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Sweet Willie

Pizzeria Bianco (Phoenix)

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I had just arrived into Phoenix at 3:45pm on a Saturday, a buddy called my cell, stated he was leaving Phoenix later that evening and asked if I would like to dine on the best pizza he has ever had.

I did question him, the “best” pizza, in Phoenix or ever?

“Ever” was his immediate response.

OK, I’ll bite (no pun intended).

We show up just after 4:30, there is a security guard that asks us if we are here for Pizzaria Bianco as we enter the small parking lot adjacent to the Pizzaria. This place opens at 5 and yet there is a security guard for the parking lot, must be a popular place.

As we approach the front of the restaurant, there are some chairs already filled with patrons for this 24 seat (approx guess) restaurant. We spy a menu posted on the door and proceed to walk up to the door to read it. At that point all the others who were sitting, now get up and que up behind us. Jesus, 20 minutes before it opens and we started the “not before me” reflex. :wacko:

Promptly at 5 the door is opened and the whole line that had formed is seated in less than 5 minutes. So at 5:10pm, place is packed and they are informing those oh so tardy people that there is an hour wait at this point.

We take a seat at the bar and order a local brew they have on tap. They have a seemingly very small but good wine selection as the group of men that sat next to us could not stop discussing.

Onto the pizza. I order the Sonny Boy and buddy orders the Wiseguy.

Sonny Boy consists of Tomato Sauce, Fresh Mozzarella, Salami, Calamatta Olives.

Wiseguy consists of Wood Roasted Onions, House Smoked Mozzarella, Fennel Sausage.

I believe we are the first to order and our individual 12” pizzas took 20 minutes.

Picture a very thin, crispy, approaching saltine cracker bottom just a slight chew above it, with some of the most premier pizza ingrediants you have ever dined on. The pizzas were both incredible, easy to see why my buddy claimed that this place was his best ever pizza. I’m not willing to go that far, but they were easily in my top three, easily………..ok maybe even in my top two. :wub:

Service is professional and quick.

Do Not Miss Pizzaria Bianco!!! Due to the volume of pizzas they do, Pizzaria Bianco does not allow take out orders on Saturdays, but do during the weekdays. However this is the type of pizza that does not travel well at all, the quality will suffer if you try to transport it.

Pizzaria Bianco

Historic Heritage Square

623 East Adams Street (enter off of 7th)

Phoenix, AZ

602.258.8300

edited to add: Chef Chris Bianco won the 2003 Southwest James Beard award.


Edited by Sweet Willie (log)

"I did absolutely nothing and it was everything I thought it could be"

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I've long said that Pizzeria Bianco is one of my favorite restaurants in the country. The quality of his ingredients puts most New York restaurants to shame. Desserts are often lacking, though.

IML


"Get yourself in trouble."

--Chuck Close

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I was down there last year doing a show and I dragged some of the cast over to PB. We also went before they opened about 4:30 (in 117 degree heat) even so we, waited an hour and finally had to get back to the theatre for our call. Next time I'll get it to go. I was in the New Haven area in January. There are some serious contenders for " Best Ever"in that part of the country. My vote goes to Roseland Apizza in Derby CT.

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so tell me, how is the pizza cooked? from your description I'd guess a wood fired oven. ??


Born Free, Now Expensive

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Just back from Phoenix and I wish I'd read Peter Reinhart's American Pie before my return. If I had there is no way I would have missed this place. :sad: It's not that don't trust the opinions here, there just weren't enough of them on this thread to push me to try it out. Reinhart speaks so glowingly of the place that I'm downright pissed I missed it :angry:

=R=


"Hey, hey, careful man! There's a beverage here!" --The Dude, The Big Lebowski

LTHForum.com -- The definitive Chicago-based culinary chat site

ronnie_suburban 'at' yahoo.com

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Sweet Willie, what are your other top 2 pizza places?


I love cold Dinty Moore beef stew. It is like dog food! And I am like a dog.

--NeroW

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Just back from Phoenix and I wish I'd read Peter Reinhart's American Pie before my return.  If I had there is no way I would have missed this place. :sad:  It's not that don't trust the opinions here, there just weren't enough of them on this thread to push me to try it out.  Reinhart speaks so glowingly of the place that I'm downright pissed I missed it :angry:

=R=

I'm sorry to hear that. The Phoenix contingent here is very small, so getting two or three people raving about a place is often times a majority.

I will add my most recent raves about the place. Went a few weeks ago with some folks from a different forum, we ordered all of the pizzas (except the cheeseless tomato one) plus an antipasto platter and spiedini (prosciutto wrapped around fontina cheese on a skewer and baked). The Wiseguy (salami and olive) and the arugula pizza were particularly good that evening. The spiedini wasn't quite as amazing as it has been in the past (when the cheese is just melty, it's amazing) but still good. The antipasto plate was filled with wonderful perfectly-cooked veggies as usual, plus a terrific spicy broccoli gratin. Dessert was a blood orange Italian ice that was the perfect balance between sweet and tart.

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Hi Southwesterners.

I recently discovered Pizzeria Bianco in Peter Reinhart's American Pie. Reinhart mentions that Chris Bianco teaches pizza making classes. Has anyone out there tried one of his classes?

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Just back from Phoenix and I wish I'd read Peter Reinhart's American Pie before my return.  If I had there is no way I would have missed this place. :sad:  It's not that don't trust the opinions here, there just weren't enough of them on this thread to push me to try it out.  Reinhart speaks so glowingly of the place that I'm downright pissed I missed it :angry:

=R=

I'm sorry to hear that. The Phoenix contingent here is very small, so getting two or three people raving about a place is often times a majority.

I will add my most recent raves about the place. Went a few weeks ago with some folks from a different forum, we ordered all of the pizzas (except the cheeseless tomato one) plus an antipasto platter and spiedini (prosciutto wrapped around fontina cheese on a skewer and baked). The Wiseguy (salami and olive) and the arugula pizza were particularly good that evening. The spiedini wasn't quite as amazing as it has been in the past (when the cheese is just melty, it's amazing) but still good. The antipasto plate was filled with wonderful perfectly-cooked veggies as usual, plus a terrific spicy broccoli gratin. Dessert was a blood orange Italian ice that was the perfect balance between sweet and tart.

Yeah, I'm beginning to understand that there are a relatively low number of Phoenix area posters here and I should have taken that into account. But also, if I'd bothered to notice it was my friend and fellow heartlander Sweet Willie, who opened this thread, that would have been enough for me to give it a whirl since I often agree with his assessments of places. I was literally on the plane leaving Phoenix when I read the opening chapter of Reinhart's American Pie which pretty much pegs Bianco as the standard by which he will measure all the other pizzas he "hunts" in the book. "Turn this plane around right now!" :biggrin:

And I'm still kicking myself over missing this. I may have to go back to spring training next year just to settle this unresolved issue. :biggrin:

Thanks, creepygirl, for taking the time to post about your experiences there. It's very much appreciated. :smile:

=R=


"Hey, hey, careful man! There's a beverage here!" --The Dude, The Big Lebowski

LTHForum.com -- The definitive Chicago-based culinary chat site

ronnie_suburban 'at' yahoo.com

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Well, how about that? I'll be out in Phoenix visiting the family at the end of April and it sounds like I need to hit this place hard! I've never even heard of it...how long has it been around?

K


Basil endive parmesan shrimp live

Lobster hamster worchester muenster

Caviar radicchio snow pea scampi

Roquefort meat squirt blue beef red alert

Pork hocs side flank cantaloupe sheep shanks

Provolone flatbread goat's head soup

Gruyere cheese angelhair please

And a vichyssoise and a cabbage and a crawfish claws.

--"Johnny Saucep'n," by Moxy Früvous

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What does dinner at place like this run (pizza, drinks, desserts, or all together)? Do you need really deep pockets to dine there?

THANKS!

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Their pizza is very good- but coming from the New York/ Northern New Jersey area their are many places around here that are just as good or better than Pizzaria Bianco.

I waited 1-1/2 hours the first and last time I went there and it was not worth the wait when I could get pizza as good around home without any wait for a table. It is certainly not the best pizza in the country. I think the problem is that most of the country does not have good pizza so when people try a good pizza for the first time they are suprised at how good it tastes. This is like comparing a McDonald's Big Mac to a really good 100% sirlon burger cooked perfectly rare at a good pub/steakhouse place- simply no comparision. It's easy to blow away Pizza Hut/ Domino's/crummy mom and pop places by just putting in a little effort to get better ingredients and cook the crust so it is not just like regular soggy taste-less bread.


GoodEater

Vivo per mangiare!

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I just finished Jeffrey Steingarten's latest essay in the Sept Vogue. He proclaims Chris Bianco's pizza as the best pizza in the world. Now I'm curious, in spite of the mixed reviews here. Should I make a trip out to Phx just for the pizza?

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I just finished Jeffrey Steingarten's latest essay in the Sept Vogue. He proclaims Chris Bianco's pizza as the best pizza in the world. Now I'm curious, in spite of the mixed reviews here. Should I make a trip out to Phx just for the pizza?

I like the place a lot, but don't think it's worth a trip to Phoenix on its own. Honestly, I enjoy the antipasto plate more than the pizzas.

I'm a little saddened by Steingarten's proclamation. People already have HUGE expectations for the pizza because of the wait time for the restaurant and the hype it received prior to Steingarten's article. It makes it all that much harder for people to enjoy the place on its own merits, rather than in comparison with high expectations.

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As determined by New Yorker Ed Levine in his new book Pizza: A Slice of Heaven, after spending 1 year eating over 1,000 slices of pizza, Phoenix has now beaten out New York for the best pizza in the US, served by Pizzeria Bianco. :raz:

This, of course, made the front page of the Arizona Republic. Read it here.

New Yorkers, is it possible?

In the print version of the article, the 4 of the next top 5 pizzerias are NYC: Pizzeria Napoletana (NY), Di Fara Pizza (Brooklyn), Nick's Pizza (NY), Sally's Apizza (Connecticut), and Totonno's Pizzeria (NY).

Being originally from Chicago, it upsets me that no Chicago pizzerias were mentioned. But I take pride in my new hometown of Phoenix. Go Chris!


...wine can of their wits the wise beguile, make the sage frolic, and the serious smile. --Alexander Pope

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As determined by New Yorker Ed Levine in his new book Pizza:  A Slice of Heaven, after spending 1 year eating over 1,000 slices of pizza, Phoenix has now beaten out New York for the best pizza in the US, served by Pizzeria Bianco.   :raz:

This, of course, made the front page of the Arizona Republic.   Read it here.

New Yorkers, is it possible?

In the print version of the article, the 4 of the next top 5 pizzerias are NYC:  Pizzeria Napoletana (NY), Di Fara Pizza (Brooklyn), Nick's Pizza (NY), Sally's Apizza (Connecticut), and Totonno's Pizzeria (NY).

Being originally from Chicago, it upsets me that no Chicago pizzerias were mentioned.  But I take pride in my new hometown of Phoenix.  Go Chris!

I posted the same opinion about "Pizzeria Bianco" making the best Pizza in my estimation in the United States on June 10, 2004 on the eGullets" NYC Pizza Survey" Posting # 629351. [sorry don't know how to bring it to this page]

I haven't traveled nor tried to eat Pizza at over 1000 places, but I have eaten at all the NYC area places mentioned and even though I feel that there are several nearly as good in Connecticut and Philly and more and more wannabes everywhere the only other place that is maybe even better in the finished products and consistency is located in Portland, Oregon and even though I have only eaten this Pizza after being brought by a friend to Seattle from Portland it's definitely a contender or maybe even better.

I hope to visit Portland soon just to eat at "Apizza Scholls" " and they even make authentic Texas Barbecue called "LOW BBQ" only on Mondays that alone is worth the trip. [Had some cold] The "Apizza Scholls" evolved from the original place called "Scholls Public House" that was closed by the owner to open his "Apizza" and only stays open until they have run out of "Dough" that apparently happens daily. [Just like in Coney Island].

I love Artisan's who have the ability to provide us all with something special.

That something that you can't get combined in NYC or anywhere else.

Irwin :raz::rolleyes:


Edited by wesza (log)

I don't say that I do. But don't let it get around that I don't.

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I was determined to one day visit the French Laundry after reading Ruth Reichl's article about it back in the 90's. The below article had the same effect on me and can only hope it won't take close to ten years like the last. :blink:

http://www.azcentral.com/ent/dining/articles/0620bianco.html

I keep trying to convince myself it's only pizza.


Edited by robert40 (log)

Robert R

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Wow, thread from the dead! I'm eating at Biancos next week.

I would love to hear how it was! Please let us know.


Robert R

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I would love to hear how it was! Please let us know.

Robert,

The reason that Bianco's is so consistently good is that Chris is the only one that makes the pizza-EVERYDAY. He is old-school, an artisan and a fanatic. I have seen him at 7:30 in the morning opening his sandwich shop (Pane Bianco-best in town) after he was flipping pizzas the night before at the Pizzeria. I see him loading up his truck at the Farmers Market picking out the produce that he wants himself. He is totally approachable. The people at the market the last time I was there saw him grabbing McClendon Farm's (farmer to the chefs Bob McClendon)Lemon Cucumbers by the handful and asked him how to use them and he told them how to make a great salad out of them with the various other produce.

gallery_30892_3213_1535007.jpg

Molto E


Eliot Wexler aka "Molto E"

MoltoE@restaurantnoca.com

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This is embarrassing to admit and I can hear the voice of my mother telling me 'Please son don't tell people how crazy you are' But last week I was set on driving to Phoenix just to visit Pizzaria Bianco. After much convincing my wife talked me into Cape Cod instead. I am just fascinated by what I have read about Chris Bianco.

By the way I live in New York. :laugh:


Robert R

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This is embarrassing to admit and I can hear the voice of my mother telling me 'Please son don't tell people how crazy you are' But last week I was set on driving to Phoenix just to visit Pizzaria Bianco. After much convincing my wife talked me into Cape Cod instead. I am just fascinated by what I have read about Chris Bianco.

By the way I live in New York. :laugh:

Robert,

If you drive here then I am buying, but give me notice. If you have a party of 6 or more you can make a reso. After pizza at Bianco's, dessert at Arlecchino Gelateria. This is the best gelato that I have ever had. Anyone that I have brought there wants to make a return visit the next day.

Molto E


Eliot Wexler aka "Molto E"

MoltoE@restaurantnoca.com

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Wow, thread from the dead! I'm eating at Biancos next week.

I would love to hear how it was! Please let us know.

I just finished dinner at Pizzeria Bianco, so if this review is overly positive, and I don't think it is, it is because I'm still high on the food. I'm going to attempt to be complete here, feel free to skim.

Pre-Game

We arrived at Pizzeria Bianco at 4:45pm and there was already about 20 people sitting outside, in 110 degree heat, on a Tuesday. I can't imagine how many are gathered on a saturday evening in the fall. Despite the heat the wait was not all that bad. There is ample seating and by this time in the day there is plenty of shade afforded by the small surrounding trees.

The other relief from the heat is Bar Bianco next door. Bar Bianco opens a 4pm and allows patrons to bring their beer outside while they wait for the pizzeria to open. There are 2 beers on tap at the bar: Four Peak's "Hop Knot" and something called a "Cream Ale". I've had the Four Peaks "Hop Knot" before, at the Four Peaks brewery/restaurant. As you might guess its very hoppy, it is golden in color and has a lot more alcohol than you might expect from it. I was only inside Bar Bianco for a moment since the pizzeria was opening in about 5 minutes. I figured on ordering the Cream Ale once seated.

Around 4:55pm a line began forming. At 5:05pm the door was opened. Pizzeria Bianco only accepts reservations for parties of 6-10 and there was a party of 10 with a reservation right at 5pm. Bianco's is only a 40 odd seat place and this party had consumed 1/4 of it. My guest and I were seated promptly, as was everyone else. The space is small enough that the host does not so much seat you, as generaly describes the area she wishes you to sit in, the rest is up to you.

Once Inside

Upon sitting I took a survey of the restaurant. Towards the front is a small 6-8 seat bar. Directly next to that is the open kitchen with a large cylindrical brick oven. A quick guess says it could hold 3 (MAYBE 4) pies if you're real good at managing them. The kitchen is surrounded by a counter which often sees patrons leaning against it talking to Bianco while he stretches dough.

Back to beer. Unfortunatly the Cream Ale is not available in the pizzeria. The only beer available on tap in Pizzeria Bianco is Four Peaks "Fools Gold", which I've also had before, and quite enjoy. A light gold color with a fruity aroma and a lingering head.

Five or so minutes after being seated our server brought us a small plate of sliced bread and a dish of olive oil. The bread was wonderfully crusty on the outside with a airy, chewy crumb on the inside. A few minutes later we ordered the Antipasto and the Margherita pizza. Now, I'm a firm believer in judging a pizza place on its margherita, however I'd just heard too much about the fennel sausage to pass it up, so I had them add it.

The Main Attraction(s)

The antipasto arrived within 5 or 10 minutes, I wasn't paying much attention to the clock as I was enjoying my beer. The menu has described it as wood roasted vegetables, sopressata and a bite of cheese, and thats exactly what it was, and it was amazing. On the rather generously sized plate were mushrooms, carrots, zuchinni and tomatos, all roasted. Accompanying them were 4 perfectly thin slices of sopressata, a type of dry italian salami, and 2 thick wedges of a cheese that I judged to be Asiago Fresco. But the real star of the plate was the roasted eggplant parmesan. I would happily pay for an entire plate of it. It could possibly be the absolute best eggplant parmesan I've ever had in my life. It melted on the tongue and filled my head with oil and cheese and a seductive roasted flavor that I can't stop thinking about. I'm not sure if its always on there, but ask if it is, and for the love of food, order the Antipasto!

A few minutes later our pizza arrived. Perhaps 13" in diameter with black char markes on the entire crust. Topped minimally with tomato sauce, basil and mozzerella but with a good amount of thick, bias cut fennel sausage. If the sheer fresh taste doesn't immediately grab you, the smokey, crunchy, chewy crust will. The crust is so so good I wish I could order it as a topping. I quickly consumed 2 of the 3 slices that comprised my half of the pie.

However on the third slice I was careful to evaluate the merits of the individual ingredients. The fennel in the sausage is not as apparent when masked by the sauce and cheese, but when removed from the slice and taken in small bites it really come through. I'm not a huge fennel fan, but it was quite good. I believe Bianco sources his sausage from a local place called Schreiner's Fine Sausage. This likely where the salami on the antipasto plate is sourced as well.

The cheese is fresh mozzerella that, rumor has it, Bianco makes himself. Alledgedly the basil is also grown by Bianco for use at the pizzeria as well as Pane Bianco. The sauce I contemplated for some time. As far as I can tell, it is tomatos. Just tomatos. I couldn't find any other flavors in it, no bits of garlic, traces of basil or red pepper, just tomatos.

The bill came to $37 after tax and tip. It included a pint of beer ($3.75) and an iced tea ($1.50) as well as the antipasto ($11) and a pizza margherita ($10) with sausage ($3).

Thats a Wrap

As I left I received a brief "Thank You" from Mr Bianco. When it is said that Christopher Bianco lays a hand on every pizza, it is a gross understatement. I watched him toss out pie after pie. I didn't see a single other person touch the pizza before it entered the oven. There is no man in that kitchen, there exists only a pizza tossing machine with the model name "Bianco", programmed to make the best pizza you'll find outside of Italy.


Edited by fliplap (log)

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fliplap, You have absolutely no idea what you just done! Before reading your report I was about 50% sure I was traveling across the country to visit Pizzeria Bianco this weekend. Now you just raised the likelihood to 75-80%. :laugh:

Great report and thank you.


Robert R

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