The ‘Pizza Masters’ Share Slices and Secrets from Season 2 (PHOTOS)

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Tonight (Sept. 23), Sal Basille (left) and Francis Garcia kick off Season 2 of Cooking Channel’s Pizza Masters, the series where the best friends/cousins/business owners/pizza aficionados travel across the country eating the best pies they can find. We visited the duo at their original establishment, Artichoke Pizza in New York's East Village, to grab a slice and chat about what’s to come in their sophomore season. Click through the gallery to learn more about the restaurant's hidden secrets and and get your stomach growling.


Artichoke Pizza arrived in the East Village in 2008, and since then has collected an eclectic array of decorations, including a replica of the leg lamp from A Christmas Story.


They've also got paintings of stars like Elvis and comedian/actor Eddie Murphy. Why, might you ask? "Elvis is the king, and I love Eddie Murphy," Basille says. The Eddie artwork is a hot ticket item: Garcia told us the highest offer they've ever received for it (though it's not actually for sale) was $2,500. "We got that out of [my buddy's] Yale frat house," Garcia explains. "People have tried to steal it twice."


Their family holds five generations of chefs and restaurant owners. Born in Staten Island, the two started out as youngsters shucking clams in their grandfather's establishment.


While Artichoke was Garcia and Basille's first joint venture, Garcia got an early start in the biz. "I opened my first restaurant when I was 23," he says. "I sold it in a year ... I was a kid and it seemed like a lot of money. In the meantime, I should have kept it because it was a pretty good restaurant. Instead, I bought a boat. It sunk."


The two Staten Islanders used to live across the street from the restaurant we visited, "I lived above [Fran], but I moved out because I have a family now," Basille says. "So he would knock on my door with things in the middle of the night. I’d yell down to him, or he’d yell up to me." Garcia would even intercept his cousin's takeout some nights, but Basille assured us that, "I used to get him back."


Hijinks and pranks aside, Season 2 of Pizza Masters is going to be a little wild. First stop? The beautifully sunny Miami, which was Garcia's favorite trip of the 10-episode season. The duo had a grand old time on the golf course. "We’re whipping around in this golf cart ... you’re not supposed to drive on the driving range, so we have golf balls coming at us and you can’t see the sand traps and I went over one. It was wet because it was raining earlier and I had no time to stop. We were going so fast that we actually cleared it and landed."


They also made a stop in Montana where Garcia and Basille herded cattle. "Back at the house we were eating steak and I was like, ‘Woah, where’d you get this steak? You’re miles from the nearest store. It’s so fresh,'" Garcia says. "I had forgotten that we had delivered the cows ourselves."


Season 2 will see the pair visiting San Francisco, St. Louis and Chicago (which houses Garcia's least favorite kind of pizza), eating grilled oysters in New Orleans, treasure-hunting in Key West and adventuring in a seaplane in Juno.


In addition to Season 2 of Pizza Masters, the two released a cookbook, Staten Italy, in April and now own six restaurants. "We grew up together really close," Garcia says. "We used to save our money together when we were little kids. And we compliment each other. [Sal's] a lot more calm cool and collected than me. I’ll let him handle things when I want to rip somebody's head off."

Season 2 of Pizza Masters on Wednesdays at 9/8c on Cooking Channel.

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