Casa Bianca (review+pics)
- pleasurepalate Apr 30, 2007 11:33 PM
I have been a Casa Bianca lover for over 10 years now and to this day, I think they have one of the best pizzas in town and is definitely deserving of the kudos that I'm giving it. Before I say anymore, I should preface that the praise is really just for the pizza. I've tried their various pasta offerings over the years and have never been wowed by any of them.
As for the pizza, there are so many reasons why I love it, that I almost don't know where to start, so I'll just start from the bottom and move my way up. First, I love the crust. Without fail, it's always thin, light and crusty and I like the fact that the thin crust goes all the way to the pizza's edge. There isn't that big honking bready hard speed bump that I've experienced with other thin crust pizzas. By the way, I advocate eating the pizza there. It loses something when you have it for take-out.
As for the sauce, it always tastes fresh to me. Whether it is or not, I don't know, but I've had pizzas in the past where the pizza sauce tasted like canned tomato sauce and I'm sure some of you know what I'm talking about. Canned tomato sauce can be too sweet, so I like how the Casa B. sauce adds just the right amount of acidity without being overwhelming. I also like that Casa B. doesn't over sauce their pizzas. There's always a good proportion between the sauce and the rest of the toppings.
What I like about the cheese is that you get just enough to fulfill one's craving for oooey-gooey melted goodness, but not so much that when you take a bite out of your pizza, both the cheese and toppings slide off your slice and is all hanging from your mouth down to your chin. Now that's an attractive sight, don't you think?
Now on the toppings. If and when you ever make your first visit to Casa Bianca and you're not vegetarian, be sure to order a sausage pizza. All the sausage is made in-house and is packed with lots of great flavor. My personal favorite is meatball and tomatoes and occasionally, depending on who I'm with, I'll either add olives and/or anchovies.
A couple things to note about the toppings. If you order eggplant, it comes breaded and if you order mushrooms, what you'll get are canned mushrooms. So if breaded eggplant and/or canned mushrooms aren't for you, than skip them.
Now in regards to wait, ambiance and service, there are a few things I want to mention. Yes, the wait can be very long and parking can be a pain. It's a very popular restaurant, but I think it's worth the wait. As for ambiance, they really pack people inside their two dining areas, so it can get very noisy to the point you can't hear yourself think, so you may want to consider coming at more of an off hour.
Because it is very busy, service can be a bit spotty, so sometimes you just have to be more aggressive about signaling to your waiter or waitress. One last thing. Many people don't realize that Casa B. will take large group reservations with a minimum of 6 up to 15 maximum, but only during specific hours. During the week, large group reservations are after 7:00 pm. I'm not sure about weekends. In either case, you probably want to double-check with Casa Bianca personally.
For this meal, my friend and I shared mozzarella sticks (how can you go wrong with deep fried cheese?), a meatball, eggplant and olive pizza (delicious as usual) and Zabaglione Ice Cream in a white chocolate shell which was a sweet way to end the meal.
Overall, the pizza at Casa Bianca is quite stellar and every time I've gone, I've never been disappointed.
To see pics, go to:
1650 Colorado Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90041
Hi... We also enjoy Casa Bianca, parking hassles and wait times notwithstanding, for the sausage pie (requested "well done" ). I consider their pies to be the best local version of the *thin-crust* chicago style ( square/rectangular sliced). Villa Italian on the westside is similar, but the sausage and crust is not quite in the same league, for us. If Aurelios in Chicago is a perfect 10 in the thin-crust chicago category, I'd score Casa Bianca as a very solid 7.5 (half a point being deducted for the hour wait and being closed on Sundays and Mondays)...
Well (and this is purely my opinion as a pizza lover who is very easily pleased by most pies), Villa Italian's pie resembles Casa Bianca more than it resembles Aurelios. If Aurelios is a perfect 10 and Casa Bianca is an imperfect 7.5, Villa Italian is a solid 6. And this is in the thin-crust chicago category. Villa Italian is much skimpier on the sausage and cheese, when compared to Aurelios. And both the crust and the cheese can be floppy if not asked for "well done". I find Villa Italian's other offerings (pasta, anti-pasti salads, etc) to be kinda weak but serviceable. Villa Italian's biggest strength would seem to be shorter wait time and easier access on the westside. It's no destination pie, just a good facsimile neighborhood option...
I'll be honest -- Casa Bianca didn't do it for me. While it was not a bad pizza by any stretch of the imagination, I did not think it was particularly great either. It was a decent pizza in a classic setting, but it did not live up to the hype and I don't think it compares favorably to similar style pizza in other cities. To make my bias clear, I tend to prefer a different type of crust (think Antica Pizzeria), so some of my comments might be rooted in a general preference for a different style of pizza.
I will agree with the OP that the sausage is pretty good.
Nice review by the OP but I agree about the Casa Bianca crust. It reminds me of a saltine. My idea of a True pizza crust is Petrillo's Pizza. I now ask for the thin crust. The sauce, cheese, and sausage are about the same as Casa Bianca but you get much more for your money at Petrillo's Pizza. I recall two years ago someone wanted to meet half-way between the two places and share half a pizza after each buying a pizza at one of these places. That was a good idea because that is the best way to compare, side-by-side. The OP said they like the amont of cheese on the Casa Bianca pie. Petrillo's Pizza does have more cheese and maybe twice the sausage (which taste the same IMO). I know that Petrillo's will make it as you ask because the thin crust is not on their menu and if you ask them they will make it thin. If someone wanted less cheese and less sausage they only need to say so. Nevertheless, the crust at Petrillo's is a real Boston / NYC / Chicago Pizza crust. Also, square/rectangular sliced pizza is what you will get at Petrillo's unless you reqest pie cut.
833 E Valley Blvd
San Gabriel, CA 91776
We're with you. It seams that there is so much bad pizza out there now, that what I would consider an average pizza like this is getting raves. But beyond that, the experience at CB was very unpleasent. After an hour wait we were seated only to be told that if we wanted pizza we would have to wait an additional 45 minutes because they were backed up. Since we don't live in the area and were determined to try it, we waited. Even starving it failed to impress. The eggplant was quite bland, the sausage was ok, with the crust not really adding much flavor but rather a bit of crunchy texture. We always have to see for ourselves, but if anyone is on the fence--don't believe the hype...
oh yea, forgot to mention how oppressively LOUD it was (Saturday night). At times it was so loud it was painful.
I wasn't crazy about the pizza the first time I visited Casa Bianca - probably due to ordering a mushroom pizza and getting canned mushrooms. I went back a few weeks ago and loved it though. We had one pepperoni pizza with the regular crust and on pizza with whole wheat crust (although this was the pizza I ordered and it was only 2 weeks ago I can't remember the topping!). I loved the whole wheat crust, the sauce, the cheese cooked to perfection on top... We arrived on a packed Saturday night (between 8:30-9pm) and decided rather than wait the hour to get the pies to go, and sip on a liter of wine in the meantime. A table opened up before the pizzas were ready, so we got to sit afterall (probably only a 10-15 minute wait). We had a great time, good food, and decent wine for the price. I can't wait to go back...
re: Norm Man
I've been going to Casa for years now, and I love the place. I can't get enough. I hate their hours though, so inconvenient. The best thing to do is live closeby (like me) and take it out.
Thanks for the tip about reservations, there are so many times I'd like to go in a large group but can't because I didn't know!
Second the part about the 'shrooms. The only non-canned mushrooms that might be OK on a pizza are sautéed ones. Got no use for crunchy mushrooms!
Don't agree with WS about Casa Bianca pizzas, though. As I may have mentioned before, theirs are EXACTLY identical to the ones with which I first fell in love, so whatever "flaws" a CB pizza might be perceived to have - floppy crust, too much goop, bland richness instead of sparkly-fresh flavors - only serve to endear it to me. Cut that sucker up and pass the pepper flakes!