Finally! Pizzeria Bianco

by Bryan

We’ll tackle the Pats tomorrow. First, a Pizzerio Bianco update.

I have previously written about how I planned the first leg of my Thanksgiving trip around a trip to Pizzeria Bianco. This was my fourth attempt at getting into the famed pizzeria and my first successful one. Steven, Grant and I left directly from Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport (A very strange name for an airport, if you think about it. Sky Harbor?) and got there at 3:45, 75 minutes before it opened. We were the first people in line.

Let me rephrase that. I was the first person in line.

By the time the restaurant opened, there were probably 100 people waiting, and there’s room for about 60, tops. Bar Bianco, located next door, opens at 4 p.m. and I had a great beer: Hop Knot IPA from the Arizona-based Four Peaks Brewing Company.

But that’s not all that important.

We weren’t actually the first people to be seated — a group of 7 had made a reservation — but I made sure to toe-tap just inside the door to be the “first person through.” There were seven of us, as well, so we ordered all six of Chris Bianco’s specialty pizzas. They are the only six on the menu. They are:

MARGHERITA – Tomato Sauce, Fresh Mozzarella, Basil
MARINARA – Tomato Sauce, Oregano, Garlic (No Cheese)
ROSA – Red Onion, Parmigiano Reggiano, Rosemary, AZ Pistachios
SONNY BOY – Tomato Sauce, Fresh Mozzarella, Salami, Gaeta Olives
BIANCOVERDE – Fresh Mozzarella, Parmigiano Reggiano, Ricotta, Arugula
WISEGUY – Wood Roasted Onion, House Smoked Mozzarella, Fennel Sausage

I found them to be divided into two categories. The Margherita, Marinana and Wiseguy were merely “quite good,” but as my brother Steven pointed out, the Margherita was bested by, among others, Domenic DeMarco of DiFara in Brooklyn, where we famously waited for three hours one winter’s day last year. That day, the pizza was merely “very good,” on one of my two other trips, I had the best single pizza I have ever had, and it was sans toppings.

Chris Bianco is the upscale, Phoenix-based DeMarco — he makes every pizza himself, in front of a restaurant, as opposed to DiFara’s counter. But where DeMarco excels in the cheese-and-oil areas, Bianco has mastered his toppings on the Biancoverde, Sonny Boy and Rosa. Neither the Biancoverde nor the Rosa has sauce, but the cheeses make up for the lack of tomatoes, and the Sonny Boy is just about the best sauce-and-toppings pizza I’ve ever had. These pies are all absolutely superb, but The Rosa is the best. The Biancoverde doesn’t look all that appetizing — it looks like a bunch of clovers fell on a cheese pizza — but it is a great change-up from the others and can hold its own thanks to the ricotta. The Sonny Boy I’ve talked about. The Rosa I can’t even say much about except that it is the second-greatest pizza I’ve ever had, second only to the single DiFara Pie described above. It’s just exquisite.

Bianco’s strength, or at least one of them, is his ability to churn out perfect, homemade crusts every time, and that was on display here. Not all DiFara pies are created equal: DeMarco is moving slowly enough that sometimes he doesn’t properly rotate the four or five pizzas he has going at once. Bianco worked quickly but perfectly. Every pie was perfectly cooked, exquisite. On the way out, we all thanked him, and though he’s from Brooklyn I gave him a “Queens, baby!” to which he responded “Yeah, baby!” Good times, especially when Thanksgiving is the next day. This is why we live, folks.

And, without further ado, The Rosa: