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Oct 23, 2007 09:07 AM

Pizzeria Bianco, Sea Saw & Cowboy Ciao...are they as good as I've been told?

I'm heading to Scottsdale for a week on business. I've been told these are places not to be missed. Do you agree? Is there some place even better in your opinion?

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  1. I have been to some of the very best restaurant's from coast to coast. And Pizzeria Bianco is one of my favorites. A true gem that any community should be proud of.

    Some frown over the wait. I view it as part of the experience.

    1. i completely agree. i think they're 3 of the best spots in metro phoenix. but that depends what you mean when you say better. first - depending where you are staying in scotsdale the drive to pizzeria bianco could be prohibitively long. second - in general, how much driving do you want to do? being that metro phoenix urban sprawl suprassed that of los angeles county, you could spend over an hour in your car driving one way to get some place. do you want to do that? third - what do you mean by better? are you only looking at fine dining establishments? i think there are some excellent gems here and they aren't all fancy.

      1. Pizzeria Bianco -- Almost everyone, including me, thinks the food is outstanding. The controversy is about the long wait for a table. No need to rehash that debate gain. Here are some prior discussions:

        Cowboy Ciao -- I like it, but think it gets overpraised sometimes. I've never had a bad meal there, but I've had many equally good meals at places that don't get as much buzz.

        Sea Saw -- no experience with that one.

        As for any place that might be better, that depends on where you're staying, how far you are willing to drive, how much you wish to spend, what type of food you prefer, and myriad other factors. Can you tell more about your dining interests?

        Sea Saw
        7133 E Stetson Dr Ste 1, Scottsdale, AZ 85251

        Cowboy Ciao
        7133 East Stetson Drive, Scottsdale, AZ 85251

        Pizzeria Bianco
        623 E Adams St, Phoenix, AZ 85004

        6 Replies
        1. re: silverbear

          I completely agree on all counts with silvebear.

          PB is fabulous and I don't mind the wait because I know it's going to be that way.

          CC is good but I wasn't blown away by it ( ate there just last week, Tuesday ). The appetizer scallop dish was right on point - 3 large seared scallops, cooked perfectly. Set atop beet risotto with dill cream and crumbled goat cheese. OUT OF SIGHT! My entree, the shropshire stuffed pork rib chop, left a little more to be desired. ( The shropshire blue cheese didn't belong anywhere near that dish, IMO. )

          SS - never been but look forward to it at some point.

          I would add Binkley's to your list. It is, hands down, my absolute favorite restaurant in the scottsdale/carefree/cave creek area. It might be a bit of a hike depending on where you're staying - but it's totally worth it. Think The French Laundry at reasonable prices. It's on a level all its own.

          1. re: azbirdiemaker

            Binkley's is a good call, if the OP is in North Scottsdale.

            You MUST try Sea Saw, and I must go again!

            Between Scottsdale and Phoenix D'town, three that come to my mind, that are closer are: Vincent's on Camelback, elements at the Sanctuary and T Cooks. All worth the shorter drive.

            However, as Michelin states, " a three-starred restaurant is worth the extra drive... ," or some such. Note to Michelin: please pardon the paraphrase.



            6920 E. Cave Creek Rd., Cave Creek, AZ 85331

            T Cooks At the Royal Palms
            5200 East Camelback Road, Phoenix, AZ 85018

            Vincent On Camelback
            3930 E Camelback Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85018

            1. re: azbirdiemaker

              Binkley's is totally worth the drive. Not to mention, seeing the beautiful desert in N. Scottsdale and Cave Creek.

            2. re: silverbear

              I'm with you, to a point. I have had nothing but great meals, and fun wines at Cowboy Ciao. Have had a few wonderful meals at Sea Saw, but not the omakazis [plural SP?], and have had good pizza at Pizzeria Bianco, but it did not quite live up to the buzz. Very good, but I have actually had better pizza (personal tastes, ya' know). I'd gladly dine at any of these. Need to get back to all, as it has been a few years (wow, can it have been THAT long?) to see how each is doing.

              As pointed out, Metro-Phoenix is 500 Sq Miles, and growing, so one could pick out locations that are hours apart, even though they "seem" to be in a much smaller area. Depending on you tolerance for driving, I'd do a MapQuest search for your hotel, and then these three spots. Also, Greater Phoenix Metro Area [GPMA] is experiencing a bunch of freeway closures. They build one and open it - shut it down to re-pave with rubberized surface and open it - shut it down to build HOV lanes and open it - shut it down to put in rubberized surface for the HOV lanes. They are in one of those phases on many, as I type, so some freeway driving might be very limited. If you plan on doing anything on the freeways, check for closures, either partial, or full. Surface streets are broad and usually flow well, but the freeways are in a constant state of flux.

              Once you get a geographical idea, do not hesitate to get back and ask for recs. closer to where you'll be staying. Phoenix has some great food, regardless of what folk in some other culinary-destination cities think. I easily compare it, in many respects, to San Francisco, Las Vegas, NYC and London. We've probably got as many James Beard Award winners, right now, as any place, save NYC in the US.

              Good travels and dining,

              1. re: Bill Hunt

                Thank you , Hunt - for reminding people - PB is good - it's pizza. Sea Saw - on parallel w/ Nobu and some others. Binkley's is its own experience, - and Cowboy Ciao is a genuinely regional treasure.

                1. re: Alice Letseat

                  Maybe the fact that it is pizza is what impressed me the most. Even though I can't imagine placing it in the same category of what most people think of in regards to pizza. Papa Johns, Pizza Hut etc etc.

                  Give me a endless supply of luxury ingredients and I guarantee I'll give you a memorable wonderful meal. Give me flour, yeast and water and my confidence takes a vacation. Chris Bianco pulls it off and I can't help but admire that.

            3. Sunny,

              I have been to both Pizzeria Bianco and Cowboy Ciao and would highly recommend them. The catch with Pizzeria Bianco is the wait. Plan on it, hang out at their bar next door, walk around Heritage Square and when it is time to eat your taste buds will be rewarded!

              Billy Bob

              1. If possible and you have a large enough group, Pizzeria Bianco takes reservations for parties of 6-10. You might be able to do that and bypass the wait. We did that last week (I made them about 2 weeks in advance) and we only had a 20 min wait before our name was called. They take reservations for 5,6:30, and 8.