My experience at Pizzeria Bianco (long)
Last night I finally had the opportunity to dine at Pizzeria Bianco. After reading countless posts and reviews on it, I was excited. I knew that going there on a Saturday night probably wasn't the best idea, but I was expecting the wait. My two friends and I arrived around 7pm, and the hostess told us it would be a 2 hour and 15 minute wait, which makes sense considering there are only about 10 tables in the whole place. She suggested we visit the bar next door, so we walked over. There were no seats left anywhere, so we decided to walk around the downtown area to kill some time. We went back to the bar after about 45 minutes, and we ordered one of their local beers they have on tap. After finding a seat (which required some serious hovering over people who looked as if they would be leaving soon), we finally sat down. A host/server lady came over to us and asked us the name of our party, which is how they find you to alert you that your table is ready next door. We gave her our name, and then a few minutes later she came back up to us and said there was a problem. Apparently, she goes through the bar every half an hour to check to make sure that everyone on the waiting list for Pizzeria Bianco is in there, and since we weren't there for the first check-in, they had removed our name from the list. By now, it was around 8:15, so we were going to be very angry if we really had to wait any extra amount of time. She told us not to worry, though, and that now that she saw that we were here, she would fit our name right back in and so there wouldn't be an extra wait. Now, I don't really understand why, if she could have done that anyway, why she would have bothered with scaring us into thinking they were going to give our table away...but maybe she was just trying to make the point that we were supposed to stay in the bar next time? If that was the case, the original hostess we encountered probably should have told us that they do checks in the bar so that we wouldn't have to wait any extra time (when she suggested us going to the bar when we arrived, it really sounded like just a suggestion, not an order). Luckily, around 8:45, the bar hostess alerted us that our table was ready (that's a half hour ahead of schedule!), so we were excited to finally eat.
After we sat down, we browsed the short menu and made our selections. I had heard the Antipasto was good, so we ordered that right off the bat. Our server brought us waters and a few minutes later our Antipasto arrived. It was dark in the restaurant, so it was kind of hard seeing what was in the dish. We did manage to detect some sweet corn, bell peppers, potatoes, eggplant, and some cheese. Overall, it was decent, but it just wasn't as tasty as I had anticipated.
We then ordered our pizzas. Both of my friends decided to order Sonny Boys, and one of them decided to add cremini mushrooms to their pie. I wasn't in a meat mood, so I went with the Margherita and also added mushrooms. While we waited, we looked into the area where all the pizzas were being made. Chris Bianco, I noticed, helped in the making of every single pizza that went into that oven. He really puts his heart into these pizzas.
It really wasnt a very long wait between ordering the pizzas and their arrival at our table. Once they arrived, the aroma was intoxicating. I couldn't wait to dive in, but the pizzas had literally JUST come out of the oven so they were too hot to eat right away. After a few very difficult minutes of waiting, we were finally able to dive in.
The first thing I noticed was that the crust had a great consistency. It was chewy, yet thin, and crispy, but not burnt. The cheese was very fresh, and the sauce was good as well. The only thing that wasn't as tasty as I'd hoped were the mushrooms. They practically coated the pizza in at least one layer of them, so they were everywhere. And they were salty. Verrrryy salty. And it wasn't just me who thought so, my friend who ordered mushrooms on his pizza thought so as well, and we both ended up picking the majority of them off. My friends both really enjoyed their pizzas, and they polished them off in no time. I almost finished mine, but I was just too stuffed. The waiter was nice and boxed up my leftovers, though.
Overall, the pizza was good. The pies were around 10 dollars each, which was a decent deal. However, I don't think this is the "Best pizza in the nation" as some have said. I definitely don't think it would be worth waiting 2 hours, but it was an experience. The bar makes the waiting bearable, but I'm not sure I would do this on a regular basis. If you do decide to come here though, make sure that you stay in the bar the entire time so that you don't get removed from the list! As we were leaving, Chris Bianco waved to us and thanked us for coming. He seems to truly love what he is doing, which is why so many people pack this place to the gills every night (except for Sundays and Mondays, when they are closed).
602 258 8300
623 E Adams St.
Phoenix, AZ 85004
IF you ever return, you have to order the Wiseguy. It's the best of his offerings. Best crust around, hands down.
I won't turn this into a "is it worth the wait???" tirade. It is what it is.
It does appear that Chris Bianco does love what he does and is very good at it. I think the place closes down when he's on vacation. For quality control, it's really the only way. I used to live in Seattle and read a thread on the NW board the other day that Tom Douglas doesn't spend as much time in his kitchens as he used to and that they've suffered because of it. Kudos to Bianco for taking ownership of his product.
I agree with the Wiseguy rec but would also suggest not adding anything. I think they have found the perfect combinations through much research and adding anything just tips the balance of flavors one way or the other.
The crust is fabulous, but I'd have to say the cheese makes it for me. I read somewhere that they make there and smoke it with the pecan wood. Hmmmm....
If you get tired of waiting for these heavenly pizzas.... 'cos they are made in heaven, you might look at Cibo (603 N. Fifth Ave. (at Fillmore Street), Phoenix). Not quite as good as Bianco's, but not far off and the queues are not so extreme.