At Avenue owner Noah Tepperberg’s raucous b-day bash, our man with the carrot stick enters the heart of the new Artichoke West. Not bean? By all means, go.
By Chris “Balls McGee” Wilson
So last night I stopped by the totally top secret, super-duper “soft” opening of Artichoke West, the buzzy new pizza parlor run by club kingpins Noah Tepperberg and Jason Strauss.
The original Artichoke on First Avenue, in the East Village, has garnered well-deserved food-blog fandom for serving unctuous, artichoke-and-cheese-smothered slices. Lines nightly snake around First Avenue.
So it’s a no-brainer that Tepperberg and Strauss, the models-n’-bottles masterminds behind Marquee, Avenue, and Tao in Las Vegas (the most profitable bar in America, if you must know), swooped in and launched a satellite next to their flagship party palace Avenue on West 17th Street.
Brick walls, a marble bar, and those ever-present filament bulbs were the backdrop to a drunkard’s delight buffet of marinara-soaked meatballs, sausage-and-broccoli rabe, and, the star of the show, artichoke fritters that looked like softshell crabs and were reminiscent of a deep-fried version of Artichoke’s signature slice.
Sadly, the pizza oven wasn’t turned on yet so we were denied the boner-inducing epiphany of Artichoke’s legendary belly bombs. The crowd was a heady mix of gorgeous cat-walkers in potentially vagina-exposing mini-dresses, who appeared to be fresh off a gazillionaire sponsor’s sun-baked yacht in Sardinia, and fabulously wealthy playboys in fitted, un-tucked button-downs. Boy, did I feel out of place in my skin-tight, gold lame’ jumpsuit!
Afterwards, we all went next door to Avenue, where birthday boy Tepperberg’s table, (he turned 35 last night) was swarmed like the Popemoblile during a slow-speed cruise through the streets of Rome. Tepperberg schmoozed with a gaggle of Amazonian exes, whose adoration belied his modest, CPA-in-sneakers looks, and glad-handed the likes of future gubernatorial brother Chris Cuomo, ketchup heir Chris Heinz, and probably a lot of famous people that I didn’t see because it was so insanely crowded.
BATTER UP!: Noah’s ark, one fine birthday of recent.
This reporter was unsurprised, when, after buying $13 Budweisers for a beguiling Megan Fox-lookalike, she revealed herself to be an ex-Tepperberg paramour from back in the day. Hey, the dude has personality!
The final moments of the night involved me woozily handing out balloons to various beautiful creatures during the maddeningly inescapable “California Gurls” by Katy Perry, and getting a bit of guff from one of the bartenders for signing my credit card receipts, “Balls McGee.”.(It seems that at Avenue, in addition to paying an automatic 20 percent tip, you must print your name above your signature, like at a hotel. I figured that for 13 bucks a Bud, I earned the right to amuse myself.)
I hereby prophesize that the after-hours hordes will be swarming Artichoke West like maggots on raw meat—they’ll be serving food ’til 6 a.m, when they open in a few weeks.—-and if you’re around Tenth Avenue in those insatiable hours, it’s infinitely better than destroying a dried-out cheeseburger at a diner.
As for that Megan Fox doppelganger, you’re goddamn right I got her number. But insofar as my old friend Noah having tread her heavenly waters, I offer one, heartfelt sentiment: Keep the pain coming, God!