Heated debate! Is ‘Artichoke’ pizza too fancy for Bay Ridge?

Heated debate! Is ‘Artichoke’ pizza too fancy for Bay Ridge?
Community News Group / Caroline Spivack

This pizza is slicing Bay Ridge in two!

Locals are divided over news that artisinal pizza mini-chain Artichoke Basille’s is cooking up a storefront on the corner of 91st Street and Fourth Avenue. A few are already feening for eatery’s butter-and-cream-laden, Artichoke-topped pies — but crusty purists are cheesed off that cooks are trying to pass anything with vegetables off as pizza, one said.

“Vegetables should be nowhere near my pizza. If you’re going to do pizza, do pizza — get it dripping with cheese and sauce and grease,” said Ridgite Michael Marotto, who argued Nino’s on Third Avenue and 91st Street is the real deal. “To me a real slice of pizza is plain or pepperoni. When people start adding all these fancy toppings, they lose me. Artichokes belong in salads, not pizza.”

Rumors have simmered since springtime that the restaurant — contentious among New York pizza aficionados — was eyeing Bay Ridge.

Of seven locals surveyed, two were warm to an Artichoke opening, and five said the restaurant was a crime against chewmanity — none had eaten there before.

The notion of any toppings at all is too much to swallow, another gastronome said.

“Artichokes? No thanks. Plain is all I need,” said Loutfi Fares, who regularly buys pies from Pizza Wagon for family dinners with his nine children and 23 grandchildren. “Nothing beats a plain slice.”

Artichoke has six kitchens peppered across the city — and another in California — and serves up crab, meatball, and margherita pizzas in addition to its eponymous artichoke pie. Co-owner Francis Garcia, a Staten Island native, understands the personal attachment to the plain slice but feels his menu has a lot of offer Bay Ridgites.

“Pizza is a very personal thing,” said Garcia. “We’re native New Yorkers, we’re not trying to hurt anybody. We just hope to bring a little bit of variety. I hope that everybody comes out and gives it a try.”

Garcia and his cousin opened the first Artichoke in Manhattan in 2008 after working in their family’s Staten Island restaurant Basille’s for years. The 91st Street location replaces Verrazano Pizza and will be the borough’s second Artichoke — the first is in Park Slope. Garcia plans to open before the month is out, he said.

Picky pizza eaters aside there are still those in the nabe excited to sink their teeth into an artichoke pie — after all, how many red-sauce-and-cheese slices does one neighborhood need, another eater said.

“I definitely plan on coming over and trying a slice,” said Christine Bravermen, who usually goes to Luigi’s on Third Avenue and 85th Street. “I’ve heard they’re really good, and I’m a sucker for those speciality slices. It’s nice to have something different in the neighborhood.”

Reach reporter Caroline Spivack at cspivack@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2517. Follow her on Twitter @carolinespivack.
Moving in: Manhattan mini-chain Artichoke Basille’s Pizza is opening a new location on the corner of 91st Street and Fourth Avenue in Bay Ridge.
Community News Group / Caroline Spivack