open until to 5 a.m. every day.
The bar is not yet operational, but once it is, there will be suds on tap that pair perfectly with the house’s signature slices.
The Origin Story
Artichoke’s owners are Staten Island cousins Francis Garcia and Sal Basille, who came to be the successful pizzaiolos they are today by tossing dough and experimenting with different pies in the kitchen of the famed, recently shuttered Staten Island pizzeria Basille.
The “Basille” from Artichoke Basille is an homage to that very restaurant. The family pizzeria was opened in 1988 by Sal’s mother Bella; Francis’s mother Josephine took over Basille in 1993. “We all worked there together, me and my cousins, my brother, my sister,” recounts Garcia.
“When I was 14 years old I hated school, so my mother said, you either go to school or you go to work,” smiles Garcia.
In fact, one of Artichoke Basille’s current counter workers Jerry Iovino, who similarly hails from Staten Island tells Bushwick Daily that he frequented Basille back when he and his father worked construction jobs together on the island’s north side during the late 1990s. “That was the best Italian place on that side of Staten Island!” proclaims Iovino.
With a lot of ambition and a burning desire to join the fold of NYC’s competitive pizzeria scene, Garcia opened Staten Island restaurant Ciao Bella when he was just 22, later selling it for “a bunch of money,” with which he bought a boat. “The boat sunk, so I went back to work for my mom,” laughs Garcia.
The pie at Artichoke has been compared to quintessential NYC slices like Di Fara’s, and Garcia tells Bushwick Daily that what sets the Artichoke Basille slice apart from other spots is its base: “This is a four pound dough,” explains Garcia.
The Artichoke slice is as indulgent as it is heavy, and though you definitely need a napkin, my mind was blown by how the thick crust anchored the creamy artichoke sauce, and how both the crust and sauce are equally flavorful and satisfying.
“A lot of people say ‘oh, five bucks for an Artichoke slice,’ but a lot of people come in and split them in half and it fills [them] up! You go out and after a night of drinking, half an Artichoke slice is gonna straighten you right up,” Garcia contends.
The pepperoni slice is similar to Bushwick pizza mainstay Archie’s pie, in that a multitude of small, flavorful pepperonis are strewn about the steamy slice. The simple, classic three-ingredient pizza sauce works so perfectly with the pepperonis that it’s almost as if there are ground-up pepperonis in the sauce itself.
Brick walls and tin ceilings give Artichoke an interior that will feel familiar to Bushwick diners.
The only obvious relic left over from Northeast Kingdom days are the rustic beer draft handles, an old-timey touch which is complemented by a baby grand piano built in the 1920s that customers are welcome to play.
Because Garcia and Basille didn’t have the heart to take down Northeast Kingdom’s beautiful awning, the flashy marquee they added to it conjures up old movie theater signage and is unique to this Artichoke location.
“We wanted to put the signage on top [of the building], above the second story, and our landlord said ‘no you can’t do that,’ so I said ‘all right, well, I want to keep the awning and I want my trademark signage that we have at every other location,’ so we figured why don’t we just put the signage around the awning … and we lit it up with the ‘Broadway’ lights,” smiles Garcia.
A copy of an original painting done by Garcia’s great-grandfather depicts three of the Kennedy brothers in the front of the restaurant, next to the pizzeria’s beautiful pop-out windows.
The unusual work of art, which is also up at every other Artichoke Basille location, is also on display at the LaGuardia airport. “He must be doing handstands in his grave,” jokes Garcia.
Though Artichoke Basille is technically a chain, Garcia and Basille both feel that the chain designation belies the heart and soul their enterprise puts into each sumptuous pie. “We’re a self-funded, small company. My mom does our bookkeeping,” reveals Garcia.
Whether you’re taking your Artichoke pizza to stay, on the go, early or late, a pizzeria like this one is a wonderful thing to have in the neighborhood!
All photos by Ramon Pebenito for Bushwick Daily.
A family-owned pizzeria serving decdent pies.
18 Wyckoff Avenue, steps from the Jefferson Avenue stop on the L train at the corner of Wyckoff Avenue and Troutman Street; Brooklyn, NY 11237.
Mon-Fri 11:00 am – 2:00 am and until 5 a.m. on weekends (5 a.m. daily closing time coming soon!)