Thursday, October 18, 2007

Pizzeria Bianco

After weeks of planning, first to find enough people to be able to make reservation to bypass the famous "2-hour wait" and then to set a day, we finally made it to Pizzeria Bianco last night. Tara an I met up with our Chowhound friends Winedubar, AZHotdish, and Seth. AZHotdish brought his girlfriend A and Seth apparently brought two of the Seth-clones he keeps in the basement, Seth-D and Seth-N. Tara and I arrived about 7 minutes past our 6:30 reservation time, but the others had checked-in, so all was well. We made the introductions for those who didn't know each other yet and after about 5 or 10 minutes of chatting, a hostess called our group in to eat. Sure beat waiting two hours.

We were seated in the very back of the restaurant at three two-tops with eight place settings. Given that at least four of us equaled the space of six people, it was a tight fit. We made do though. A party of nine was seated just behind us. I sat on the outside end, Seth, N, and D took the left side, Tara, AZHd, A took the right, with Winedubar in the inside end.

Our waiter came over and verbally harassed Seth. Apparently on all three of Seth's visits, he's had this same waiter. He took our drink orders, several iced teas, a Coke, a Bubble-Up, and iced water rounding it out. A few minutes later, the drinks arrived and somehow we ended up with nine glasses of water in addition to the drinks.

Our waiter explained the menu to us. He pointed out the pizzas that didn't have any red sauce, gave us the rundown on the Farmer's Market salad of the night (fennel, pomegranate, candied walnuts, and apples) and said that the antipastos were enough for two to share. We ordered, in no order, three Wiseguys, two Rosa, one Biancoverde, one Margherita, and possibly a Sonny Boy. Two antipastos, and two Farmer's Market salads rounded out the order.

Tara and I split one of the Farmer's Market salads. We really enjoyed it. Everything was very fresh and the dressing wasn't overly sweet. Seth had the other one and liked it as well. He said it was slightly different than the last one he'd had there, but like it better because it wasn't as sweet.

A while later the pizzas started arriving. I got one of the Wiseguys (Wood Roasted Onion, House Smoked Mozzarella, Fennel Sausage) and Tara got a Rosa (Red Onion, Parmigiano Reggiano, Rosemary, AZ Pistachios). I loved the sausage. It reminded me of the house-made sausage at the restaurant my sister works at back home in Maine. The mozzarella was heavenly as well. I liked the crust, but it seemed to be a bit more charred than the other pizza I tried, Tara's Rosa. It still was good, but Tara's crust was better. The thin crust was also a bit overwhelmed by the relatively substantial weight of the sausage slices. They are very generous with it and it's not really a complaint. I took about half of the pizza home and the crust had firmed up so it held the sausage without collapsing.

In fact, I actually preferred Tara's pizza. The Parmigiano Reggiano was perfectly browned and had an amazing flavor. It was a much sharper flavor than the sausage on mine. Her crust seemed to be a bit more moist and fluffy since it seemed to have taken less heat. The flavor combination just hit the spot, and that pizza was finished in short order.

Seth was in love with his Biancoverde (Fresh Mozzarella, Parmigiano Reggiano, Ricotta, Arugula), mostly due to what appears to be a very unhealthy love for arugula. I'm fairly certain counseling or at least an intervention is called for. He offered a slice, but I'm not an arugula fan, the disclosure of which almost cost me a limb.

It was hard to communicate the entire length of the table, but the general impression was that everyone loved their meals. D and N were both Bianco virgins like us, and from what I gathered, had no complaints. There was a lot of slice trading going on at that end as well.

Service was very attentive. Water and iced tea glasses were filled on a regular basis. Someone dropped a fork and before they'd picked it up, a waitress was on her way over with a new one before she knew who actually needed it. Given that the restaurant is always packed, such attentiveness is nothing short of amazing.

Is Pizzeria Bianco the end-all, be-all of pizza? Probably not. Worth a two-hour wait? I wouldn't. It's definitely some outstanding pizza, and I'll be back. The way to go is to get a group together and make reservations. We were in and out in under two hours.

A note on parking: If you park in the garage at Monroe and 5th Street, they will validate your parking slip so you'll only pay one dollar for parking. We parked on the first level and it was a two minute walk to the restaurant.


Geggie said...

I'm so sad that I missed this gathering. We had a great time at the first Chowhound gathering in October last year.

Can we organize one for the holiday time when I'm back in Phoenix for two weeks?

Tara said...

I saw on your blog, geggie, that you were going to be in Phoenix for the holidays, so I was going to suggest a gathering!

Tim forgot to mention that when azhotdish's iced tea came out, there was lipstick on the glass that definitely wasn't his. It didn't match his outfit at all. :) They replaced the glass with no problem. That was the only real "glitch" with service and it was remedied immediately.

Geggie said...

Lipstick on glasses really doesn't bother me too much. Heck, it happens in my own dishwaser alot (of course, that's MY lipstick!)

nickelsalsa said...

Just wondering, how many people needed for a reservation? I have everything from only 4, to an 8 person minimum. The 2 hour wait has also kept my girlfriend and I from trying this place.

Yankee1969 said...

They take reservations for parties of 6-10 people.