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New: Artichoke Basille's Pizza, Berkeley - any reports?

There's a new pizza place in Berkeley: Artichoke Basille's Pizza I saw on Yelp. Any reports? Yelper said it's a chain from NYC, but website doesn't mention Berkeley location, so not sure.

Artichoke Basille's Pizza
2590 Durant Ave, Berkeley
www.artichokepizza.com

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  1. drove by noonish. looked all boarded up. not open yet?. it's next to the chinese bakery that closed recently.

    didn't stop to check out particulars.

    1. The Berkeleyside article said they're hoping to open before Halloween. They're converting it from retail use, so there are probably permits and inspections that could delay it. A building permit was just issued on October 8.

      http://www.berkeleyside.com/2013/09/2...

        1. re: Pius Avocado III

          Huh. Sounds kind of like Cheeseboard's crust, except for the "Grandma slice," which sounds like it was inspired by Detroit-style pizza.

          1. re: Robert Lauriston

            I dont think grandma slices are connected to detroit.

            Most Grandma slices arent that thick. I thought the key ingredient was anchovies in the sauce, but that does not appear to be the case. And I dont recall seeing any with meat toppings.

            They are one of my favorites of the "standard" NYC Slice House offerings ... the tend to be a little smaller for one, so can try more variety ... will be nice to be able to get one out here.

            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              Grandma slices have been around Long Island for a bit more than twenty years, and have become common in NYC more recently. It's a pan pizza, but the crust is thin and it's not overloaded with toppings. Full story: http://long-island.newsday.com/restau...

              It sounds like Artichoke Basille will be the first to bring Grandma Pizza to the Bay Area. That still leaves an opportunity for someone else to bring garlic knots. Thankfully, we're savvy enough that Long Island abomination "salad pizza" will never see the light of day.

              1. re: hyperbowler

                Too late! Sliver on Center St already has what I would call a salad pizza, a slice topped with mixed salad greens. I've had it with a Thai red cabbage slaw. I actually like it.

                1. re: chocolatetartguy

                  Heh, "salad pizza" on Long Island is your typical pizzeria's "house salad" tossed onto a pizza--- iceberg lettuce, canned olives, shredded carrots, and bargain basement "Italian dressing" (salad oil, vinegar, & dried herbs). I'd assumed something so vile couldn't have derived from California!

                2. re: hyperbowler

                  Thick crust in a heavily oiled pan laden with so much cheese that it spills over and gets crisp sounds like they were influenced by Detroit style to me.

                  I think Ed Ladou might have invented salad pizza in the mid-80s when he developed the original menu for California Pizza Kitchen. I've seen them on lots of menus.

                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                    The popular theory on the inspiration for Artichoke's square (and one that i ascribe to) is that it is attempting to replicate Dominic's pizza at DiFara, a Brookyn institution. Im fairly certain Dominic has never been to detroit (he moved to Brooklyn from italy, and started making pizzas to feed his 7 kids, the internet made him famous and thats how it is). His pies are, id say, a bit idiosyncratic, and his square is what made him famous - it is indeed a well oiled pan pizza, and an oily-crispy crust, verging on burnt (sadly closer than verging in more recent visits) is emblematic of his style.

                    I've never been a fan of Artichokes "regular" (round) pies/slices, but the square has hit the spot after a long night of drinking. my impression is that the quality control has suffered since they began expanding so aggressively (multiple NYC outposts at this point, plus a frozen line).

                  2. re: hyperbowler

                    FYI, A Slice of NY in the South Bay has garlic knots.

                    I texted a picture of some abominations-slices from a place on Bedford in Williamsburg to some friends ... i think one hand ranch dressing on it ... and got some concerned/upset responses :-)

                    >sounds like they were influenced by Detroit style to me.
                    >
                    that's a very specific diagnosis. when there is no reason to rule out common ancestor, convergent evolution, or coincidence.

                    Sliver also borrowed that from Cheeseboard before the split.
                    i dont think cheeseboard 5yrs ago had a slice more or less covered with loose raw greenery. i do see it from time to time now ... like you actually need to get a plastic fork to eat the greens off the slice.

                    BTW, I had a 10 or 15min conversation with that fellow Tony at Capo's some time back ... he is really excited to talk about pizza. He had a lot of say about Detroit and St. Louis pizza, among the more unusual pizza options. Anyway, if you spot him, he seems happy to talk to interested parties.

                    1. re: hyperbowler

                      I find the pan pizza at Rotten City to be a lot like a Long Island grandma slice. The crust is too thin to be called Sicilian, and they bake in an olive-oil coated pan, so it picks up just a little crunch.

                      1. re: hyperbowler

                        Good article on Staten Island pizza with brief mention of grandma pies here:

                        http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/30/din...

                          1. re: Pius Avocado III

                            I tried the grandma pie at Presidio Pizza and didn't like the sweet taste and heavier crust (compared with typical NY slices). I am not sure if it was the pesto or what but I don't like a sweet slice.

                  3. Wow! That's exciting... if it's anything like the original in NY, their sicilian pie is like nothing we have in the Bay Area! People get excited about the artichoke pizza but the star is the sicilian pie!

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: cubbee

                      Yeah, but will it be the same as NY with California water? (wink wink)

                      1. re: Tripeler

                        and things are never as good as the original when they expand, open more locations, move across country etc... their Chelsea restaurant isn't nearly as good as the original take out shop on 14th in the East Village... but let's hope it's close.

                    2. OMG i'm so excited!!!! But why Berkeley? :(( sigh so far.

                      1. From their Twitter account @ArtichokeCal: Looks like Wed 11/6/13 is their soft opening. Full opening Sat 11/9 for the Cal v USC game.

                        1 Reply
                        1. I went tonight.

                          Got two Margherita slices and one of the artichoke. I had wanted to try the Sicilian, but they only had the Vodka version, which looks quite different.

                          The Margherita slices were okay. Flavors were not bad, but ordinary. The crust was way too stiff. I don't know if this was a re-heating issue; maybe a whole pie is the way to go. I couldn't even tell if a whole pie was a possibility; there were no menus up.

                          The artichoke slice was for my friend, who described it as "kinda good, kinda gross." To be fair, maybe the cream sauce on a pizza thing is just not for her.

                          I overheard the guys discussing how they'd "just flown in"--from New York, I assume.

                          It wasn't bad, but I was disappointed. I'll be waiting a month or so to see if these were opening glitches.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: UglyPlate

                            I stopped in for lunch. There were about ten people in line, and it kept growing.

                            I'm surprised at UP's (and the Slice review's) comment that the crust was stiff. My Margherita slice was very floppy. Very basic sauce, and happily they don't over-cheese the thing.

                            I also had a grandma (Sicilian would have a much thicker, bready crust). Again, the review on Slice was different from my slice in that it had no discernible olive oil. The crusts on the grandmas I'm familiar with are crisp from being slightly fried in the olive oil coating the pan.

                            The artichoke did look "kinda gross", much thicker crust and toppings, but it was outselling the others combined five to one.

                            A little pricey at $4.00 for tasty but not exemplary slices. It'll be very popular among locals, where the competition is the thick, cheesy pies at Fat Slice and Blondies, but I'm fine with other places around town.

                          2. Hilarious pan by Paolo Lucchesi:

                            "There are two distinct schools of thought when it comes to Artichoke. Many, many people love it, and that’s fine. Other, smarter people think it’s a bready slab of dough—cracker hard on the outside, dry and flavorless inside—topped generously with a layer of cream sauce, vegetable remnants and greasy congealed cheese. The slice is a hulking laptop-sized mass of bread and various cream products, given directly to the customer from the marble counter, with no offer to warm it up in the big oven in the backdrop."

                            http://insidescoopsf.sfgate.com/blog/...

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: Robert Lauriston

                              Just based on the pictures I've seen, I'll not be going, but not warming slices? Wow.

                                1. re: ernie in berkeley

                                  Same here. Every slice went into the oven.

                            2. Knowing that a Grandma slice is optimal when straight out of the oven, I passed on a reheated slice before a movie tonight and returned after. No luck with a fresh pie after the movie, so I settled on a reheated slice. They call it the "Margarita Sicilian."

                              Despite growing up in different parts of the country (Long Island and Chicago), my friend and my first thoughts were identical: elementary school pizza. Dry crust, more reminiscent of croutons than pizza, and stiff shreds of unmelted cheese that yanked right off the top of the slice. Sauce wasn't bad.

                               
                               
                              1. I liked it better the second time.

                                I had some issues with the crust on my first visit. This time the crust on the meatball slice was good. I think many pizza snobs (used non-pejoratively) would find the crust too thick, but I liked the texture this time around.

                                Sauce was a little sweeter than I like, but good. The sliced meatball was the best thing about the slice.

                                I always feel a little guilty criticizing a place so close to its opening as I did. Artichoke has redeemed itself in my eyes.

                                I still don't think it competes with the best of the Bay, but it's now my go-to for a slice when walking around Cal.