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Jan 18, 2010 09:56 AM

Pizzeria Bianco – Is Chris Bianco More Hands-Off These Days? (PHX)

Was traveling through PHX last weekend and decided to try Pizzeria Bianco for the first time. When we sat down, I was surprised to learn that Chris Bianco was away on vacation. I thought I’d read somewhere that he’s a little fanatical about overseeing all of the pizza making himself. Not sure if Chris has always taken vacations or if this is a new thing.

In any case, we had a nice meal there. My observations are below:

We arrived at 7 pm on Saturday night prepared for a wait. The actual waiting time was almost 4 hrs which was a little longer than expected. The bar across the street had good English beers on tap, comfortable leather reclining chairs, pool, and football on TV. It was a perfect place to hang out before having pizza. Bar Bianco (next door) was a little quieter and stiffer but also pleasant.

We ordered the Rosa, the Wiseguy, the Sonny Boy, and the Biancoverde with prosciutto. The parmigiano reggiano on the Rosa made it extremely rich. It was a nice one slice change of pace, but I wouldn’t want to eat a whole Rosa pie. The other pies were all good but not significantly better than what you can get at places like Settebello in Las Vegas. Two of my friends thought the Gaeta olives detracted from the Sonny Boy but I liked them. We all thought that the fennel sausage on the Wise Guy was excellent but that the pie might have been nicer with fewer onions (although none of us are wild about onions).

The highlight of all the pizzas was the extremely thin crust and the overall texture. Other pizzas I’ve had in this style sometimes get soggy in the middle but this wasn’t a problem at PB.

Overall, I was glad to have tried PB but probably would not brave the wait to eat there again.

Pizzeria Bianco
623 E Adams St, Phoenix, AZ 85004

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  1. I had the same experience on 7/3/09 when he was on vacation then too. I haven't been back since. Also haven't seen him at Pane Bianco in months and I'm usually there more than a few times a week.

    4 Replies
    1. re: rxenergie

      Funny, I didn't realize that he was EVER at Pane Bianco. Was there a time where he was working there regularly?

      Granted, I've only been there a handful of times (it's a bit of a hike), but I just assumed he delegated all of the Pane Bianco work to his staff.

      1. re: crsin

        I can't remember if I've ever seen him at Pane Bianco during service, but I know I've seen him a couple of times while getting my morning coffee at Lux.

        1. re: crsin

          Yes, usually he would be down below on his laptop, however I haven't seen him there in ages and my last Pizzeria Bianco trip was a disappointment as he wasn't there.

        2. re: rxenergie

          I saw Chris at Pane Bianco when I was there in Dec; but he was not there last Friday. I did used to see him at Pane Bianco fairly regularly baking the sandwich bread.

        3. Late last summer or early in the fall, Chris mentioned something about having to deal with an illness in the family, so that could explain his absence from the restaurants.

          1. Thanks Dhalsim for the review. I live about 10 minutes away from Settebello in Vegas and have often wondered if it would be worth it to make a trip to Bianco just to see how it compares. Maybe I shouldn't be in any hurry to travel out there and wait 4 hours when I have a place 10 minutes away where I can usually just walk right in the door and be seated within seconds and the pizza is just about as good. I'm sure some day I'll try PB, but I won't be going out of my way to do so.

            3 Replies
            1. re: Whisper

              Not discounting the OP's recollection but I've never been seated past 10:30 ( no matter what day it is ) and I usually arrive around 9:45 to put my name down. Now granted, I'm almost always a single and end up sitting at the bar but I've never seen a 4 hour wait, even on the weekends. That's stretching the bounds of what I've heard/witnessed there -especially these days.

              That being said, there will most certainly be a wait when you arrive but unless it's a super-packed weekend night, I'd guess that your wait would be less than 2 1/2 hours at the absolute maximum.

              1. re: azbirdiemaker

                To be more precise, we arrived around 6:45 and were seated around 10:30. They told us if we weren’t in Bar Bianco by 10 then we’d lose our place in line. Inside the bar I heard one group complaining that they’d waited for more than 4 hours.

                That said, I imagine that this was an unusually busy Saturday night. There were probably 5 or 10 thousand Green Bay Packers fans in town for the football game. Judging from the sea of green around the restaurant, a lot of them wanted to try this famous pizza that they’d seen on TV. I guess they don’t call those guys cheeseheads for nothing.

                1. re: azbirdiemaker

                  We've had a 4-hour wait quoted to us before, with a seating at about 11 pm. I forget what night it was, may have been a weekend? There were four of us. Needless to say, we decided to switch plans and ended up at Digestif and Cowboy Ciao. I love Pizzeria Bianco and don't mind waiting (especially sipping wine and noshing on snacks at Bar Bianco) but our limit is about 2-1/2 hours.

              2. Recently made another visit to Pizzeria Bianco myself. To reiterate what everyone else has said, it isn't excellent pizza, but very well executed. Overall, I think the food, service, and environment make this a special place.

                We had reservations for the 5:00 seating (there are 2 reservations available every night, one at 5, and another at 8:30). The reservation is for anywhere between 6 and 10 people (we added 2 more people at the last minute, and it was no big deal). I called at exactly 4 o'clock, exactly one month in advance to get the reservation.

                Everyone agreed that the pizza is not worth a 4 hour wait, but that if you embrace the wait as part of the experience (having a glass of wine at bar bianco) it is a wonderful experience, and worth doing.

                Chris was not on premises the night we went, which was interesting to me, as I understood that he was the only one who cooked the pizzas, and that if he didn't do it, they weren't open. Everything was wonderful, and him not being there didn't seem to effect quality. His wife was working, so that was interesting. He is often at Pane Bianco, not working the counter, but in the back (I think they run both restaurants out of the back of that place).

                1. If this is true -- Pizzeria Bianco operating with Chris in absenstia -- then it would truly be a tragedy.

                  Bianco is Chris. Without him, it really isn't worth the effort.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: ipsedixit

                    i went to PB two weeks ago, waited 3.25 hrs for a table for two, only to realize Chris wasn't there (two guys were manning the ovens) and received two mediocre (not cooked enough in the middle) pizzas. i love PB, but this experience was incredibly disappointing. the saddest bit of it is that I was well over half-way to drunk, seeing that we spent over 3 hrs beforehand at Rose & Crown and Bar Bianco. i'll go back, but only with reservations.