Author Topic: Pizzeria Bianco - Phoenix, AZ  (Read 15173 times)

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Offline BradLovesPizza

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Pizzeria Bianco - Phoenix, AZ
« on: April 04, 2005, 10:03:33 AM »
I had an opportunity to visit Pizzeria Bianco in Phoenix AZ last week. I was very impressed.

Showed up at 8pm on a Wednesday night. They were able to seat me at the bar at 9pm. This is a very popular restaurant. They regularly have 100 people waiting when the doors open at 5pm they say. Supposedly this restaurant has been featured on food network, and in lots of food magazines.

It is a small restaurant. The patron area is probably 40'x40'. A quarter of this is taken up by the wood fired oven, a quarter by the bar, and the remainder is regular tables.

Ordered a salad. It was just greens and an oil-based dressing. The greens were 2 kinds of leaf lettcuce that I've never had before.  Salad was very good - though not what I'm used to.

Ok, the pizza. They have 6 pizzas available. I told them I like lots of toppings, so they suggested I get the magarita (sp?) and add toppings allacarte. I asked if they had pepperoni, and they instead said they used salami. I wasn't too sure about this after not liking salami on a pizza I made earlier in the week, but went ahead with it. I also asked for sausage and mushrooms.  Sausage, Pepperoni (or now Salami) ,Mushrooms has always been a good combo for me.
There were two people making pizzas that night. I'm assuming one of them was the owner. He looked very famous chef-like.

The dough. Each pizza appeared to get the same dough. It seemed to be a bit whiter than dough that I'm used to. They would shape it a bit, and gently toss it in the air a couple times. From the distance I was sitting, it appeared that they were tossing a white dish rag. I would guess in the center of the dough was only 1/16 of an inch or so.

The pizza was placed in the oven - before doing so, he would blow some air under it. I'm guessing it was only in there 4-5 minutes. Before taking each pizza out, they would raise it about a foot in the air inside the oven. I'm guessing to get some of the wood smoke into it - or maybe dry out the bottom.

I really enjoyed the pizza. The salami was somewhat irregularly cut in about 2" by 2" squared, and cut thinner than most pepperoni I'm used to. Unlike the salami I got at kroger - which seemed purplish, this was more reddish - like pepperoni. The sausage was a 1 1/4" link-style sausage cut in slices at a 45 degree angles about 1/4 inch thich. It was a white sausage not strong in flavor - was very good! Boy do I wish I knew where he gets these ingredients Mushrooms didn't appear to be anything special. They were good. Smallish. Cut in 1/8" slices.

I can't believe it, but I don't even recall the sauce. The all-important sauce! I'm guessing there wasn't much on there.

Crust turned out to be lightly crispy on the outside. The inside was not chewy, but not too doughy either.

I hope to go back some day. Highly recommended - but you should plan on getting there late in the evening if - like me- you don't like waiting in line more than you need to.

Would be glad to respond to any questions.

Brad


Offline Pete-zza

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Re: Pizzeria Bianco - Phoenix, AZ
« Reply #1 on: April 04, 2005, 12:01:03 PM »
Brad,

That's a great report, Thank you.

It's still a mystery what goes into the Bianco dough. At first, a flour from Giusto's in CA was mentioned (by Peter Reinhart), and then it was a bread flour (also by Peter Reinhart), and then it was a mixture of flours. The latter possibility came from Marco Bianco, the brother of Chris Bianco, with whom I spoke last year and reported at Reply #90 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=389.msg4401#msg4401. Many reports also say that the dough is kneaded entirely by hand (in a very big bowl), which, it would seem, would be very difficult if not impossible to do with strong flours. I am told by an importer/distributor of the Caputo 00 flour that the Biancos are not using an imported  00 flour, possibly to be free of foreign sources.

Peter

Offline pftaylor

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Re: Pizzeria Bianco - Phoenix, AZ
« Reply #2 on: April 05, 2005, 09:56:32 AM »
Bradlovespizza,
Thanks for the review. I wonder though how you would rate it against your all-time favorite pie?

Also, could you describe about how many tables Chris had in his restaurant. I'm trying to imagine such a small space in my mind. 20 - 25, maybe 30 tops. No wonder people are standing outside in the heat of AZ. a total of 40x40 doesn't leave a lot of room.
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Offline Pete-zza

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Re: Pizzeria Bianco - Phoenix, AZ
« Reply #3 on: April 05, 2005, 11:31:52 AM »
pft,

A while back I did a Google photo search on Pizzeria Bianco and came up with a few photos, at http://www.thurrott.com/2004/04/phoenix-09/. The last (bottom) photo is one of a typical pizza.

Peter

Offline pftaylor

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Re: Pizzeria Bianco - Phoenix, AZ
« Reply #4 on: April 06, 2005, 06:44:59 PM »
Pete-zza,
Don't you wish there were restaurants like Chris Bianco's around the corner from our houses? Here in Florida we are inundated with chains. I suppose they serve a purpose but in the world of pizza I can only think of 3-4 places I'd like to have in my neighborhood.
Il Pizzaiolo
Una Pizza Napoletana
Al Forno
Pizzeria Bianco

And since I'm dreaming I wouldn't mind having neighbors like pizzanapoletana, dinks, quidoPizza, bakerboy, etc. Talk about a lack of diversity. Hey Pete, what are we having for our neighborhood cookout?

Pizza! What else?
« Last Edit: April 06, 2005, 09:53:33 PM by pftaylor »
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Offline BradLovesPizza

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Re: Pizzeria Bianco - Phoenix, AZ
« Reply #5 on: April 07, 2005, 08:31:57 AM »
pft,

The pictures Peter linked to do a good job of showing how small the place is. I could guess that maybe 10 family sized tables, and 6-8 couple size tables. About 10 seats at the bar - that's it. Of course, people also eat outside a bit. It's pretty funny that when I was there, that same white scooter was parked outside. Must belong to someone who works there.

I'll try to rate this compared to my favorite pie. Understand though that I'm very inexperienced in the pizza tasting world.  At one time my favorite was the Noble Roman's Deep Dish Sicilian with those big dollops of tomato sauce on top every slice. Unfortunately, Noble Roman's is no onger noble. It's barely edible and most restaurants no longer exist.

I also shamefully admit that I really like Donato's pepperoni pizza when I'm in a junk food mood.

But I thought my all-time favorite has to be the Greek's Special from Greek's pizza here in Fishers, IN where I live. I went back and had some this past weekend, and well, it no longer tastes as good to me anymore. Very greasy. I think it was mostly the cheese I was disappointed in. After reading some other articles on here. It seems the cheese is the big $ place to make shortcuts.

So, I would have to say the Bianco pizza is my favorite by far. It's hard to describe, but there isn't that greasy pizza look to it (though I'm sure there's plenty of grease there!). The salami is just dry and crispy. Down at the crust level - the top of the crust looks wet as if it is greasy, but it isn't yellowish greasy, but more clear - like water. The ingredients are just fresh and work very well together.

It looks like I may get an opportunity to go back later this month for work. Let me know if you have further questions, and I'll try to answer them.

Brad

Offline pftaylor

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Re: Pizzeria Bianco - Phoenix, AZ
« Reply #6 on: April 07, 2005, 10:50:04 AM »
Thanks for the follow-up.

Although I have not been to Pizzeria Bianco I travel to Phoenix once or twice a year. I intend, on my next trip to the desert, to hit Grimaldi's for lunch and Bianco's for dinner. If you like coal-fired pizza that may be a plan worth adopting. Just to compare the two.

I do have one favor to ask. Bring a camera and take a load of pictures.
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Offline D.C. Pizza Master

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Re: Pizzeria Bianco - Phoenix, AZ
« Reply #7 on: April 07, 2005, 03:14:00 PM »
i would like to try their pizzas to see whats going on over there..maybe a road trip

Robert

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Re: Pizzeria Bianco - Phoenix, AZ
« Reply #8 on: April 16, 2005, 08:07:53 PM »
Brad,

I can't address where Chris gets all of his ingredients, but the sausages and salami come from a local sausage shop called Schreiner's Fine Sausage.

Chris also hand makes his own mozarella and grows his own herbs for both Pizzaria Bianco and Pane Bianco, his sandwich restaurant.

As far as his actual pizza dough recipe, I found a recipe once on the web that was submitted to epicurious magazine by Chris.  I use the recipe regularly, and while I don't think it is exactly the same one he uses at the restaurant, it's pretty darn close.

The recipe can be found at http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/recipe_views/printer_friendly/230788

Now if I could only find a recipe for that tomato sauce...

Robert

Offline BradLovesPizza

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Re: Pizzeria Bianco - Phoenix, AZ
« Reply #9 on: April 21, 2005, 10:13:45 PM »
Robert,

Wow, thank you for the dough recipe link. I may have to give it a try - though I'm tempted to try it with KASL flour since it seemed to be the flour of the month when I ordered 10 pounds of it last month.  :)

I actually live in Indy so I'm going to have to scope out my own local preium sausage place I guess. A little more google-ing came up with the Bianco sausage being "fennel" sausage. Isn't that a very commonly used sausage ingredient though (fennel seeds)?

I'm heading back out to Phoenix for probably the last time on this business project next week. I'll try to take some pictures if I can get to Pizzeria Bianco.

Brad


Offline tonymark

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Re: Pizzeria Bianco - Phoenix, AZ
« Reply #10 on: June 23, 2006, 03:36:47 PM »
The recipe can be found at http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/recipe_views/printer_friendly/230788



I read the Chris Bianco article and immediately started brainstorming a new wood oven idea ... OT

Did anyone ever read the original article from Gourmet magazine OCT 99?

Here is what "Galileo" has to say about the article.   
(Galileo is a good way to do research for full text articles from magazines: an initiative of the University system of Georgia.  Unfortunately Gourmet does not provide the article to the database).

Title:   Gourmet Every Day.
Source:   Gourmet; Oct99, Vol. 49 Issue 10, p228, 9p, 3c
Document Type:   Article
Subject Terms:   COOKERY
COOKERY (Pork)
PIZZA
NISCHAN, Michel
BIANCO, Chris
Abstract:   Discusses the preparation of several recipes by Chris Bianco and Michel Nischan. Pizza with montasio cheese, prosciutto cotto, Bosc pear and arugula; Pork tenderloin, roasted root vegetables and wild green salad with beet and fennel syrups.
ISSN:   0017-2553
Accession Number:   2316403


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Offline fliplap

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Re: Pizzeria Bianco - Phoenix, AZ
« Reply #11 on: July 12, 2006, 12:18:52 AM »
Oh good, I'm not the only one bringing this back from the dead.

Robert: About Bianco's sauce. Far as I can tell, it's tomatos. Just tomatos. Maybe alittle salt. I sat there for at least 2 or 3 minutes just tasting the sauce and couldn't pull out any flavors besides tomato and more tomato.

Also, Here is the review I just finished writing over at eGullet. Cross posted for the non-eGulleters.

---------------------------------------------------

I just finished dinner at Pizzeria Bianco, so if this review is overly positive, and I don't think it is, it is because I'm still high on the food. I'm going to attempt to be complete here, feel free to skim.

Pre-Game
We arrived at Pizzeria Bianco at 4:45pm and there was already about 20 people sitting outside, in 110 degree heat, on a Tuesday. I can't imagine how many are gathered on a saturday evening in the fall. Despite the heat the wait was not all that bad. There is ample seating and by this time in the day there is plenty of shade afforded by the small surrounding trees.

The other relief from the heat is Bar Bianco next door. Bar Bianco opens a 4pm and allows patrons to bring their beer outside while they wait for the pizzeria to open. There are 2 beers on tap at the bar: Four Peak's "Hop Knot" and something called a "Cream Ale". I've had the Four Peaks "Hop Knot" before, at the Four Peaks brewery/restaurant. As you might guess its very hoppy, it is golden in color and has a lot more alcohol than you might expect from it. I was only inside Bar Bianco for a moment since the pizzeria was opening in about 5 minutes. I figured on ordering the Cream Ale once seated.

Around 4:55pm a line began forming. At 5:05pm the door was opened. Pizzeria Bianco only accepts reservations for parties of 6-10 and there was a party of 10 with a reservation right at 5pm. Bianco's is only a 40 odd seat place and this party had consumed 1/4 of it. My guest and I were seated promptly, as was everyone else. The space is small enough that the host does not so much seat you, as generaly describes the area she wishes you to sit in, the rest is up to you.

Once Inside
Upon sitting  I took a survey of the restaurant. Towards the front is a small 6-8 seat bar. Directly next to that is the open kitchen with a large cylindrical brick oven. A quick guess says it could hold 3 (MAYBE 4) pies if you're real good at managing them. The kitchen is surrounded by a counter which often sees patrons leaning against it talking to Bianco while he stretches dough.

Back to beer. Unfortunatly the Cream Ale is not available in the pizzeria. The only beer available on tap in Pizzeria Bianco is Four Peaks "Fools Gold", which I've also had before, and quite enjoy. A light gold color with a fruity aroma and a lingering head.

Five or so minutes after being seated our server brought us a small plate of sliced bread and a dish of olive oil. The bread was wonderfully crusty on the outside with a airy, chewy crumb on the inside.  A few minutes later we ordered the Antipasto and the Margherita pizza. Now, I'm a firm believer in judging a pizza place on its margherita, however I'd just heard too much about the fennel sausage to pass it up, so I had them add it.

The Main Attraction(s)
The antipasto arrived within 5 or 10 minutes, I wasn't paying much attention to the clock as I was enjoying my beer. The menu has described it as wood roasted vegetables, sopressata and a bite of cheese, and thats exactly what it was, and it was amazing. On the rather generously sized plate were mushrooms, carrots, zuchinni and tomatos, all roasted. Accompanying them were 4 perfectly thin slices of sopressata, a type of dry italian salami, and 2 thick wedges of a cheese that I judged to be Asiago Fresco. But the real star of the plate was the roasted eggplant parmesan. I would happily pay for an entire plate of it. It could possibly be the absolute best eggplant parmesan I've ever had in my life. It melted on the tongue and filled my head with oil and cheese and a seductive roasted flavor that I can't stop thinking about. I'm not sure if its always on there, but ask if it is, and for the love of food, order the Antipasto!

A few minutes later our pizza arrived. Perhaps 13" in diameter with black char markes on the entire crust. Topped minimally with tomato sauce, basil and mozzerella but with a good amount of thick, bias cut fennel sausage. If the sheer fresh taste doesn't immediately grab you, the smokey, crunchy, chewy crust will. The crust is so so good I wish I could order it as a topping. I quickly consumed 2 of the 3 slices that comprised my half of the pie.

However on the third slice I was careful to evaluate the merits of the individual ingredients. The fennel in the sausage is not as apparent when masked by the sauce and cheese, but when removed from the slice and taken in small bites it really come through. I'm not a huge fennel fan, but it was quite good. I believe Bianco sources his sausage from a local place called Schreiner's Fine Sausage. This likely where the salami on the antipasto plate is sourced as well.

The cheese is fresh mozzerella that, rumor has it, Bianco makes himself. Alledgedly the basil is also grown by Bianco for use at the pizzeria as well as Pane Bianco. The sauce I contemplated for some time. As far as I can tell, it is tomatos. Just tomatos. I couldn't find any other flavors in it, no bits of garlic, traces of basil or red pepper, just tomatos.

The bill came to $37 after tax and tip. It included a pint of beer ($3.75) and an iced tea ($1.50) as well as the antipasto ($11) and a pizza margherita ($10) with sausage ($3).

Thats a Wrap
As I left I received a brief "Thank You" from Mr Bianco. When it is said that Christopher Bianco lays a hand on every pizza, it is a gross understatement. I watched him toss out pie after pie. I didn't see a single other person touch the pizza before it entered the oven. There is no man in that kitchen, there exists only a pizza tossing machine with the model name "Bianco", programmed to make the best pizza you'll find outside of Italy.
« Last Edit: July 12, 2006, 10:21:06 AM by fliplap »