Okay, I’m way behind on some of these posts. This happened over a month ago. I’d been hearing a lot about the new pizzeria, Veloce, and as I’m a bit of a pizza junkie I knew I wanted to try it out. Then Frank Bruni wrote about it in his pizza round-up, and New York Magazine called it one of the 20 best pizzas in NYC. I set out to go, then realized that Veloce was only a few blocks away from another pizzeria I’d been meaning to try, Artichoke. That’s when the idea entered my mind to visit both. On the same day. One right after the other.
I started at Veloce, where my server informed me that they were sold out of the mushroom pizza, the one that Bruni had singled out in his article. That was fine with me, as I was planning on getting the margherita ($15) anyway. The square pie came out pretty quickly, and it was bigger than I expected it to be, and cut into four generous pieces.
It’s not just the shape of the pies that make Veloce’s pizza unique. They reportedly use potato in the dough, though I’m not quite sure what it adds. I can say that the edges of the pizza were beautifully crisp; it’s not charred like most of my favorite pizzas, but crunchy and almost caramelized. Also caramelized at the edges is the tomato sauce, which seemed to be based mostly on tomato paste. In other words, everything about this pizza was different than the Neapolitan style that I love, but it was delicious. I ended up eating the whole pie, even knowing where I was heading next.
Artichoke is known just as much for its lines as the pizza. The day of my visit was no exception — I was about five people back, though the line seemed to move quickly. Until I got up to the window, that is, when the cashier decided to hand off the register to the guy who was making the pizzas, forcing him to do double duty. I eventually placed me order, but only after the original cashier got into an argument with another customer about what she’d ordered. I ordered a Sicilian slice ($3.50) to stay, and an artichoke slice ($4) to go.
After a short wait I got my pizza. Long story short it wasn’t great. Too much sauce, and way too crunchy, as is the norm. Or, as one of the colorful countermen put it to another customer who asked about the blackened crust, “they’re ALL like that.”
As for the artichoke slice… well, you may remember that Donny liked it, but I wasn’t a big fan. I like spinach-artichoke dip, but it’s not what I want when I want pizza. Donny has since suggested that I try it while drunk.
So back to the square pizzas. It may not be fair to compare the pizza at a sit-down restaurant to the pizza at a takeaway slice place, but I’ve heard way more about Artichoke than about Veloce so I wanted to see what the hype was about. No question about it, Veloce was the clear winner. I’d skip the long line and inconvenient outdoor seating at Artichoke and walk a few blocks south for the bigger, though more expensive, meal every time.
Veloce — 103 First Avenue
Artichoke Basilles — 328 E 14th St