Few things are more contested in Manhattan than king of the slice. Artichoke is one of the newest offerings, located in the East Village just directly east of Union Square on East 14th Street between 1st and 2nd Avenue.
There can be quite a wait for piza, which often depends on luck of the draw as well as whether they happen to be super backlogged with those already waiting for their slices. If you are expecting a clear menu of options, be forewarned there’s nothing of the sort here (although I have heard rumblings that should be changing). In the meantime, the cashier will recite the three types of pizza offered – their eponymous artichoke offering, Sicilian slices, or Neapolitan. They also had baked artichokes, cannoli, and complimentary warm bread. They also occasionally have pasta and offer sandwiches, but no such luck when I went.
I opted to try one of the artichoke slices (which consisted of lots of cheese, artichokes, and spinach), and one of the Sicilian. I was told it would be a while, so I had them tack on a cannoli ($1.50) and a complimentary slice of bread. The bread was so fresh – just the right touch of yeastiness. I was impressed it was warm, since it was just sitting on the countertop. (Note: you have to ask– they won’t necessarily offer!)
When the pizza came out, it was survival of the hungriest to scramble and claim the available slices. There are no seats inside and no benches nearby, so I will own up to eating (and yes, eventually wearing) my warm slices at a bus stop around the corner. The artichoke slice was definitely my favorite. Different from other slices I’ve eaten in the past, this one had many distinct flavors. The spinach provided the perfect compliment to the rich cheese and moist artichokes. The sauce was more of an alfredo base (no tomato sauce on this one). This slice dwarfed my Sicilian slice, which looked like a child’s portion alongside the other. I will warn that I recommend a big tall glass of water with the artichoke slice, as the sodium must be through the roof. I was drinking water all night long as a result.
The Sicilian was more of a standard offering. The tomato sauce was basic and I found it begging for red pepper flakes to jazz it up. The crust was too crunchy and thick for my taste. Not bad, but that specific slice was nothing to warrant eating at the bus stop again.
Overall, Artichoke is worth checking out. I would recommend waiting for a warm day and going with a tall bottle of water, about 5 good sized napkins, and one slice of their artichoke pizza. If nothing else, you can see how it’d stack it up versus the other more “traditional” Manhattan offerings. I’m not going to make it a regular stop or wait in a ridiculously long line, but it’s not half-bad.