Author Topic: Jackie Tran's review of Pizzeria Bianco - Part Deux  (Read 5654 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline Jackie Tran

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 6984
  • Location: Albuquerque NM
Jackie Tran's review of Pizzeria Bianco - Part Deux
« on: February 11, 2011, 03:10:52 AM »
Pizzeria Bianco Ė part one here at reply #99

http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,3654.80.html

Well I finally made it back to Biancoís and got to eat the pizza this time.  :-D  The last time I was there, it was during their annual vacation and I got to meet and chat with Chris but didnít get to taste the pizza.

I wanted to show up at 3:30pm for the 5 oíclock opening but did not account for rush hour traffic.  That put us there at 4pm.  There was about 25-30 people waiting outside already.   Luckily itís winter there now so the temp was about 65F or so and sunny.   I asked a few folks where the line was and promptly took my place.  While in line, I made small talk with one of the regulars about pizza and it turns out that he too is a pizza fanatic.  He travels from Vegas to Phoenix on occasion and makes sure to give Biancoís a visit each time.   Chatting pizza with my new acquintance made the hour wait go by pretty quick.   He told me that they can seat between 40-45 people at one time and then the others would have to wait until people leave.   Well I was for sure in the first group so I was happy about that.   

Just as the doors opened, the hostess said loudly, ď_______,Party of 8 your table is ready!Ē  Apparently some folks had made reservations months in advance.  Parties have to be at least 8 ppl and they are booked 2-3 months out.   Well after a few minutes, a couple of cabs pulled up and out came about 8 ppl dressed in business attire with their brief cases, some with their carry on luggage.  :o Apparently these ppl had just gotten off the plane and barely made it.   After they made their way through the crowd and into the restaurant, others were let in and seated.   Just as we made our way to the front, the hostess said, okay weíre full, so Iíll have to shut the front door. :( She took our name and told us it would be about an hour plus wait!  Darn that party of 8!  :-D

After about 10 minutes or so, out comes the maitre dí.  Frank, introduces himself and proceeds to explain to crowd what Biancoís is all about.  Fresh local ingredients, dough made fresh daily, etc.  He recommends the Margherita saying that it is the most widely photograph pizza.  Pointing to the sky, he said that if you see aliens descending on Phoenix, they are coming for the pizza.  Frank is a funny guy.  He also mentions that if we wanted, we could go over to Pan Bianco, Chris' bar next door and have drinks while we wait.    Taking his suggestion, I decided to check it out and then walked around the building to see if I can see the fresh herbs.  

As I walked around the back of the building I spotted Chris but heís on the phone.  He sees me but I donít think he recognizes me from our first visit.  Not wanting to bother him, I continue walking back around to the front to chat with my father in law.   After awhile, I see Chris in and out of the restaurant chatting with his staff.   Last time I spoke with Horrachio (one of his pizza makers), I was told that Chris hasnít been making pizza the last couple of years because of health reasons. 

It is now 30min into the wait and Iím getting bored.  I decided that I would like to watch the guys make pizza and maybe time a few bakes just to kill some time.  I asked the hostess if that would be okay and promise I wouldnít get in the way of the staff.  She said yes and directed me to a spot right in front of the guys making pizza.  There are 3 guys.   One to open the dough, one to dress the pies, and a third to bake them.   Just as I made it to my spot, I turned to my left and who do I see?  Itís the Man himself!   I really wasnít expecting to see him this time or get to chat with him again, but just in case I did, I had questions ready for him.   I re-introduced myself but I can tell Chris doesnít remember.  Quickly I pulled out my camera and showed him the picture we took together a few months ago.  Chris gets a big smile on his face and says that he does remember me.   Not knowing how much time I would have with him, I picked up right where we left off last.   I jokingly told him I came on behalf of the forum and that members had questions for him.   He chuckled and said to send his regards to the guys.   The restaurant is small and it can get a bit noisy in there. 

Me:  Last we spoke Chris, you mentioned you were going to Italy to search out old world flours.  Did you ever make it there? 
Chris:  No.  Right now we are really focusing on North American flours.  We are working with several millers and looking at some different flours.  One out of Utah.  (He mentioned a few other states but they escape me now).
Me: Are you still using Giustoís flour?  If so what protein % is that?  Are you blending it with anything or using it straight?
Chris:  Yes, itís about 13%.  I like to mix a bit of a stronger flour in, like a (winter/sp?) hard wheat.   (I tried to press Chris for a % of the stronger flour but he didnít say).
Me: how about the dough Chris?
Chris: Itís all done by hand.   
Me:  Yes, but do you more of a straight mix or do you rest it and come back to it.
Chris:  rest periods are good for the dough. 
Me:  And you also cold ferment the dough correct?  Or do you make it in the morning and itís baked later that evening? 
Chris:  Cold fermentation is good.  It helps develop the flavor.   (I then try to press Chris for the exact times and the workflow).   16-18 hours is good.  It really depends on humidity and other factors.  (I couldnít tell if Chris was distracted or just not in the sharing mood so I stopped pressing him and moved on). 
Me: Chris, since you cold ferment the dough, do you add an oil to it?
chris: No, never oil.
We chatted briefly about his use of cake yeast and old dough and then moved onto talking about the cheese.
Me:  Chris I know you make your own cheese but do you also make the curd or do you buy the curd?
Chris:  We use to make it ourselves but the health department wants a separate work area, so we buy the curd now.   Right now we are working with someone from LA to get goatís milk curd. 
Me: What brand of curd do you like to use?  Iíve used Polly-O and Belgioso before and I really like Polly-O.  Belgioso seems a bit rubbery to me.  What temps are you stretching it at?  I read that 170F is good.
Chris:  Yeah, Polly-O is good.  So is Grande.  Belgioso can be but it depends how you work it.  Stretch it hotter at 180 degrees. 

Just then our waiter told us our table is ready and Chris said he had to go.  I thanked him for his time and took my seat.   I looked around the room and got a couple of nods from different people.  I guess they must have seen me interrogating Chris.  Lol. 
We were promptly served our drinks, bread with EVOO (Queenís Creek OO).   We ordered the caprese salad, a margherita and a wise guy pie.  The bread looked pretty but it wasn't the best.  It should have been retoasted more.

The caprese salad came quickly.  Everything was fresh.  The basil, organic tomatoes, hand stretched cheese, swimming in OO.   Overall the caprese was pretty good.  Itís hard to go wrong with fresh and lots of OO.   The cheese was lacking IMO and could have been much better.  

While waiting for our pizza, I meandered over to the pizza making station again and watch the guys open a few dough balls and bake a few pies.   The dough looks great.   Itís white and well fermented and has lots of bubbles distributed throughout after itís open.   The dough opens very easily.   They have a very unique method of opening the dough.   Itís mostly gravity doing the work.  The guys flip the skin from hand to hand, flipping over at every turn, allowing gravity to do most if not all of the stretching.   The skins are stretched thin.  Very thin in the center and a good size rim is left on the edge.  The pies are topped moderately and baked on the outskirts of the hearth.  The oven looks big to me and the fire is roaring with the flames licking the ceiling and arching over, just as on the website.   The pies are baked rather far from the the fire.  About 1-2 pie widths away from the fire and baked along the wall.    I asked and am told by one of the guys that the pies bake for about 2.5-3 minutes depending on how heavily it is topped. 

When the pies come out of the oven, they are sliced and served hot.   The pies looked beautiful.  Lots of charring on the rim.   The bottom was not nearly as toasted as the rim.    The cheese and sauce melded together perfectly giving it that molten cheese lava look.  More elite NY-ish than NP look.   When the slice is held out the tip had moderate droop to it.   The center of the pie is very thin, almost too thin while there is quite a bit of rim, almost too much.   IMO, this could have been balanced out a bit better.   There was also a bit too much sea salt sprinkled on the top of the margherita.

The sauce was a bit scarce and hard to judge on itís own.   The cheese again is okay if eaten hot.   The crust was really good.  Texturally it was very pleasing and done right.  Crisp on the outside and very soft, tender on the inside almost like cotton.   If squeezed, the fat rim gave way easily.   The crumb structure is small celled and not opened like one of my typical pies, but it was exceedingly soft without the use of oil.  The moisture of the crumb was just right.  Not wet and not dry.  It was very much like eating a good bread.  The crust had a bit of chew to it but not overly chewy.   I noticed that if I folded a slice up and ate the crust folded, meaning that I ate a lot of crust at once, then the chewiness was noticeable, but not overly.   So it was semi-melt in your mouth.  The flavor of the crust was just okay but obvious that the dough is not made with a starter and/or not subjected to a lengthy cold fermentation.  The sauce and cheese seemed a bit sparse to me but it was well balanced with the thinness of the slice.  The wise guy was good as well.  Here, the onions and the crust stood out to me.   My father in law really like the housemade sausage.  I felt it could have had more flavor and ofcourse more fat.   I don't believe in fat free sausage.   :P

We ended up with a few slices to go.  The ticket was around $40 for 2 pies, caprese salad, and a couple of drinks.  All in all it was a great visit.   Great to be able to chat with Chris again.   I leave thinking about how often Chris must have the same pizza conversations with fans on a daily basis.  But he always seems to take the time and give as much of himself as he can.   The food was good and I would definitely recommend Biancoís if you happen to be in the neighborhood.  If you want to be one of the first to be seated and eating early, I would show up at 3:30pm.   If you don't mind eating at 7:30 or later, then show up at 7pm.   The wait is longest if you've missed being in the first group to get in and much shorter as the night goes on.   It seemed that folks showing up at 7pm did not have to wait as long for a seat.

Chau
« Last Edit: February 12, 2011, 09:24:56 AM by Jackie Tran »


Offline Jackie Tran

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 6984
  • Location: Albuquerque NM
Re: Jackie Tran's review of Pizzeria Bianco - Part Deux
« Reply #1 on: February 11, 2011, 03:13:57 AM »
Some crumb shots of the margherita.

Offline Jackie Tran

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 6984
  • Location: Albuquerque NM
Re: Jackie Tran's review of Pizzeria Bianco - Part Deux
« Reply #2 on: February 11, 2011, 03:15:54 AM »
A few of the wise guy pizza. 

PaulsPizza

  • Guest
Re: Jackie Tran's review of Pizzeria Bianco - Part Deux
« Reply #3 on: February 11, 2011, 04:43:04 AM »
Absolutely awesome! Thanks for doing a great review buddy! Was it the best pizza you have ever eaten at a restaurant?

Offline andreguidon

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 1166
  • Age: 34
  • Location: Sao Paulo
  • Hot WFO always !!!
    • www.andreguidon.com
Re: Jackie Tran's review of Pizzeria Bianco - Part Deux
« Reply #4 on: February 11, 2011, 06:13:22 AM »
Great review Chau !! thanks for all that info. !!
"Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication." Leonardo da Vinci

Offline dellavecchia

  • Lifetime Member
  • *
  • Posts: 2628
Re: Jackie Tran's review of Pizzeria Bianco - Part Deux
« Reply #5 on: February 11, 2011, 06:16:00 AM »
What a fantastic review, Chau. And to be able to chat with him again! It seems he is still using Giusto's flour - most probably High Performer (13%). Ultimate Performer may be mixed in, but UP is spring wheat - so who knows what the stronger flour is.

John

Offline new2dough

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 106
  • Location: Sweden
Re: Jackie Tran's review of Pizzeria Bianco - Part Deux
« Reply #6 on: February 11, 2011, 06:29:30 AM »
Great report JT, thanks!

Offline norma427

  • Lifetime Member
  • Global Moderator
  • *
  • Posts: 21813
  • Location: Lancaster County, Pa.
    • learningknowledgetomakepizza
Re: Jackie Tran's review of Pizzeria Bianco - Part Deux
« Reply #7 on: February 11, 2011, 07:20:47 AM »
Chau,

Your review was awesome!  ;D  Glad to hear you also got to chat with Chris.  His pies look delicious.

Norma
Always working and looking for new information!

Offline scott r

  • Supporting Member
  • *
  • Posts: 3063
  • Age: 43
  • Location: boston
  • I Love Pizzafreaks!
Re: Jackie Tran's review of Pizzeria Bianco - Part Deux
« Reply #8 on: February 11, 2011, 09:29:24 AM »
wow chau, you really got him under the interrogation light this time!   It sounds like he might have been a little scared off by all the questions, but it looks like you got a really nice pizza!   Im bummed hes not making his own mozzarella any more, it was definitely amazing. As far as the flour goes,  I know chris was using central milling flour when I was there.   It creates confusion because central milling is owned and operated buy keith giusto, so when you asked him if he was using giusto's flour it could be either one.   Also, I think at times chris has used a slightly lower protein flour than that, of course everything could have changed.   

Offline PizzaPolice

  • Supporting Member
  • *
  • Posts: 435
  • Location: N/W Indiana
  • WFO-Where Art & Physics meet - Heat is the Arbiter
Re: Jackie Tran's review of Pizzeria Bianco - Part Deux
« Reply #9 on: February 11, 2011, 09:33:50 AM »
That was a great review.  Exacting and honest.  I wish I knew more when we went some years ago.  Me?  I just walked up to Chris and blathered all over myself.  Like you said, a man who is generous with his time and has the patience of a sphinx.  "Can I stand over here and watch?     ..."Yeah, just don't get in the way."  I remember giving him a card with the pizzamaking.com info and taking some pictures.  The best part was at the end when Chris asked us in a humble tone, "Was it OK?  A super guy!

Now if you are still in the area, you have to run over (30 minutes, tops) to Justin's place in Historic Glendale, AZ.  He's a member here (NJPIZZAIOLO)and makes one righteous pie.  La Piazza Al Forno.  5803 West Glendale Avenue
Glendale, AZ 85301 (623) 847-3301.  He just took delivery of a SF oven.  
Have fun!  Go Cubs!
« Last Edit: February 11, 2011, 09:40:39 AM by PizzaPolice »


Offline Pete-zza

  • Lifetime Member
  • Global Moderator
  • *
  • Posts: 21986
  • Location: Texas
  • Always learning
Re: Jackie Tran's review of Pizzeria Bianco - Part Deux
« Reply #10 on: February 11, 2011, 09:38:31 AM »
Chau,

Nice job. I know that pizza is an intensely personal matter, but can you comment on how the Bianco pizzas compared with your own efforts making a similar style?

Peter

Offline jeff v

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 1456
  • Location: Orland Park, IL
  • I'm Valentino not Varasano :)
    • Pizzeria Valentino
Re: Jackie Tran's review of Pizzeria Bianco - Part Deux
« Reply #11 on: February 11, 2011, 11:06:40 AM »
Chau,

Nice job. I know that pizza is an intensely personal matter, but can you comment on how the Bianco pizzas compared with your own efforts making a similar style?

Peter


Great question Peter...

Also In regards to how they open the dough and how bubbly it was, this is one of my favorite dough stretching videos. It's from pftaylor and is a video of Chris making pies. From the 30-45 second mark the way that dough handles and how he opens it is a benchmark I still use.
<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L-t4xkUUjvk" target="_blank" class="aeva_link bbc_link new_win">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L-t4xkUUjvk</a>
  I really like how the Neapolitans use the "slap" but this is my favorite by far. BTW I am aware I probably reached a new level of pizza geekery by posting this  :-[

Jeff
Back to being a civilian pizza maker only.

Offline Jackie Tran

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 6984
  • Location: Albuquerque NM
Re: Jackie Tran's review of Pizzeria Bianco - Part Deux
« Reply #12 on: February 11, 2011, 11:52:52 AM »
Thanks y'all.   ;D  The whole experience was a lot of fun.

Was it the best pizza you have ever eaten at a restaurant?

The crust was the best I've eaten commercially so far.  BUT I haven't eaten at that many of the famous pizzerias yet.

It seems he is still using Giusto's flour - most probably High Performer (13%). Ultimate Performer may be mixed in, but UP is spring wheat - so who knows what the stronger flour is.

John

John I'm thinking it is UP.  During our very short exchange, he did mention spring and winter hard wheat.  Since I don't know much about the different flours and it was a bit noisy in there, and I was busy thinking of the next question while trying to listen to Chris,  I likely just mixed up the winter and spring part.  

Scott r, I imagine I must have sounded like someone from the health department interogating Chris like that.    :-D  But hey, I wanted to make the most of that opportunity for the benefit of the forum.  I'm busy working on my own crust at the moment and not interested in reverse engineering Chris' eventhough it was really good.   That being the case, I still wanted to get as much info as I could about the flours and process for the benefit of those who are interested in trying to make a Bianco crust.  

Chau

Offline Jackie Tran

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 6984
  • Location: Albuquerque NM
Re: Jackie Tran's review of Pizzeria Bianco - Part Deux
« Reply #13 on: February 11, 2011, 11:59:20 AM »
That was a great review.  Exacting and honest.  I wish I knew more when we went some years ago.  Me?  I just walked up to Chris and blathered all over myself.  Like you said, a man who is generous with his time and has the patience of a sphinx.  "Can I stand over here and watch?     ..."Yeah, just don't get in the way."  I remember giving him a card with the pizzamaking.com info and taking some pictures.  The best part was at the end when Chris asked us in a humble tone, "Was it OK?  A super guy!

Now if you are still in the area, you have to run over (30 minutes, tops) to Justin's place in Historic Glendale, AZ.  He's a member here (NJPIZZAIOLO)and makes one righteous pie.  La Piazza Al Forno.  5803 West Glendale Avenue
Glendale, AZ 85301 (623) 847-3301.  He just took delivery of a SF oven.  
Have fun!  Go Cubs!

Thanks PP, wow I wish I would have known about La Piazza Al Forno.  I definitely would have made time to visit Justin.   Although being on the forum, I'm not sure he would appreciate me dissecting his pies like that.   I have a bit of mixed emotions doing an indepth review.  Sometimes I would like to just not bother dissecting a pizza down to the minutia and just enjoy it for what it is, a fine pizza.  But then there is the part of me that wants to scrutinize meticulously over the smallest of details.

I would have posted about my intention to visit Arizona and asked for suggestions but it was somewhat of a last minute spontaneous decision.   After it was decided on Saturday that we would drive to Phoenix, it was a mad rush to pack, clean, and get supplies so we could leave early Sunday morning.

Chau 

Offline TXCraig1

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 12682
  • Location: Houston, TX
Re: Jackie Tran's review of Pizzeria Bianco - Part Deux
« Reply #14 on: February 11, 2011, 12:03:52 PM »
Chau,

Thank you very much for taking the time to write this up.

Craig
Pizza is not bread.

Offline Jackie Tran

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 6984
  • Location: Albuquerque NM
Re: Jackie Tran's review of Pizzeria Bianco - Part Deux
« Reply #15 on: February 11, 2011, 12:04:43 PM »
Jeff V, thanks for reposting that video.  I'll join you in pizza geekery and say that is one of my favorite videos as well.   Chris is definitely a master like none other.   His speed is amazing to watch.  It looks like he's making the pies at blinding speeds practically all by feel, and his timing is perfect with 3-4 pies in the oven at the same time.   Chris truely impresses me.  

BTW, his guys were making these pies at a much much slower pace.  It appears that it takes 3 trained ppl to do what Chris does himself.  Horrachio told me last time that he had been with Chris 14 years and that he was making the pizza for the last 2 years.   By the quality of pies that the guys are putting out, Chris has trained them very well, but it is entirely different to see a master at work.

Chau
« Last Edit: February 11, 2011, 03:07:44 PM by Jackie Tran »

Offline Jackie Tran

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 6984
  • Location: Albuquerque NM
Re: Jackie Tran's review of Pizzeria Bianco - Part Deux
« Reply #16 on: February 11, 2011, 12:41:34 PM »
Chau,

Nice job. I know that pizza is an intensely personal matter, but can you comment on how the Bianco pizzas compared with your own efforts making a similar style?

Peter

I have been giving this some thought but to be honest it is a really tough question to answer.   Though the styles may be similar, there is much variation between the experimental pies I do at home versus Chris' commercial pies.   I thought it was very interesting that Chris once again brought up the fact that a better pie can be made at home b/c more detail and attention can be given to 4 pies versus the volume that is done in a pizzeria.   This is the 2nd time he's told me that without me asking anything relating to it.

Before I go comparing my pizza to the pizzas I had at Bianco's, I want to emphasize a few things. 
First let's keep in mind that though these are Bianco's pies, they are made by trained staff and not the master himself.  There could be a big difference here.   Last time I visited Pomo's Pizzeria, I noted this.  The pies made by the pasquale vs those made by thee pizzaiolo were different.   From the way it is opened, sauce, topped, and baked.   Perfect pizza requires perfect dough fermented perfectly, perfection at every step of the way, and then eaten hot. 

2ndly, we use very different flours. I haven't gotten a chance to try out the giusto's high or ultimate performer so that's one more variable that makes the comparison more difficult. 

3rd Bianco's pies are baked in a WFO oven and mine are make in my rinky dink MBE.   :P  IMHO, Chris' guys have an unfair advantage here.   ;D   I guess I could always get a WFO to level the playing field a bit.   ;)
I believe, if handled properly, a WFO can turn mediocre dough into great pizza and great dough into phenomenal pizzas.  Chris' dough looked really good to me.  I'm just now slowing down on experimenting with so many flours and variables and focusing on getting my dough to that level.   I have also recently built an LBE to try and improve the baking environment of my pizzas. 

Ovenspring - I do get more spring but it can be the difference of many variables including the oven and/or gluten development. 

Texture -  Chris' crumb texture is really really good IMO.  It is very soft and like cotton.  He would kill me if he heard me make the comparison but the crumb is similar to a Papa John's crumb in mouth feel in that it is exceedingly soft/tender, but without the use of oil.  I know, can you believe it?  Did I really just compare a Bianco pie to a PJ's?  :-D  Some of my best pies, the crumb has been similar in softness/lightness and have also been very inspiring to eat.   Some of my best pies have been lighter in texture than what I was served.  But what I can achieve here and there compared to what Chris' guys do everyday is not much of a comparison, I don't think.   I'm not there yet but still working on perfecting my dough.

Flavor - Chris' pies could use more flavor by way of a starter.  But using a starter can be a different animal altogether especially in a commercial setting.  If it is managed properly, I don't imagine it would be that much more work.  So for now, my crusts made with starter has more flavor, but to me that flavor isn't that significant.  Crust texture is much much more important.

What would make Chris' pies even better?  Perhaps using a lower protein flour.  It would give his pies a lighter than air texture, although they are plenty light as it is.   

Chris could kick my @ss making pizza in his sleep that I'm sure of.   Enthusiasm only gets one so far.  His experience and expertise are unmatched IMO.   

Respectfully,
Chau



« Last Edit: February 11, 2011, 03:08:50 PM by Jackie Tran »

Offline TXCraig1

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 12682
  • Location: Houston, TX
Re: Jackie Tran's review of Pizzeria Bianco - Part Deux
« Reply #17 on: February 11, 2011, 12:52:33 PM »
Don't sell yourself short. You have some pretty awesome skills when it comes to pizza and baking.

Craig
Pizza is not bread.

Offline Jackie Tran

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 6984
  • Location: Albuquerque NM
Re: Jackie Tran's review of Pizzeria Bianco - Part Deux
« Reply #18 on: February 11, 2011, 12:56:43 PM »
Don't sell yourself short. You have some pretty awesome skills when it comes to pizza and baking.

Craig

Thanks Craig, I'm curious to know how much difference the WFO will elevate my pies.  I will definitely find out someday, but too many irons in the fire as we speak right at this moment.   BTW, how's your WFO build coming along?  I am anxiously waiting to hear your opinion of your pies pre and post WFO.

Chau

Offline TXCraig1

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 12682
  • Location: Houston, TX
Re: Jackie Tran's review of Pizzeria Bianco - Part Deux
« Reply #19 on: February 11, 2011, 02:08:59 PM »
Thanks Craig, I'm curious to know how much difference the WFO will elevate my pies.  I will definitely find out someday, but too many irons in the fire as we speak right at this moment.   BTW, how's your WFO build coming along?  I am anxiously waiting to hear your opinion of your pies pre and post WFO.

Chau

At the moment, it's still all in my mind. Still debating buying a SF or Acunto and save the hassle. I suspect I'll end up building one. I will probably start in about a month when it warms up a little.

Craig
Pizza is not bread.