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PIZZERIA BIANCO

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  • yoyoma Apr 17, 2006 01:43 AM
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is this worth a drive from LA?

thank you.

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  1. It depends... (1) are you willing to wait 2 hours for pizza? and (2) are you willing to tack on another 6 hours of travel to that already 2 hour wait?

    5 Replies
    1. re: Bingo
      a
      alice (let's eat!)

      Hmmm...as Seth said, it is, after all: pizza. Pretty good pizza. Can get pizza at Cibo without a two hour wait. Can also get pizza in LA. Pretty good pizza, too! Stay home for pizza. Eat southwestern and Mexican food when you visit Phoenix. Travel for pizza? hmmm....Italy?

      1. re: alice (let's eat!)

        i may do bianco, but what do you suggest for southwest/mexican that won't break the bank?

        thanks

        1. re: yoyoma

          "...for southwest/mexican that won't break the bank?"

          Hands down, Los Sombreros (2534 N. Scottsdale). If you read this board regularly, you'll have seen the many raves. It's all true, honest.

          1. re: yoyoma
            a
            alice (let's eat!)

            Deenso's right (and besides, it's very hard to "break the bank" with southwestern/Mexican food here, unless you're determined to really go for the gusto (and you certainly can).) Los Sombreros would be your very best bet (it's on Scottsdale Rd., 2534 N. Scottsdale Rd., 480.994.1799). There's also Ranch Market (your little "trip to Mexico") with an excellent food court, to eat there at shared tables, or para llevar - and there is a store at 16th St. and Roosevelt, also S. Central and Southern) Have fun. Eat pizza in LA.

            1. re: yoyoma

              I wholeheartedly agree with the recommendation for Los Sombreros. The food is amazing and the atmosphere is also very nice, in that sort of Spanish-colonial way. If you want something more funky (restrooms filled with luchador memorabilia, etc) and still want unusual and delicious food, you could also try the Barrio Cafe. There's a recent thread about it here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/619685. Do not miss the churros.

        2. s
          Seth Chadwick

          No. It is pizza.

          You would be investing 14-16 hours of drive time, plus two hours of wait time. Assuming you spent the night in Phoenix, you would be spending $200+ for room, gas and food.

          For pizza.

          Take that money you would spend and go to Mastro's in Costa Mesa with your SO or best friend.

          Link: http://phoenixfeast.blogspot.com

          1. j
            JK Grence (the Cosmic Jester)

            Chris Bianco is a maestro of pizza, I have never tasted better. That said...

            I'd love to say it's worth the drive from LA, but it isn't. I'm sure that there are many pizza restaurants in LA that are *almost* as good as Bianco's without having to drive for hours, and like Seth Chadwick said, if you factor in gasoline and hotel, you can have a positively extravagant meal for less than half the total that you'd drop on one trip to Bianco's. If you happen to be anywhere in the metro Phoenix area (for example on vacation), it's most certainly worth a shot as long as you can handle the wait.

            I just had a brilliant idea for making the wait disappear... on First Fridays, the Arizona Science Center (right next door to Bianco's) is open with free admission on their Adults' Night Out program. Put your name on the list at Bianco's, go to the Science Center, enjoy yourself there, and then come back shortly before your name should be called. All I can do is hope that I'll be in the mood for pizza that night.

            Link: http://thecosmicjester.blogspot.com

            1. I have to admit that once you take a bite of the Wiseguy pizza, it reminds you why the place is so great. But as I get older I refuse to wait for food.

              The problem with Bianco's isn't the pizza, because there's no denying that it's wonderful. It's the wait. And that's no fault of theirs - people flock there.

              :)

              1. I live in Phoenix and won't go to Pizzeria Bianco! 'Nuff said. I think you'll get my perspective.

                4 Replies
                1. re: Gayle

                  Gayle - care to expand on that thought? I'm not too sure many others are going to agree with your subjective comment.

                  1. re: azhotdish

                    I actually have been to Bianco since my originial post. Twice. But, both times were with a large group with a reservation, on a weeknight, at 8 p.m. Once was on a Chowhound gathering.

                    It was great! Fabulous even. But, it's pizza. I can't think of what I'd wait in line for for 2 hours. Even with our reservation, I think we had to wait 25-30 minutes, which is pushing it. The bar next door is nice, but not inexpensive; and if I sit in the bar for 2 hours, I'll be schnockered and they could serve me Pizza Hut and I might not know it.

                    I get Chris Bianco's theory...he hand makes every single pizza, he selects the organic/local ingredients and he make a wonderful pizza. I realize that he doesn't want to mass produce and lower the standard, but I find it hard to believe that teaching one other human his method would reduce his pizza to dog food. I just find it a little arrogant and presumptuous. But the crowds keep lining up, I just won't be in the line.

                    1. re: azhotdish

                      Actually, there's a lot more diversity of opinion than you might expect. See this thread:

                      http://www.chowhound.com/topics/335070

                      Of course, since we're talking about personal likes and dislikes, virtually all comments are subjective.

                      1. re: silverbear

                        That certainly can't be argued, but saying you won't go somewhere without clarifying reduces someone's comment from subjective to irrational (IMHO).

                  2. No, it's not worth a roadtrip from LA. It's not even worth the effort if you were in Phoenix.

                    1. Yoyoma,

                      I agree with all of the concerns already shared regarding the wait. Someone said it isn't their fault, but I think it is. They are part of the disturbing trend of the "no reservations" policy. That is a bunch of ...well you know.

                      Having said that, is it worth the trip depends a lot on you. I will say, IMHO that Bianco's pizza is the best I have ever had. Imaginative, scrumptous, slices of heaven. Are you a pizza connoiseur? Is your goal in life to try all different styles of pizza. I might agree that driving all this way just for pie seems a bit extravagent, but would a weekend trip, with Pizzeria Bianco as the cornerstone meal be worth it? Let me take it from the reverse angle. I would drive to LA for this type of weekend and in fact have done so many times.

                      It basically boils down to what interests you. If you love good food, good ZA and can deal with the wait, I don't think you will be dissapointed.

                      Billy Bob

                      1. Bianco is amazing, the wait is ridiculous but you just go to the bar next door and have a few drinks. As far as Mexican, Los Sombreros is great, but IMHO opinion Los Dos Molinos down in the barrio is the absolute best mexican food. Super spicy.

                        1. if you love pizza, i think its totally worth it. i agree with the science center recommendation. they don't force you to sit outside and wait at bianco's. there is a bar next door. there are 2 museums in the complex area where bianco's is. walk around! visit some places! go see a movie! then come back and get you pizza.

                          but thats just me :D

                          add richardson's to you list of must eat's..santa fe style southwestern...and fantastic..

                          1. I have never been. However, sanity levels must be checked for those that think driving 6 hours for Pizza is worth it. And what about the other 6 hours back home?

                            1. My friend and I flew in from LA for six hours to go. So SO SO worth it.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: sloanedone

                                I'm gonna say it again and I'm gonna say it for every other person here who's thought it: Bianco's still ain't pizza in NYC and it sure as all be to h... ain't pizza in Italy. Yup - the East Coasters are still sayin' it, guys... Bianco makes excellent pizza. You can get it other places with out the wait. (and his appetizers...sorry, folks. stirctly eh.) Calabria deli,now...hey, anyplace in this ouitpost that has salt cod for sale gets my vote.

                                1. re: Alice Letseat

                                  I have lived in Chicago, Phoenix, and New Haven. I have eaten the best pizza in the midwest, west, and east coast. Alice, you are flat out wrong, Bianco is far superior than anything in New York, however it does not reach the lofty heights of Pepe's in New Haven. For goodness sakes Grimaldi's (arghuably the top pizza in New York) also has a restaurant in Scottsdale and it does not come close to bianco.

                              2. Forget Pizzeria Bianco, stay in Orange County and eat at Me-n-Eds. I'm from SoCal, and that's the best pizza I've ever come across. They aren't some fancy place, they just know how to make a great pie. It almost makes me want to move from Phoenix back to OC sometimes.

                                www.meneds.com/

                                1. So this discussion is back up again... as silly as it is to chime in, i can't resist. If you want to go wait, then it's totally worth it... great experience. BUT, if you are waiting reluctantly, grumbling about how the pizza better be as good as people say, then don't go. That is to say, if you think it'll be worth it to you, it will, if not, it won't.

                                  28 Replies
                                  1. re: kindofabigdeal

                                    get 6 people and make a reservation so there is no wait at all and be happy

                                    1. re: Molto E

                                      that's what i did

                                      1. re: kindofabigdeal

                                        Ugh, it sadly reminds me of some of my personality quirks mixed with an AZ lifestyle.

                                        Like, I REFUSE to pay cover for a nightclub in Phoenix/Scottsdale. Live band, fine, anything else? No. Never.

                                        I also REFUSE to pay/tip to valet park in a strip mall restarant parking lot when 50 yards away are tons of spots. I don't care how nice the restaurant is or how high my heels are. It's silly and I need the exercise.

                                        I also REFUSE to wait 2-3 hours for pizza when I have access to food of every kind in every corner of this huge city.

                                        I have been to Pizzeria Bianco twice and each time loved the pizza. But I have loved pizza elsewhere too and feel my inner rebel rise up every time someone suggests we go.

                                        It reminds me of self-torture. Let's wax our bikini line with no pain medication, then sit on the I-10 at 5 p.m. even though we don't have to and then let's call our Mother-in-law to talk about how she irons vs. how we iron and then let's purposely cut up our driver's licenses and then go wait at the DMV and then try talk a 2 year old into eating brussels sprouts.

                                        Anyway, my rant is that life is short and no pizza is worth 2-3 hours of waiting. I respect Chris and his mission and I really liked the pizza, but I can't recommend that kind of self-inflicted torture.

                                        1. re: HomeCookKirsten

                                          Good post, HCK -- I agree in some ways. I haven't been to PB in a few years because of this, although I do hit Pane Bianco for lunch a couple of times a month. His pizzeria is very, very, good. The pies are sublime. The commitment to excellence is unwavering and palpable. So is the attitude.

                                          Okay -- there are many other places all over the world with this ... character. Anyone here ever been to Pasta Nostra in SoNo, CT? Anyway, I digress.

                                          I place Bianco, Cibo, Grazie, Classic Italian, and others of their ilk (CPK is the McDonald's of the genre, good in its own way) in an entirely different category from pizza as most of us know it in America today. I like all of the above, some more than others, for good reason -- but there are great pizzas in entirely different styles that are just as good at what they do -- The wood-oven, relatively dainty pies mentioned here are not the same food as the NE/NY/NJ pies that I and many other chounds were weaned on. Let them be tasted separately, in separate threads. BTW, I have my feelings about the Chicago deep/thin versions, too, but chounds with real passion about them should speak up first.

                                          1. re: misohungrychewlow

                                            I'd take Pizzeria Regina or Haymarket Pizza (Boston) any day over most pies in AZ (except PB).

                                            1. re: azhotdish

                                              azhotdish...add Circle Pizza on Hanover street to that list!

                                              1. re: ciaogal

                                                Never been there...will have to scope it out when I get back.

                                                1. re: azhotdish

                                                  It's 'Wicked Awesome'

                                                  1. re: ciaogal

                                                    Pissa.

                                          2. re: HomeCookKirsten

                                            thanks kirsten for your points. i completely agree.

                                            further, i've gotta say this to everyone who raves about the pizza and proclaims it "better than chicago, better than NY, better than italy".

                                            what bianco makes it NOT pizza. Its good, the right ingredients are certainly there, but I said the same thing while exciting the famed Al Forno in Providence. It was great, it was interesting, and it had the crust, the cheese, the sauce, the toppings, but it wasn't pizza.

                                            And while i think what bianco makes is great, i find it insulting to wait that long for pretty much anything. I look at people at the cheesecake factory with the same question.

                                            so its not really about comparing bianco to NY pizza (which, by the way, kicks bianco's ass) or to chicacgo, because its like comparing apples and oranges. comparing bamboo club to silver dragon (one is chinese food and one, while still good, is not).

                                            1. re: hzp

                                              Did someone say Providence? I could really go for some Olneyville NY System wieners (three all the way) and a coffee milk right now.

                                              hzp - Bianco certainly has redefined what pizza can be, but I'm not so sure it's fair to say it's not pizza.

                                              1. re: azhotdish

                                                yeah, i'd like to hear more about why its not pizza

                                                1. re: azhotdish

                                                  what i miss of providence most : nim chow from asian paradise off thayer, geoff's wacko jacko and pickle free for all, checkers pizza at your door WITH ben and jerry's ANY time of day or night, and betting on which anorexic waitress at paragon was going to drop first :)

                                                  ahhh, coffee milk. :)

                                                  re: pizza/bianco - i guess my point is that i can call anything a pizza, or a reinterpretation of pizza, but it doesn't make it so, you know? for a comparison, you have to compare two likeminded items. i think its unfair to judge bianco against real pizza.

                                                2. re: hzp

                                                  You're going to have an awfully hard time convincing me that the Margherita that Bianco makes is not pizza. Indeed, it is my gold standard for what a pizza should be. I still remember the first time I had his.

                                                  If I get in the mood for Bianco's pizza, I'll take a deck of cards with me and relax out on the patio with a glass of wine, a friend, entertaining conversation, and a hot game of gin rummy. There are certainly worse fates to be had than enjoying good company for a couple of hours.

                                                  An alternate strategy is to go on First Friday. The science center next door has free admission. Just make sure you let the hostess know that you'll be walking around downtown, otherwise they'll cross you off the list if they don't see you.

                                                  1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

                                                    Yep, done First Fridays a few times. Works out well...don't be swayed by the 3+ hr wait...I've always gotten a table.

                                                    1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

                                                      see, if that's your gold standard than realistically, you're thinking of something different than i am as to what "pizza" is. Certainly, you're not going to get Bianco's pizza in Rome (infact, my Italian friend laughed at that idea). But then, you can't get NY pizza in rome , either.

                                                      1. re: hzp

                                                        thats interesting that you don't think that pizzeria bianco makes pizza. the guy spent his formative years making pizza IN NYC fer the love of marinara.

                                                        so if its not pizza, someone should tell some people like the james beard foundation and peter reinhart that. from the james beard foundation :

                                                        http://www.jamesbeard.org/events/2004...

                                                        peter reinhart that since he said in his book 'american pie: my search for the perfect pizza' that bianco's made the best pizza in the us. here's his biography :

                                                        y

                                                        Peter Reinhart is a baking instructor at Johnson & Wales University. He was the co-founder of the legendary Brother Juniper's Bakery in Sonoma, California, and is the author of five books on bread baking, including Brother Juniper's Bread Book and the modern classic The Bread Baker's Apprentice, which was named cookbook of the year in 2002 by both the James Beard Foundation and the International Association of Culinary Professionals. He lives with his wife, Susan, in Charlotte, North Carolina.

                                                        1. re: hzp

                                                          what is pizza?

                                                      2. re: hzp

                                                        I'm not going to weigh in on the question of whether PB is worth the wait. That's been discussed to death in previous threads, and the two sides will never convince each other. It's a topic on which PHX chowhounds have to agree to disagree.

                                                        I will say, however, that I simply cannot agree with the statement that PB does not serve pizza. To me, that's like saying that Barrio Cafe does not serve Mexican food. Sure, both Bianco and Barrio sometimes depart from rigid adherence to tradition in their pursuit of creative approaches to their respective cuisines. Nevertheless, in both cases the chefs have clearly been trained in the classic elements of the cuisine and continue to respect them. In other words, they can break the rules because they know the rules so well.

                                                        As for comparisons to what is considered pizza in various parts of the world, I grew up in New York and never saw what was all that special about NY-style pizza. In fact, I prefer California-style pizza (offbeat toppings, medium whole wheat crust). Some would claim that's not pizza at all, but again I think it's reinterpretation by those know the original and wish to expand upon it.

                                                        1. re: silverbear

                                                          nicely put, silverbear :) i agree!!

                                                          1. re: winedubar

                                                            My wife and I went to PB yesterday, and yes we go there an hour before it opened. We made the first seating. Passed the time while waiting, with drinks from next door and it is still for me (note: there is no such thing as a definitive best, only opinions) not only the best pizza I have encountered, it is right up there in the top three dining experiences for me in the valley. Everything was executed perfectly, the appetizers, the salads and of course the Wiseguy pizza! I will go back and I just know that there are tricks to deal with the wait!

                                                            Billy Bob

                                                          2. re: silverbear

                                                            That is exactly why this forum exists - to express (sometimes ad nauseum) opinion and encourage debate (I wish more of it was the intelligent kind - not just posts that slide off topic). I personally like Bianco. I am no stranger to waiting an hour or more for a great meal (Tomoe Sushi NYC, Pepe's Pizza New Haven). I dig Chris' style and for the fact that you can do ANYTHING you put your mind to (like making such great pizza that people will wait willingly for an hour or more). I am surprised at the attitudes of people on this Southwest board who claim to be foodies who don't like or support this unlikely pizza restaurant miracle that gives hope to those who can't get pizza this good locally - no matter how long the wait. Would I be going there every week? No. But I am flying in to go there this weekend and you'll find me happily waiting in line - perhaps a little buzzed off a beer or two. Pizza isn't worth waiting for? With attitudes like this - why post to this board, I just don't understand. See you in the funny papers!

                                                            1. re: Pigeage

                                                              This is a little odd. You spend the first sentence noting the importance of sharing opinions, then the rest if the post attempting to bash people who don't quite agree with yours.

                                                              If you've read through this thread and have done a search for PB, you'll likely have noticed that the place is almost universally loved on this board (including by myself). Does that mean that everyone regularly has a spare 4-5 hours to spend eating there? "Foodie" or not, this is a luxury that is hard to come by, which makes a lot of people hesitant to recommend PB to anyone who is not totally aware of what eating there entails, or is clearly searching for a "quick" dinner that does not require they clear their schedule for the entire evening...it's just not practical for a lot of people, and giving thoughtful recommendations for a visitor's request necessitates consideration of this.

                                                              Yes, if the wait were only one hour, I (and likely many others here) would probably be dining there much more frequently. However, the wait is almost always 2-3 hrs (unless you get there very early) not one, so most "detractors" are simply noting that there are plenty of other fantastic pizza places around they valley that should not be completely neglected just because PB has been so widely praised.

                                                              1. re: crsin

                                                                Thank you.

                                                                1. re: hohokam

                                                                  I agree with this. I still count PB as my favorite restaraunt in town yet I have not been in over a year. I fondly reacll the days when we went at least once a month and the wait was "only" an hour.

                                                                2. re: crsin

                                                                  Hmm. I did read the thread. And I responded and did not bash anyone - I was agreeing with silverbear, very sorry if that wasn't clear. And from what I can see (read),no: PB is not "almost universally praised" whatever that means, on this site. This is an opinion blog, with lots of opinions pro and con for everything it seems, and to me I get tired of it being too often taken over by haters and those with an axe to grind. So for you to say that a restaurant is so popular that people are willing to wait hours isn't a worthwhile food destination is "a little odd" to ME. PB is definitely, in my OPINION, worth a drive from L.A. And worth the wait. For that matter, it's worth me flying in to Phoenix on Friday, paying for a hotel room, contributing to your economy by dining at your other fine restaurants all weekend, and waiting however long it takes for the best pizza west of the Mississippi. Thank you for playing.

                                                          3. re: HomeCookKirsten

                                                            LOL!!! Love your post, HCK!

                                                        2. re: Molto E

                                                          I do agree. Every time we have dined there, we've put together such a group. Gad, I hate lines!

                                                          Hunt

                                                      3. I very much like Pizzeria Bianco. I do not like the 2 hour wait however. I live across the street so usually I walk over and put my name on the list, then walk home watch a movie and viola its time to eat. If you don't have that luxury as an option, it's not worth the time you have to invest. Cibo, as a few others have already said has incredible pizza, MUCH BETTER atmosphere, and no waits usually.

                                                        7 Replies
                                                        1. re: AZBconcierge

                                                          you should rent out your living room

                                                          1. re: kindofabigdeal

                                                            that's exactly what i was thinking. $6 bottles of voss and of course, kiltlifter on tap.

                                                            1. re: azhotdish

                                                              and tammy coe ooey gooey cupcakes of course :D

                                                              1. re: winedubar

                                                                if you guys are willing to pay me 6 bucks for a bottle of voss and 4 bucks for a cup from a keg of kiltlifter, im in.

                                                          2. re: AZBconcierge

                                                            I am with you 100%. PB is great, I will not argue, but I am not going to wait three hours for anything, it's just not worth it. I LOVE Cibo, the staff and chef are great, and the service and food are top notch. They have an adorable, yet dingy server there, that will melt your heart.

                                                            Also, I agree it is completely obnoxious that Bianco cannot teach someone how to cook like him. For Christ's sake, we can teach someone to do brain surgery, but not toss a pie? Get real Chris.

                                                            1. re: Max Fischer

                                                              I don't think it's obnoxious. He is fully invested in his art and his restaurants. Trust me, he's turned down offers to franchise. I may not like the wait, but I appreciate the man.

                                                              1. re: Max Fischer

                                                                Brain surgery is a science; you want results that are duplicated across the board. That pizza is an art. The only way that he can make sure that every single pizza that comes out of the place is up to his standard is to make every single one himself. In artistic terms, it's the difference between an original painting and a print.

                                                                He's not alone in that respect. Shinji Kurita once ran hands down THE best sushi place in town, Shinbay. His restaurant was smaller than Bianco's; there were 14 seats at the sushi bar, and six seats at two small tables to the side. Still, it was too many for him. He only served up to six people at a time. If you showed up with four people and there were three already eating, too bad. I have never seen devotion for perfecting one's culinary craft like with Kurita-san, and I doubt that I ever will again. I can't wait until either the people at Autumn Court expand the sushi menu so Kurita-san can show off his prowess, or he opens his own place up again.

                                                                And since I want to avoid a one-line post, I can only say one thing to Themis's post below this one... Brava, brava.

                                                            2. I am actually going to be eating at Bianco's this weekend. We've got tickets to Body Worlds III, after which we're going to walk up and put our names on the list, and spend a relaxed wait in the wine bar, having a couple glasses of something good and talking. And then since we so rarely go and the prices are as good as anywhere; we'll probably order everything. I know there has to be their mozzarella salad and maybe even some spiedini involved; and then a Wiseguy with garlic or a Sonny Boy with anchovies, if I can talk my guy into it.

                                                              I am blissfully happy at the prospect. A real date! With conversation and conviviality! A two hour wait -- with good company and a glass of wine in hand, you can either find that to be insufferably frustrating, or see it as delightful chance to dine and enjoy life without being in such a constant hot fuss to have everything happen now, yesterday, too late! hurryhurryhurry.

                                                              Pizzeria Bianco = excellent pie, carefully crafted, the best ingredients.
                                                              The wait at Bar Bianco, next door = culinary foreplay.

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: themis

                                                                "...Bar Bianco, next door = culinary foreplay"

                                                                At a recent visit to PB I realized it's a sort of culinary S&M... It's really painful to endure the ordeal around the meal, but the meal delivers a lot of pleasure... Which is the only reason I return to that restaurant

                                                                At the end of the day, you're either into the experience or you're not, I guess.

                                                              2. I haven't yet eaten at PB, am hoping too once I can travel more than 15 minutes in a car (knee issues). But let me say that I think the idea of driving from L.A. to PHX just for pizza sounds incredibly fun and memorable and a story you'll tell your kids and grandkids. When I was in college (25 years ago!), I did this kind of thing a few times, and I'm so glad took the opportunity when I was young and crazy enough!

                                                                2 Replies
                                                                1. re: wyf4lyf

                                                                  I live nearby and frequently walk my dog by PB on Saturdays around 4-5pm. It's funny, people think showing up earlier is better. Shoot, the line runs around the corner. That being said, you might as well try it once (I prefer to go later). It is very, very good. It is unlike anything I had ever had.

                                                                  But what is pizza anyway? I have had pizza in Naples and yes, it blew me away, but it is unlike anything I have every eaten before. Super large, super thin crust with a crushed tomato and herb sauce. And slabs of fresh buffalo mozzarella chees. Yum.

                                                                  Worth the drive? Who cares? Sounds like fun. If you want to go to Chicago for their pizza. Instead of the deep dish (Lou Malnatis), try Pizzano's thin BUTTER crust chunky tomato and homemade sausage pizza. Unlike anything I have ever had.

                                                                  Oh and my favorite? Thin crust taco pizza at Happy Joe's back in Iowa. Unlike anything I have ever had.

                                                                  See the theme? Enjoy.

                                                                  1. re: gotdebt

                                                                    I was at PB last month. I loved it. We got there at 3:45 and waited in line. I'm not much at waiting for anything, but it was fun waiting and visiting with the others in line. I considered it part of the experience. It would be a different story if it was 110 degrees, but that day it was only in the 90's, and I'm from Illinois, and that was exactly the kind of temp that I wanted when I was in Az in March. Anyway the pizza was great, the waiters were friendly-in my opinion it was worth the wait. I HAD A GREAT TIME!!!

                                                                2. It's all about the experience. Yes, you will have to wait a while, but go next door to Bar Bianco, share a bottle of wine or two, and relax. The pizza is great, but the real "draw" of Pizzeria Bianco is the ambiance and experience

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: chazzwags

                                                                    I totally agree. I think most people miss the point. To me, a great experience ( whether it be a 20 course dinner at El Bulli or a fantastic pizza at PB ) is worth the wait. I think it's great that I can go down there, get on the list, and then spend some quality time with whomever I choose to go with - whether that be sharing a bottle of wine with a date or telling old stories with my best friend.

                                                                    I may be one of the minority but I like the fact that there is a significant wait when I go to PB. I know that going in so I plan my time around it. No big deal.

                                                                  2. I think that if you have never had terrific authentic brick oven pizza then Bianco can be a mind altering experience. Having said that it really isn't worth the wait if you've been to italy and any authentic pizza. A good alternative which also has an exceptional pie is "Classic Italian Pizza" at NE corner of baseline and rural. Strip mall local and hard to find, so so decor, but terrific pizza. Also Pizza A Metro dangerously close to the west valley is a very solid experience too, very under-rated pastas (read: they are terrific).
                                                                    They thing Bianco has is ambiance which is just about impossible to find in phoenix. If bianco burned down Cibo not that far away could just about serve the patrons with very good pizza and a pretty nice scene without anyone noticing the difference though I am sure some die-hards will disagree with me.
                                                                    If you are willing to drive to phoenix from LA you are much better off making your way up to north beach in SF, you can pick from about 20 places serving very good if not oustanding northern italian made by actual northern italians typically not more than a few weeks or months "off the boat". Try figaro for pastas or "pizza roma" (I think) owned by the same people for pizza, everything is on columbus near vallejo.

                                                                    11 Replies
                                                                    1. re: tetedeveau

                                                                      Perhaps, but what does "authentic pizza" really mean? Ask that in Chicago and they tell you is isn't in Phoenix. Ask that in New York and they tell you it isn't in Chicago. As that in Naples and they tell you it isn't in New York. And so on and so on and so on.

                                                                      I don't really care if Bianco has "authentic" or not. His pizza is still outstanding.

                                                                      1. re: Seth Chadwick

                                                                        Fair enough, I will revise authentic (I meant in the italian/neopolitan context) to mean extremely delicious from a wood fired brick oven in the italian tradition with a thin crust often no "sauce" and fresh cheese/meat/veg. Chicago has great authentic pizza of the deep dish variety I don't think they are too fond of the wood fired brick oven there. Also if I was unclear I meant that Bianco IS delivering an authentic extremely delicious wood fired brick oven pizza I just wouldn't raise it much above some other less flashy local alternatives with zero wait. Like I said before I think Bianco is one of only a very short list of local spots with real "ambiance" and class but its insane waits both reflect and takes away from that.

                                                                        1. re: tetedeveau

                                                                          i don't know what 'insane waits' means, but we dined there friday evening with five in the first seating, with the first in our party arriving at 3:45, a scant 1:15 before we were seated. friday night! i've always taken advantage of the reservation policy in the past, but i wasn't bothered by the wait at all.

                                                                          1. re: azhotdish

                                                                            That's great for you, but most people can't just hang out outside a restaurant at 4:00 in the afternoon. We're at work. Unfortunately I've never eaten at Bianco because I've always been deterred by the wait for a table. As good as I'm sure the pizza is, it's still just pizza, and I can go to Cibo, Grazie or Pizza A Metro and get a meal that's just as good, without the hassle.

                                                                            1. re: ajs228

                                                                              they do take reservations for parties of 6 and larger. its definitely something you should try since you live here. it really is a special place

                                                                              1. re: ajs228

                                                                                That's like saying it's just a steak or it's just sushi or it's just anything. What food it is, isn't the reason Pizzeria Bianco is so good, it is how it is executed. Yes you can get a more convenient dining solution and what style of Pizza you like may guide you to other places.

                                                                                To me your argument would be like saying Barrio cafe is just Mexican food so it can't be that special. It can and it is. PB is the same way. Not saying that your choices may not be better, but discounting this awesome destination because it is just pizza doesn't feel right.

                                                                                Billy Bob

                                                                                1. re: Billy Bob

                                                                                  I'm not discounting it. I readily accept how beloved PB is to a lot of people, and I see it as a point of pride for Phoenix that the restaurant is here. From a cost/benefit standpoint, though, I'm not willing to trade 2 hours of my life for a pizza. I'm impatient. Just my 2 cents.
                                                                                  Man, I just way over analyzed that.

                                                                                  1. re: ajs228

                                                                                    AJ,

                                                                                    I get your angle on not wanting to wait for a meal. I guess I maybe mistakingly derived from your message, that because it was 'just pizza' is why you wouldn't wait. Would you wait two hours to get into Binkley's or Kai? Would you wait two hours to see your favorite artist in concert? Anyway, it's good to discuss different opinions. My problem now is I can only dream of having the opportunity to wait for Chris' magic, since I now live in Seattle and my effort to get his pizza would now be on the lines of an 8 hour wait <grin> (which by the way I am in the stages of planning a trip back and PB will be on the top of the list of destinations)

                                                                                    Billy Bob

                                                                            2. re: tetedeveau

                                                                              I actually find that the wait absolutely adds to my enjoyment, not detracts. I only go once or twice a year on average, but I always round up a few friends, and head down there to arrive right around opening or even a little after--usually the wait is already at its peak of 2-3hrs. Is this discouraging? Not in the least. We always look forward to finding a nice nook in the bar, having a few drinks and ordering a few bites, and just hanging out and talking for a couple of hours. The wait has usually been much less than what we were quoted, and we get a couple of hours to just relax in what's actually one of my favorite bars in town (where else can you find its atmosphere?). We treat it much more as an "event," or plans for the night, as opposed to a place simply to satisfy a craving for some pizza. I don't think my experiences there would be as satisfying without the wait.

                                                                              I can completely understand being outraged and feeling like it's not worth it if your just looking for some great pizza--it's not, and there is plenty of great pizza to be had elsewhere (not quite as good, but still...). It really depends on what you're looking for.

                                                                              1. re: crsin

                                                                                I think one important factor is that once it is warm enough for the outdoor seating that virtually doubles their capacity (though I don't think they actually "seat" many more). I have had a 2.5 hour wait for a party of 2 on a weekday night in the colder season, that was enough for me. I have a brick oven nowadays so TETO. I think the wine bar is great but if I wanted to be at a wine bar I would go to kaz. Grazzi should also be mentioned for having some terrific brick oven pizza from some real italians though the wait staff is on and off.

                                                                                1. re: tetedeveau

                                                                                  Yes, Kaz is great, and FAR more convenient for me if just looking for a wine bar. I wouldn't ever go to PB just for their bar, it is definitely mostly about the food. Just saying their bar makes the wait for the pizza an enjoyable experience.

                                                                        2. Though this thread is over 3 years old (zombies arise!), I will add my comments for the future LA-dwellers, who might have the same, or a really similar question.

                                                                          What I would do is plan a "road trip" to PHX, spend a long weekend here. Work in Pizzaria Bianco, on one of the nights, and also enjoy all that the high Sonoran Desert has to offer. It IS great pizza, and I am not one to wait in line for food. Heck, I make reservations for the upstairs at Galatoire's, though I know that standing in line to dine downstairs is the way it should be. Heck, I'd pick up hitch-hikers on the way from CA, and make reservations at PB's (need six, or did).

                                                                          Now, I'd do a night at NOCA and also Vincent's on Camelback. Throw in a lunch at Tradiciones and Richardson's (Nick's around the corner, if they are busy), and an afternoon stroll at the Desert Botanic Garden. Sneak into the air conditioned Heard Museum and hang out at the pool of my chosen resort with a tall, frosty drink (with/without the umbrella) and contemplate the evening, as the sun sets over the saguaros. Maybe get in a few rounds of golf?

                                                                          Then, when I was done, I'd head back to LA, ready to drop back into my normal life.

                                                                          Things could be worse. "Changes in latitude - changes in attitude... " [maybe a slight paraphrase, and license in geography]

                                                                          Hunt

                                                                          16 Replies
                                                                          1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                            I am afraid I'm exhibiting something of a masochistic streak here by posting once more to this thread and really, I swear, the last thing I want to do is get certain rabid 'Hounds yowling again . . . but I just had a great weekend in Phoenix and I think people who are contemplating a visit to PB should hear how it went down this past Friday night and why I think PB is such a worthwhile food experience . . .

                                                                            Everyone knows the wait is excruciating and, yes, we waited just under two hours - considered madness for many I understand, and not right for many diners in many circumstances. We put our names down, wandered next door to the very charming Bar Bianco (I wish this little house/bar/waiting room was here in L.A.), ordered a Bellenda Prosecco and a Gruner Veltliner, started chating with folks at the bar, and settled in to our evening's entertainment.

                                                                            The wine got to work, and we decided to try the grilled fontina focaccia, delicious served with fat Japanese dill pickles (anyone know what variety they are, exactly?!), and had some cerignola olives before scoring the leather chairs in the living room. By now we were relaxing after a very long day with a second glass of wine - this time a Barbera (I think it was called Fronterra Fredda or something close to it). We flipped through the magazines on offer and strolled around the parklike grounds watching young couples heading to what must have been their prom nearby. We both left a note, as is the utterly delightful custom, in the secret drawer which acts like a little "la bocca della verità" for waiting diners (a pox on the house of any spoilers on this site!). Finally, patience rewarded, we ate and what can I tell you - the pizza was just fantastic. It is arguably the very best in the country. And I know how crazy that sounds to some readers, believe me.

                                                                            I grew up on St. Ronan Street in New Haven, CT. I feel I have a good handle on what makes a great pizza. My family won't go to Pepe's or Sally's (I will - they won't) in favor of Modern. My favorite place in NYC is Patsy's in Harlem. These are my credentials, persented here for those who know what that means, and for those who don't or don't care: heading to Phoenix from L.A. is like taking Metro North to New Haven from Manhattan to get great "abeets" - totally worth it, totally worth the wait, a near religious experience for those with like minds and to heck with anyone who thinks otherwise. A great pizza place is a food temple and Chris - working like a dog all night long making each pie - has built such a place in Arizona. Whaddayagonnado?

                                                                            So come worship or not - we believers feel sorry for you who blaspheme and rail against the one true pie. But, of course, that means the wait is shorter for the rest of us . . .

                                                                            Last note: what we call "the acid test" in my family - the reason we love Modern over Pepe' - it's the leftovers - the pizza is even better in the AM (acid referring to the quality of the tomatoes which reveals itself cold). In my family, the next morning, slices are warmed and topped with crispy sunny side eggs. If you can top Chris' sausage and onion served this way on a sunny sunday morning poolside in Scottsdale then you have a meal I'd like to read about! Thanks, Phoenix - I love ya and will be back soon!

                                                                            1. re: Pigeage

                                                                              Thanks. Great homage to a place I--from Tucson--have not yet been able to enjoy! (I'm 51, been in Tucson since I was 4, and didn't get to the Grand Canyon until I was 30 and on my honeymoon, and truly believe the race belongs to the turtle.) No more waiting, though; Pizzeria Bianco (and NOCA), I'm there this summer!!!

                                                                              1. re: Pigeage

                                                                                Aw. Thanks for the great post. You're making me think about stopping in soon, Chris' antipasto is still one of the better things I have ever eaten.

                                                                                You're warming the pizza in a cast iron skillet, right --? It's the only way.

                                                                                1. re: Pigeage

                                                                                  Thank you for the detailed post.

                                                                                  I, like you, feel that Chris Bianco does a wonderful pizza. I have enjoyed every experience there. I will return, without a doubt.

                                                                                  I may have missed some of the posts, but never recall anyone on this board questioning the greatness of Chris' pies. Just the opposite. Maybe I blanked some off-hand comment, but it had to be very rare.

                                                                                  What some will argue is whether it is worth the effort to them. I ask myself the exact same question. I have never even contemplated having a negative thought about the food. Ain't gonna' happen. Still, given the wait, some folk must make a decision - PB, with the wait, or elsewhere with no wait, and probably an inferior pie.

                                                                                  I have to make the same decision, when we dine at Galatoire's in New Orleans. Downstairs is where the real "tableau" plays out. It is also only available to those, who stand in line and wait. Upstairs (same food, same kitchen, same silverware, wine and napkins, but without the pomp) is available by reservation. Unlike PB, it's not just for parties of 6, or more. Is it worth the wait to dine downstairs? In some cases, the answer for me is yes. Unfortunately on many nights, I just do not have the time, so I'll make the reservations and dine upstairs. Some people love lines and the interaction that these often involve. I do not. Some people have plenty of time on their hands, unfortuantely, I usually do not. I make my choices.

                                                                                  I do not recall anyone commenting that the PB food is enhanced, just by standing in line. Now, the total experience, for some, might be, but the food is the food. If I can gather a group of 6, guess which way I'll go. If I have a free evening and wish to go downtown, I have no problem with your scheme. Those evenings are just flat too few and too far between for me.

                                                                                  I greatly appreciate the review of your evening. I am very glad that PB was as good for you, as it obviously has been in the past. Chris Bianco should be proud that his cuisine has inspired you to travel and to also support his restaurant. Were it my restaurant, I certainly would.

                                                                                  Travel safely, and thank you for visiting the Valley of the Sun.

                                                                                  Hunt

                                                                                2. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                  Ha! I noticed my reply from '06, back when I had a different user name for some unknown reason. I was just there a few months ago - happily waited for 3 hours.

                                                                                  I've changed my slant: Would I wait for hours during the months of October - April? You bet! May - September? Forget it.

                                                                                  1. re: mamamia

                                                                                    Ah, incognito! Now we know. Person of many aliases. Posts onto the Internet. What else should we know? [Grin]

                                                                                    Yeah, sometimes these “zombies” remind us of other times.

                                                                                    Hunt

                                                                                    1. re: Pigeage

                                                                                      Pigeage-I'm pretty sure Bill was just referencing mamamia's comment about having a different username some years ago.

                                                                                      1. re: Pigeage

                                                                                        You might want to read mamamia's post that Bill was responding to. Bill was not talking about the restaurant.

                                                                                        1. re: Pigeage

                                                                                          zombies = resurrected old thread

                                                                                          This thread had been dormant for nearly two years until a post by tetedeveau brought it back to life.

                                                                                          1. re: silverbear

                                                                                            It looks like three folk got my comment. They win whatever prize is being offered. That is exactly what I meant.

                                                                                            No negativity towards the restaurant, which I love, or to any of the posters in this thread. That is never my intention. Chowhound is a forum for civil discourse on dining, and the like. I enjoy restaurant A, but had a bad experience at restaurant B. You love restaurant B, but hate restaurant A. That does not make either of us wrong, or either of us right. Based on our personal experiences, we just had vastly different experiences.

                                                                                            Sorry for any misunderstandings here. I take full responsibility for not defining terms more closely.

                                                                                            Hunt

                                                                                          2. re: Pigeage

                                                                                            Sorry, but I think that I lost you here. "Zombies" are threads, long thought dead, that "arise," when someone finds them years later.

                                                                                            This often happens with requests for a person asking for recs. for a wedding reception in 2002. All of a sudden, their post is revived, when someone finds it and adds, "you must go to ____." I often wonder if the couple is still together.

                                                                                            The term has noting to do with the posters, and only to do with the age of the thread, to which they are posting.

                                                                                            Sometimes, this thread still has much merit, as in the case of PB. Yeah, the OP was contemplating a drive to PHX in 2006. My guess would be that they decided to do it, or not. Their window of opportunity has probably long since passed. Now, they could still be contemplating such a trip, waiting for other CH's to weigh-in, but I kinda' doubt it. I'd anticipate that the decision was made, long ago.

                                                                                            Still, discussion of PB is still relevant, though not so much to the OP. That is the use of the term "zombies" here - something that is very dated and from the distant past.

                                                                                            Like I said, some of these threads have as much relevance today, as they might have, when originally posted. One similar thread on "What are the most over-rated restaurants in NOLA," was started before this one. Still, the discussion has much merit. IIRC, that thread was started well pre-Katrina. Some of the restaurants mentioned did not survive the hurricane and flooding. Hence, some of the early references are moot now - they do not exist any longer, "over rated," or not. Still, viable discussion is on-going with current (Spring of 2009) discussion.

                                                                                            See what I mean?

                                                                                            As far as being "enemies," that thought is far from my mind. We both agree - PB is great! No doubt, in MY mind. Is it worth the probable wait? That is a personal decision. Considering my "free time," I'd rather gather 5 other, like-minded pizza fans, and do reservations. Though I have always done the reservations thing, I'd wager that the pizza is the same, as for one, who has stood in line for hours.

                                                                                            Nah, you are "preaching to the choir," with regards to the great quality of PB. We're on the same page there. Now, the only difference of opinion is what is the best way to experience it. For me, it is unfortunately, the reservation for 6+ route. It is not that I am a Visagoth, or something, only that my time is well-spoken for, months in advance. Nothing more. May have been up-thread here, or in another, similar post, but I dine upstairs at Galatorie's in New Orleans, because of time constraints. Yes, downstairs is "where the action is," but I love Galatoire's and will take upstairs vs nothing.

                                                                                            Sorry to have confused. That was never my intent.

                                                                                            Hunt

                                                                                            1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                              Hunt, the rest of us understood you just fine. Love your posts!

                                                                                              1. re: Claudette

                                                                                                Thank you. I was starting to wonder.

                                                                                                As for PB, I've really loved it. As for standing in line for hours, well, I'd opt for elsewhere, until I had a party of six. Am I in the majority? Does not appear so. Am I correct to do this? In my case it makes perfect sense.

                                                                                                Hunt

                                                                                                1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                  A couple weeks ago, on our way from LA to Tucson, we stopped in at PB. It would be our second time eating here. This time, we made sure to go on a day without a D-Backs game. We arrived around 3:45 and were about 10th in line. We were relieved because we knew that we would be part of the 1st seating, unlike our previous trip.
                                                                                                  I'm impatient and I don't like lines. PB is not your ordinary line. We sat on a bench and waited for 15 minutes for Bar Bianco to open. This was the only difficult part. Once the bar opened, at 4p, everyone took note of their place in line and passed the time as they wished. My girlfriend and I ordered a couple of pints and headed outside onto the great old fashioned shaded porch. The weather was perfect--about 85 degrees and slightly tropical with a breeze--my pale ale was delicious, and we had a splendid time drinking beers and playing cards in the 2 comfortable chairs outside the bar window. The time flew by and I was almost sad when 5p rolled around and we had to give up our prime real estate.
                                                                                                  We ordered 3 pizzas--Sonny Boy, Rosa with fennel sausage, and Marguerita with prosciutto. The pizzas were great. If I had to pick nits, I would say that the fennel sausage had a caraway flavour that I didn't recall from before. Caraway seed is really strong and it took away from the fennel. The sonny boy remains my favourite pizza. The olives really make it for me. I liked the prosciutto but would've preferred that it had been crisped a bit in the oven with some of its fat melting into the pizza--like how the salame renders some of its fat on the sonny boy.
                                                                                                  The crusts were perfectly charred with just the right amount of chew.

                                                                                                  In summary, I won't make a trip from LA to PHX just for PB. I'm lucky to have Pizzeria Mozza in LA when i need a similar fix. The crust isn't as good as PB but I do think the sausage and salame are better at PM. Everything else at PB is better, but PM is a heckuva lot more convenient.

                                                                                                  1. re: Wolfgang

                                                                                                    Sounds like a lovely evening. Thank you for reporting. I do not know Pizzeria Mozza, but the next time in LA, I'll go my best to get by.

                                                                                                    Hunt

                                                                                                    1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                      At Pizzeria Mozza, make sure to try the egg and guanciale pizza.

                                                                                      2. Any recommendations for this vegetarian? I've never been nor glanced at the menu. Is there a vegetarian pizza at PB? If not, what should I get? I love any and all vegetables, just not broccoli on pizza.

                                                                                        4 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: ginael

                                                                                          4 of the 6 featured pies are meatless and 1 of those is even cheeseless.

                                                                                          http://www.pizzeriabianco.com/menu.html

                                                                                          -----
                                                                                          Pizzeria Bianco
                                                                                          623 E Adams St, Phoenix, AZ 85004

                                                                                          1. re: hohokam

                                                                                            Thank you. I was feeling too indolent to actually look at the menu online. Sad statement, I know.
                                                                                            Can't wait to actually try this place next time I'm in the Valley.

                                                                                            1. re: hohokam

                                                                                              I'm not a vegetarian but don't have to have meat. The Rosa is my favorite pizza (or white pizza) of all time.

                                                                                              1. re: AguasFrescas

                                                                                                Thanks, Aguas. I'm not a huge fan of white pizza, but Rosa sounds damn tasty.