Cousins Sal Basille and Francis Garcia recently came to our neighborhood, quickly adding one of the most irresistible pizza destinations in the area. Artichoke Basille’s Pizza (59 5th Avenue, between St Marks Avenue and Bergen Street) opened in August. It’s their first Brooklyn outpost of their six pizza places in New York City.
Basille and Garcia are good New York folk — they are talented, they have fun doing what they do, and they crack wise while doing it. They’re bringing that same spirit to Pizza Masters, a show about their culinary adventures.
Pizza Masters began its second season on The Cooking Channel a few weeks back, and you should do some catch-up if you missed the first two episodes. You can pick up with the third episode next Wednesday, October 7 (9pm ET and 6pm PT). The season is still early, and they have eight more to go.
Basille and Garcia are family — but they’re also best friends. They play off each other well during their adventures which take them throughout the country — from Providence to New Orleans to Juno, Alaska.
We had a chance to catch up with Basille and Garcia to hear about their adventures throughout the country, and check in about how they’ve been doing since they opened in Brooklyn.
Park Slope Stoop: It’s clear you are close friends — there’s a chemistry between the two of you. Does being close with the people that you cook with make food taste better?
Francis Garcia: I think it helps when people are close. Here’s a perfect example. We were up in Providence filming at a pizza place called Al Forno. It’s run by a husband and wife [Johanne Killeen and George Germon] who have owned the place for something like 30 years. They are so in love and they work side by side everyday. They’re happy — and you can definitely taste the love in their food.
Is the show just about pizza?
FG: No, we eat a lot of different things. We try the foods in different cities that they’re known for. Cuban sandwiches, confections, everything.
You traveled to a lot of cities. What was one of your favorites?
FG: Well we’d never been to New Orleans before. It was incredible. It’s really the best food I’ve had. We were at this amazing pizza place called Slice. We went everywhere — Domilise’s for po’boys, Little Gem Saloon for jazz and crawfish cheesecake.
A lot of locals had this accent, it was almost familiar. What is that?
It’s the “yat” accent.
FG: Yeah, they sounded like guys I grew up with.
We also ate oysters off the hood of this guy’s truck on Frenchman Street. Oysters, grated cheese, creole spice.
It’s New Orleans — anything strange happen to you?
FG: Sal, you have to tell him the Bloody Mary story.
Sal Basille: Bloody Mary is this lady who does voodoo. She had an interesting set-up there. I really didn’t know much about it, but it helped me out. She made me these gris-gris bags.
What’s the difference between making pizza in an urban environment like New York or New Orleans from making pizza in Alaska?
FG: Yeah, in Juno, there weren’t a lot of people. Pizza takes time to make. So the product just doesn’t move as fast. But it was good.
What city surprised you the most?
FG: Every city surprised us in some way. But St. Louis was really interesting. I had this picture in my head of it being down in the dumps. But it was beautiful. The homes were beautiful. The Hill — which is The Little Italy section — was incredible. The old restaurants, the pork stores. All of it.
Ok, one question about Artichoke Pizza. When we spoke back in August, you mentioned you were creating a slice specific to Brooklyn that you were going to only sell here. What’s going on with that?
FG: I know, I know, we’ve been so busy. I’m definitely experimenting with a few different ones. It’s been crazy around here. But it’s coming. I promise!
Pizza Masters airs Wednesday nights on The Cooking Channel (9pm ET / 6pm PT). The next episode airs Wednesday, October 7.