After finding success with his high-end restaurants in New York and California, Ron Marino wasn’t necessarily interested in franchises.
When he tried Artichoke Basille’s Pizza, he changed his mind. This pizza was on another level.
Last month, he and Keith Bolognese opened their first franchise in Tempe, bringing New York pizza—with slices “as big as your face”—to the Valley.
“There’s no pizza out here like it,” Bolognese says.
“They are so specific about every little nuance, from the cheese to the type of pepperoni, to the ingredients in our homemade meatballs,” Marino says.
Artichoke Basille’s Pizza is known for its spinach artichoke pizza ($25), but other creative dishes include crab pizza with a lobster sauce ($25) and a burnt anchovy pizza ($21). The restaurant features classic pies as well, such as the margherita ($21) and pepperoni ($23).
The restaurant’s staff keeps the recipes under wraps.
“If we told you the secrets, we’d have to kill you, OK,” Bolognese says. He did give up that Artichoke Basille’s Pizza works with the best products and distributors.
Bolognese and Marino met in a Los Angeles golf club and immediately began scheming restaurant plans. Artichoke Basille’s Pizza was a natural consideration, as Bolognese grew up with the franchise’s founders, Francis Garcia and Sal Basille. The first Artichoke Basille’s Pizza was in a 350-square-foot space in New York City.
“We have actually had engagement photos and wedding pictures taken in our original Artichoke, because they were two NYU students who exchanged numbers,” says Brandon Linker, Artichoke Basille’s Pizza Company’s senior vice president of operations.
Linker says there is always something cool going on in the restaurants, which are peppered throughout the East and West coasts.
“We are just excited to bring the pizza to Tempe,” Linker says.
Near Alamo Drafthouse, the Tempe Artichoke is the largest store.
“We are really excited to expand to the Valley,” says Marino, who wants five to seven in the Valley. A second one will open soon in the North Valley.
Opening the Tempe store during a pandemic wasn’t exactly idea. It hit when the two were in the middle of construction.
“The world changed overnight,” Marino said.
Marino, who previously opened eight restaurants, says this process has been “interesting,” but he’s up for the challenge.
“I don’t think anyone could prepare for what’s going on,” Marino says. “We have had to overcome so many different things that have happened, that if we didn’t learn how to adapt and survive the industry would die.”
Artichoke Basille’s Pizza
1120 E. Baseline Road, Tempe