The artichoke alla giudia at Da Marco is the best artichoke dish in Houston. Every time I order it, I am amazed all over again. The stem-up presentation makes the vegetable look like a sunflower that's been inverted on your plate. The heart-meat is nutty, and the outer leaves are amazingly chewy and crisp. The little lemon supremes that balance on top of the heart are stunning. The dish is a bargain at $8, and you can also include it as one of the choices on Da Marco's $29 three-course business lunch.
Carciofi alla giudìa, as the dish is known in Italy, means "Jewish-style artichokes"—the preparation orginated in the Jewish ghetto of Rome. With a sharp knife, the hard leaves and the choke are removed. The rest of the artichoke is beaten to open it up, then soaked in water with lemon juice. Finally it is seasoned with salt and pepper and deep-fried in olive oil.
You can find a similar recipe using baby artichokes in the excellent cookbook, The Classic Cuisine of the Italian Jews.