BY BRADLEY HAWKS
With a pizzeria on every few blocks, how do you know where to get the perfect slice? One test is longevity. If a pizzeria has stood the test of time, it’s probably a pretty safe bet. Another marker of success is if the pizza quality is worthy of expansion into new neighborhoods and locations.
22-56 31st St. has been home to a pizzeria for 50 years, so when longtime tenant Frankie’s Pizza folded up shop, it only seemed appropriate for another pizza-maker to take over the address.
There was certainly a fair amount of celebration when it was announced that the next occupant would be the maker of one of Manhattan’s most celebrated pies — Artichoke Basille’s — which opened its first pizza spot on 14th Street in 2008.
Astoria marks the company’s second location in Queens, with the first at LaGuardia Airport. Tucked just behind the stairway to the elevated train at the Ditmars Station, the renovated space is home to Artichoke Basille’s most popular pies and slices, as well as a selection of salads and “not pizza” items, as well as a variety of beer and wine.
Whole pizzas run around $30, with slices priced around $4.50, but the thickness and crunch of the crust, size of the pie, and abundance of premium-quality toppings stand in defense of the higher prices.
Their namesake pizza is piled with plump, tender artichoke hearts, spinach, lumps of mozzarella, a velvety cream sauce and pecorino romano cheese. The result is like eating a slice of crisp garlic toast topped with a decadent spinach artichoke dip, all crusted with bubbling mozzarella.
Another popular pie is slathered with a rosé crab sauce, fresh mozzarella, and panko breaded surimi crab meat (which is just a fancy way of saying artificial crab meat).
With the exception of the anchovy pie, each version is available as a whole pizza or by the slice. Be warned that they certainly aren’t worried by sodium or calories, as the pizza can lean on the salty side, and boasts a remarkably high calorie count. Delivery also leaves a little to be desired.
On three separate occasions, the pizza arrived with the toppings slid into one corner and the crust folded onto itself. That having been said, we still kept ordering it for delivery.
The dine-in experience was much more pleasant, with friendly counter service and ample seating space. I imagine for those in a rush headed to the subway, and those craving a quick bite on the way home from work, this location will do a pretty good business. And I will certainly attempt ordering delivery again, once they have been open a bit longer and settled into a comfortable rhythm. For now, I will simply have to head to the store when I want a slice.
Artichoke Basille’s Pizza
22-56 31st St., Astoria
Delivery seven days a week, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.