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Why all the Casa Bianca bashing?!

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blacksab67 Aug 15, 2006 05:41 PM

Never ceases to amaze me...

The amount of Casa Bianca bashing on this board.

IMHO, when you take into account all the particulars of CB - cost, atmosphere, crowd - it's a solid night with friends. One of the best "cheap eats" in town.

Christ, where are you gonna find a cheaper carafe of house red?

Fine, it's not "the greatest pizza in Los Angeles," but so what? We always ask 'em to cook our pizza a little longer...and they always do.

  1. s
    socal boy Aug 17, 2006 05:53 AM

    I hate the wait, but love the garlic, sausage and eggplant pizza. Get the extra large and its pretty good the next day.

    1. p
      phlosar Aug 16, 2006 10:08 PM

      All this talk of Casa Bianca made me hungry last night, so off I went. I only order take-out so I cannot comment on the line. For about $20, I got an extra-large sausage and pepperoni. It was ready when I arrived, and it was hot 20 minutes later when I returned home. I did not specify well done, but it was nicely cooked. It's a heavy pizza, due to the toppings. The sausage is home-made, and it was excellent. I grew up in New England and appreciate a thin crust heavy on the toppings. This is a very nice pizza. The extra large is enough for three serious pizza eaters (enough for about 4 normal people). It is the best that I have had out here in LA since I came here about a year ago. I still have many places to try of course. Also, I really like proscuitto as a topping, and I don't believe they have it. Take-away is the way to go if you reasonably close. At 830pm last night, the chairs outside were filled with those waiting. How much more pleasant to be at home with my own beverages and entertainment. For those of you who have not tried it, give it one chance. It won't break the bank.

      1. mr mouther Aug 16, 2006 03:51 PM

        the place sucks because the line sucks. As Griller said above, value is not only about price, and CB fails on EVERY level other than the food, which while not a total failure, couldn't reach 3 notches above mediocre if it was standing on a pool table. (it rests comfortably around 1.5 notches above mediocre on a scale of 20 in both directions)
        PLenty of people will continue to eat there, either for emotional and historical reasons (Cecilbee above) or because of all the mediaflagwaving.
        Frankly, I don't trust anyone who says they eat there b/c of the food: there are too many other hurdles in place there, and plenty of other places with quality food w/o those hurdles.

        1. Cecilbee Aug 16, 2006 03:23 PM

          While I respect your opinion and won't quarrel with it, I take exception with the idea that "Any other place with the same quality but without the hype would have been out of business long ago". Long before Chowhound, the internet, J Gold or Zagats, Casa Bianca was a thriving restaurant in Eagle Rock. I remember it from when I was a teenager in the 70s & 80s growing up in nearby Highland Park, and it was even then very busy with diners. It never required "hype" to stay in business - many locals just love it and that's what has sustained that business for decades.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Cecilbee
            g
            Griller141 Aug 17, 2006 05:11 AM

            I also have patronized the place for decades, albeit less so recently because of my reduced tolerance for inconvenience. I agree that it is a good neighborhood pizza joint that serves the local community well. It thrives just like dozens of other good neighborhood places. My comments have no quarrel with or disrespect for this. It is only when it is overhyped as the best pizza place in the city that I feel compelled to present a reality check.

          2. g
            Griller141 Aug 16, 2006 04:34 AM

            There is good reason for the bashing. Any other place with the same quality but without the hype would have been out of business long ago. I agree with the many posters who point out that without the hype it would't get bashed, it would just be another dive.
            Better wine even cheaper: 2 buck Chuck or the carafes at any number of other places.
            The pizza is not that bad, but there is better (as infinitely noted on this board) at similar prices and without the dumpy surroundings, no parking, no reservations, cramped waiting room, and so on.
            Value has two components, and only one is price.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Griller141
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              silence9 Aug 16, 2006 04:15 PM

              Hi Griller141... Wow, it never ever occurred to me that Casa Bianca's benign environment (interior atmosphere or exterior neighborhood) could aptly be considered "dumpy surroundings". Perhaps if compared to eating pizza at Spago, I guesss it is dumpy. But otherwise, it's an old skool red sauce pizza parlor, fragrant of parmesan cheese and oregano and baking dough. Due to its brisk business and popularity, tables are bussed almost the moment every sated group of diners exit the door. Yeah, real leather booths and indirectly-lit wall sconces would be nice, but really, the only thing I notice visually at Casa Bianca besides the food directly in front of me, are the other diners. Maybe you mean that the other ravenous diners are dumpy? ;-) And yes, the waiting room is cramped, but they are decent enough to provide a few chairs outside for some of the overflow patrons (can you see Father's Office or Pink's doing that for their customers?). And lastly, as far as parking goes, God bless Eagle Rock for having parallel street parking on both sides of the street that is not metered. I've parked along the street and on the side streets, and if I remember correctly, there are neither permit-only designations nor meters to contend with in the immediate area (though I'm willing to be corrected if my memory is incorrect here). I will say that I'm not crazy about their aging glassware, or for that matter, their aging restrooms. But otherwise, it just seems like an ordinary room conducive to eating inexpensive italian-american food. Environment notwithstanding, if you just don't like the pizza, then that is certainly an opinion shared by many others, as cited above...

              1. re: silence9
                g
                Griller141 Aug 17, 2006 03:46 AM

                I have to say that this place does ignite passions. If you like it, I certainly will not try to tell you that you don't - and I am aware that there are very many true fans.
                I agree with you on several points: the turnover is very fast, it is "an old skool red sauce pizza parlor", the waiting room is cramped, you can sit on plastic chairs out on Colorado Boulevard while you wait (including in the rain), you can try to find a parallel parking place on Colorado (good luck after 7pm)or on the unlit side streets without a permit, the glassware is "ageing", the room is ordinary, and the food is inexpensive Italian-American. If that is what you want you will not be disappointed. Just don't tell me it is the best pizza experience in the City. The other diners, far from being similarly dumpy, are the only joy I have found at being there.
                I would also add to Philosar's post, below, that my experiences with take out are little better than dining in - phone is often not answered and orders are rarely ready when promised. But there are the plastic chairs on Colorado to soften the wait.

            2. c
              calpurnia Aug 16, 2006 03:33 AM

              Casa Bianca is my favorite, always has been. I am often disapointed to see the negative reviews, but each person has their opinion, which I respect.

              1 Reply
              1. re: calpurnia
                g
                Griller141 Aug 19, 2006 02:24 AM

                More good reasons for the bashing appear on the overrated restaurant thread

                http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

              2. p
                phlosar Aug 16, 2006 01:44 AM

                The sausage is really good, as is the pepperoni. I have only done take-out. Hmmm, I am getting in the mood. This board always makes me hungry, irrespective of when I last ate!

                1. Kris P Pata Aug 15, 2006 09:36 PM

                  So they use canned mushrooms, the queue for a table resembles the 405 @ 5:30 PM and the owner has the personality of of cottage cheese but, I agree that CASA BIANCA gets a bad rap despite making a damn good pie at still egalitarian prices. As far as it being LA's best pie, naw. I too celebrate VILLAGE; and I lament still the passing of VITO'S but IMHO the current titleholder resides @ SLICE OF NY in quaint Seal Beach.

                  1. b
                    blacksab67 Aug 15, 2006 08:13 PM

                    Right on. Totally agree with Village Pizza. (The old Vito's was my personal fave - and the weird version of Joe Peep's that used to be at Sunset & Farifax...eons ago.)

                    Again, I think it all comes to down to overall "value." Very easy to get out of there at less than $20/person - with wine & beer.

                    1. Suebee Aug 15, 2006 08:04 PM

                      I always really want to love Casa Bianca pizza, really I do. It's close to us and charming in a small town way. But we have just never been impressed and so it's a mystery to me why it gets raves.

                      Village Pizzeria in Larchmont Village is our idea of pizza perfection and I salivate just thinking about it. But to each his own..

                      1. s
                        sambrown3 Aug 15, 2006 07:52 PM

                        Case Bianca Pizza is not good. That is why it gets bashed. It is beter than any place else around that area, and I am sure that is why it is busy. I guess I'm always suprized so many people on this board like it, because I would think you have more diserning taste. I like fresh ingredients on my pies, not a bunch of cheap canned stuff.

                        9 Replies
                        1. re: sambrown3
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                          silence9 Aug 15, 2006 08:33 PM

                          Hi... Casa Bianca is frequently faulted for its purported use of canned mushrooms. But I wonder if the lion's share of pedestrian palates can detect signficant differences between a sliced fresh button mushroom and a canned one, after being subjected to 20 minutes in a 500 or 600 degree oven (the operative term here being 'significant differences'). I reckon most discerning palates can tell the difference between a seared lobe of foie gras and a seared slice of liverwurst, and would prefer the former to the latter. But how can a handful of sliced funghi subjected to a blast furnace (pizza oven) account for such vehemence in this particular argument (canned mushrooms = yuck)? Yup, there's a heap of hate for their pies. But I can't get beyond the flaccid argument regarding flaccid mushrooms...

                          1. re: silence9
                            d
                            diningdivala Aug 15, 2006 08:43 PM

                            Actually, the difference between a canned mushroom and fresh button mushroom is incredibly obvious, 600 degree blast or not. Think about it: Canned mushrooms packed in water, fresh mushrooms not. So the liquid that's absorbed from the fresh mushroom leaves it a bit shriveled, and dark brown, whereas a canned mushroom never loses it's water-ness.

                            Beyond that, i have never had Casa Bianca because the lines have always been too long; i would never wait in line for what even half of some consider to be the "best" pizza. I've tried ordering it a couple of times, but even then it would take an hour. Planning around all of that seems imperative, which I must remember to do sometime down the road. I'm always up for good pizza. And really, in LA, there just isn't the kind of pizza I love. It's my favorite food group and i tend to just accept what I can get.

                            1. re: diningdivala
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                              nd33x Aug 15, 2006 08:54 PM

                              That analysis is incorrect.

                              1. re: nd33x
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                                diningdivala Aug 16, 2006 09:10 PM

                                well, i tried. I didn't say i was a book. Just saying what I thought. when i order mushrooms, i prefer fresh to canned because i don't like the rubbery watery canned mushrooms. I thought it was because they're packed in water.

                              2. re: diningdivala
                                s
                                silence9 Aug 15, 2006 08:57 PM

                                Hello, and yes, I follow your logic here as regards the food chemistry, moisture, etc., especially if one is popping whole canned mushrooms into one's pie hole. But again, as far as 'significant differences' go, *slices* of mushroom cut 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick and comprising perhaps less than 10% of the actual chewable foodstuff on a Casa Bianca pie? C'mon, is this fraction of each mouthful really accounting for the resounding abhorrence voiced so often? If it is, then I suppose that I qualify as an undiscerning member of the great unwashed and will eat my pie with a scarlet-lettered 'CB' on my bib :-).

                                1. re: silence9
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                                  estone888 Aug 15, 2006 09:25 PM

                                  I don't like mushrooms, canned or fresh, on my pizza. It's the basics of their pies that I don't care for: a dull sauce, not particularly good cheese, a crust that gets soggy all too quick. Whatever toppings you put on a Casa Bianca pizza, I still find the foundation for those toppings lacking.

                            2. re: sambrown3
                              Will Owen Aug 16, 2006 01:55 AM

                              Just as canned tuna is the one, correct kind for vitello tonnato, so the canned mushroom is the correct sort for a pizza. Where the heck are you from, anyway...CALIFORNIA?

                              1. re: sambrown3
                                h
                                HBfoodie Aug 16, 2006 01:59 AM

                                I may be one of the few people left who actually PREFERS canned mushrooms on my pizzas and go out of my way to find places that have it. It may come from growing up in the 60's, where it seemed like canned mushrooms were the only type of mushrooms put on pizzas---possibly the reason why fresh mushrooms weren't offered was because I remember hearing about so many cases of "mushroom poisoning" back in those days!.

                                1. re: HBfoodie
                                  l
                                  ladelfa Aug 16, 2006 04:40 PM

                                  Fresh mushrooms "water off" on the pizza, making it a little soupy. I have come to sort of like this, though, and it does spread the mushroom flavor out into the cheese a bit more.

                                  Canned mushrooms, having been pre-cooked during the canning process, have already shed most of their water and so they don't change size or shape so much while baking.

                                  The best option, of course, is fresh mushrooms (crimini, maybe, plus a few sliced porcini?) that have been sauteed a little to give up their water before going on the pizza.

                              2. David Kahn Aug 15, 2006 06:20 PM

                                A basic rule of the Chowhound boards is that any place that receives significant praise will also get criticized by detractors. It is the "Inevitable Backlash."

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: David Kahn
                                  o
                                  oro3030 Aug 15, 2006 11:33 PM

                                  see Din Tai Fung as a second case in point.

                                2. Das Ubergeek Aug 15, 2006 06:20 PM

                                  I don't "bash" it, but I don't go there, simply because the food I get once I've waited in that ridiculous line is not worth the effort.

                                  1. Alimentary My Dear Watson Aug 15, 2006 06:07 PM

                                    I think what negativity there is about this place is inspired by those who insist that it really is the greatest pizza in LA.

                                    I think it's a good pizza, but there are several places I like better. D'Amores and Lamonica's suit me better than Casa Bianca. And I remember loving Barone's, but I haven't had it since I was a kid.

                                    1. e
                                      estone888 Aug 15, 2006 06:07 PM

                                      I think because it so regularly pops up in polls and surveys as the best, or one of the best pizzas in L.A. If was just some innocuous neighborhood pizza joint that no one ever singled out or made a big deal out of, probably no one would bother bashing it.

                                      As for "a cheaper carafe of house red" - I don't know about you, but I prefer there to be at least some sort of balance between price and quality. I'd rather pay a buck or two more for a carafe of red wine that I could stomach drinking.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: estone888
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                                        Eastsider Aug 15, 2006 06:51 PM

                                        I completely agree. The pizza is not bad, but it is overhyped. The hype + the classic look of the place generates the long line.

                                      2. n
                                        nimo Aug 15, 2006 06:04 PM

                                        Actually, it is "the greatest pizza in Los Angeles." By some distance. Still.

                                        5 Replies
                                        1. re: nimo
                                          martyR Aug 15, 2006 09:49 PM

                                          Correct. Nothing comes close to the sausage and garlic at CB. The thin crust is perfect to my taste.

                                          1. re: martyR
                                            l
                                            ladelfa Aug 15, 2006 10:30 PM

                                            So maybe what you need to say is that it's the "best sausage and garlic pizza in LA." Nothing else there seems to succeed, save perhaps the one with eggplant.

                                            Frankly, if a pizzeria can't make a satisfactory plain cheese-and-tomato-sauce pizza, then I knock it down a whole bunch of points, no matter how wonderful some variation with a lot of strong-flavored toppings is.

                                            And frankly, the plain cheese pizza I had there was totally unremarkable. Costco, on a good day, does better. Plus I hated that they cut it into squares (WTF?!), making it impossible to pick up slices properly (where "properly" equals the NJ technique of folding it along the radius).

                                            1. re: ladelfa
                                              s
                                              silence9 Aug 15, 2006 10:37 PM

                                              The 'square cut' is very Chicago-style, and I do not mean thick or deep dish or stuffed. Thin crust AND square cut, like at Casa Bianca (especially their sausage version) is an admirable approximation of the famed Aurellio's pies from Chicago. Casa Bianca just needs to let the pie crispen up for an extra 3 minutes...

                                              1. re: silence9
                                                e
                                                epop Aug 16, 2006 06:28 AM

                                                aurelio's is my favorite all-time pizza, by far.

                                                is it really an approximation??? i am beyond thrilled to hear this.

                                                1. re: silence9
                                                  l
                                                  ladelfa Aug 16, 2006 04:30 PM

                                                  Yours may be the single most informative post I have ever seen on Casa Bianca. It explains (a) why some people seem to love it, especially in the sausage configuration, and (b) why someone like me, who went expecting New York / New Jersey style pizza (high-gluten flour, no-oil/no-sugar dough, floppy and foldable), might be miserably disappointed.

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