4 Minutes of Pizza: Artichoke Basille’s Major Expansion

Weather-wise, it’s such a lovely day. Without getting in too deep with excuses, let’s just say that my recorder got wiped, and since there’s no crying at BlackBook, we will press on. On the way home to Brooklyn, after my nightly stop at 16 Handles, I walked past the crowds at Artichoke Pizza. I’d never stopped in before, and I didn’t understand the fuss until the first bite. With a new joint just opened on McDougal Street, this brand is about to get real serious. A strategic partnership with Noah Tepperberg and Jason Stauss’s Strategic Group will take everybody’s favorite slice to the four corners of the earth. Unfortunately, my interview was cut after 4 minutes, but, on the other hand, owners Francis Garcia and Sal Pisile let their pizza do the talking. Noah spoke of plans to roll it out and stay true to the old school family traditions that you enjoy with every bite.

The juxtaposition of the 17th Street spot near the major nightspots Avenue and 1Oak has club moguls and celebrities waiting in line with the masses. Some don’t like it, but they like the pizza more, and so they are there. Despite what we night owls think, they thrive during the day—especially on 17th Street, where the Highliners are just eating it up. Unlike the 14th Street entry, the full service restaurant on 17th is a decidedly sit-down affair. I had my slice, and since then, I haven’t been the same: breaking recorders, forgetting peoples’ names. The décor is fabulous, with Red Rock West left over from the previous tenant hanging amongst the images of people they love, from Elvis to Marilyn to JFK. Here’s the 4 minutes before the recorder disaster.

Francis: We have cauliflower fritters—you want a hero? Might take a little while. Stuffed artichokes, you want to take a picture of anything, before we tear it apart? Sal: Let him have his first artichoke moment.

Steve: That’s really good. That’s very different than I expected. Okay, that was my first Artichoke moment. I’m with Noah Tepperberg. So I am sitting at the new Artichoke Pizza on 17th Street and 10th Avenue, between Avenue and 1Oak. It’s a great location, you guys are killing it. I am the last person in New York to have an artichoke pizza and it’s really amazing. Tell me, how did you start?

Francis: About four years ago in my mother’s restaurant in Staten Island— it was called Pisile’s restaurant, I was there for 22 years—I started making the artichoke pie. All the customers that came in would get a basket of bread when they sat down. I would cut up half a slice and let everybody sample it. So people would eat it and they would come literally running down the stairs and they’d say, “Oh my God, what is this?” And I started selling—I couldn’t make them fast enough. So I told my mother, I says, “Ma, in Manhattan I could give it to more people in a week than we can in Staten Island in six months.”

Steve: Because people in Manhattan are open to new ideas? Or traffic? Francis: No, just because there are so many more people. It’s a totally different animal. Staten Island foot traffic, you might get 10 people in an hour that walk past our store on Forest Avenue. Whereas, on 14th Street, in 5 minutes you have a couple hundred people that walk by, literally. So we found a small space, me and my cousin, we sat outside of it with our clicker to count the people that walk by, and we built it. We built it ourselves.

Steve: Well I live in Williamsburg now so I take the L train home every night, and on the way home my girlfriend and I, we stop at 16 Handles, and I walk past the incredible lines outside. I guess this is an expansion here, having the strategic partner in Noah Tepperberg, who is sitting right here, this is the second of many locations. So you’re poised for Vegas? The world?

That’s where my recorder died, and I’ll get back to them soon with a more in-depth story. Some people around the office think it’s just an excuse to go back for more. My lips are not sealed.

Yesterday, I ripped into new club entry Studio 21 pretty badly. That was before my friend Redd Styless stepped up and claimed responsibility for it. Redd is a nice guy in a club world filled with crocodiles. He is also a seasoned veteran and has high hopes of making SXX1 a hit. I asked him to send me some current info about what they’re doing over there and he responded as follows:

“Here is some information about Studio XXI. Thank you for calling me back and talking to me about things today. We are in no way trying to replicate Studio 54, it is something that cannot, nor will ever, be duplicated. I understand your sentiments towards 54, and that it holds a very special place in ALL of nightlife. The concept of the venue is an old recording studio, and it’s located on 21st, so that’s where the name came from. Below there is more information. Thanks and look forward to seeing you soon.”

STUDIO XXI New York, NY (December 2010) – Studio XXI, which is set to debut December 2010, is modeled after a classic recording studio and will unify distinctive elements – sound proof studio foam on the walls and ceiling, a DJ booth with performance and recording capabilities and a custom back-lit bar displaying illuminated music levels- with the opulence and sophistication of New York City’s upscale nightlife. Studio XXI will offer patrons a multi-faceted venue where they can enjoy an exclusive yet comfortable atmosphere. Located in the iconic Chelsea neighborhood, the second-floor, intimate hideaway is encompassed by plush banquette seating, beautiful antique mirrors, exposed brick walls, deep chestnut wood floors and large windows that flood the space with the lights and energy of 6th Avenue. One of the highlights of the space is the lighting installation in the center of the lounge which includes a series of chandeliers created to mimic recording discs. The thoughtfully designed interior utilizes a mixture of warm woods, soft natural materials, and rich tones contrasted with clean modern lines. Drawing on its name, Studio XXI is outfitted with full AV support available in house including a premium sound system, high definition interactive projector and an elevated VIP area towards the back of the venue that will also serve as a live performance stage. Studio XXI is the latest nightlife and hospitality venture from Michael Gizaw, known by his promotional name Mickey Dread, who brings over 20 years experience in marketing, promotion and talent recruitment for nightclubs, lounges and concert venues ranging from S.O.B.’s to Irving Plaza. He’s enlisted nightlife impresario Redd Stylez, who has produced and developed high profile events for companies including Maxim, Absolut Vodka and Heineken and has been involved with the openings and brand management of lounges and clubs including Cain, The Gates, Home and Guest House, to serve as the managing director for the venue. Stephan Seguin, formerly at Mokai (Miami), Pink Elephant andThe Griffin, will be handling the door. Studio XXI is located at 59 W 21st St (@6th Ave). Open Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, the venue will feature an exciting music program with a roster of celebrity DJs and a unique lineup of events, premieres and launches. For more information please visit www.studioxxinyc.com.

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