When I lived in New York in my mid-twenties, I used to go Nowhere on 14th Street all the time because it's one of the last seedy gay bars in Manhattan. After many a night of weapons-grade inebriation, I would go next door to Artichoke Pizza for one of its eponymous slices: a massive wedge of crust slathered in so much cheesy goodness that it was basically just artichoke dip. The idea was to stave off a hangover in the most delicious way possible, but sometimes it just made me fall asleep on the L train and I would wake up confused at Broadway Junction.
Artichoke -- technically, Artichoke Basille's, but nobody calls it that -- has now opened a location in Berkeley, open until 2 a.m., and it can't be recommended strongly enough. Well, one caveat -- it's just off campus, and the ocean of undergrads might not be a universal crowd-pleaser. Okay, and that artichoke topping gets ladled onto each pie out of five-gallon buckets you can buy at Ace Hardware, which is slightly unappetizing to behold. But that said, this was exactly as delicious as I remembered it, minus the intolerable humidity.
Let's be straight here. Local mini-chain though Artichoke might be, it's not pretending to be The Authentic New York Pizza. It's just amazing and gooey and one slice is enough for anybody and there's really no point in ordering a different kind until you try the artichoke first. Plus, at $4.50, it's only about 35 cents more than the generic stuff around the corner. The days when you could legitimately argue that "Pizza in California seriously sucks" are officially over.
Artichoke Basille's Pizza, 2590 Durant Ave., (510) 705-1266.