Many have claimed that Pizzeria Bianco serves the best pizza in the land. As it’s also been one of the most difficult restaurants in which to secure a table, for years we’d been unable to see for ourselves what all the commotion is about. Things have changed. Hours have been expanded to cover midday, and Chris Bianco opened a second restaurant in Phoenix, and a third in Tucson, so that it is now possible to join in the fun without enduring an hours-long wait in the Arizona desert sun.
After you’re seated notice the basket of scorched country loaves resting on a counter. These breads are extraordinary, made from the same dough that supports the pies, moist within and crackling without. But you can’t buy any! Slices are served with antipasto or salad orders, and the bread is so good that we’d recommend ordering a starter just to obtain your bread allotment, although the starters are worth ordering in their own right. Everything depends on quality ingredients, locally produced in many cases, simply prepared. The antipasto (evenings only) is spectacular, combining a selection of roasted vegetables, some cheese, and locally made sopressata, and don’t miss the spiedini skewers, slender tubes of prosciutto di Parma wrapped around fontina (the good stuff, from Italy), and given some exposure to the wood fire to potentiate the flavors.
But lets face it, you’re really here for the pizza. There are six pies on the menu. We’ve sampled four of them, and they are all thoughtfully constructed on that amazing pizza crust, which emerges from the oven scented with wood smoke. The most unusual of the pizza selections is the one they call Rosa, which tops red onion and Reggiano with a sprinkle of rosemary and a scattering of Arizona-grown pistachios. It works. The classic Margherita is perfect. The Wiseguy features smoke not only from the oven’s effect on the pie, but also from the wood-roasted onions and house-smoked house-made mozzarella. Locally made fennel sausage also plays along.
Unlike most pizza joints run by perfectionist obsessives (we’re looking at you, Anthony Mangieri), Chris Bianco’s place is actually most welcoming and eager to please. While it’s easier to get seated than ever before, particularly if you arrive during the day, you are still likely to wait for an evening pizza feast. There is a bar next door, called Bar Bianco, that serves as the pizzeria’s waiting room.
So… is it the best pizza in America? Ridiculous question. Depends on what you feel like eating at that moment, your mood, and a zillion other things. We will say that it is among the top tier of pizzerias in the country, and we can imagine that there will be times when we crave the pies of Chris Bianco above all others.623 East Adams Street Phoenix AZ 85004 602-258-8300 Pizzeria Bianco’s Website Pizzeria Bianco on Facebook