Author Topic: Pizzeria Bianco  (Read 8591 times)

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Offline bicster

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Pizzeria Bianco
« on: May 30, 2009, 08:09:46 PM »
So after years and years, I finally had an excuse to go to Phoenix.  Needless to say PB was top on my list of things to do.  To make a long story short, I was wondering if anyone else has been disapointed with the pizza there?  I fully realize nothing can stand up to 7+ years of fantasies, but I was just expecting something more.

Am I crazy?


Offline abatardi

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Re: Pizzeria Bianco
« Reply #1 on: May 31, 2009, 01:06:14 AM »
Make me a bicycle CLOWN!

Offline David

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Re: Pizzeria Bianco
« Reply #2 on: May 31, 2009, 02:14:43 PM »
Well it's a very old aarticle,but maybe you're not alone and not mad.

http://www.theartisan.net/TheArtisanMain.htm

Pizzeria Bianco - 623 East Adams,  Heritage Square, Phoenix, AZ., USA


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

While reviewing information about restaurants to visit during our annual Arizona vacation, Pizzeria Bianco came up on The  Phoenix New Times  internet site. The reviewer, a Howard Seftel,  cited this restaurant as the number one  restaurant in Phoenix, and waxed eloquently about the excellence of the pizza.  He stated that "This is, hands down, the best pizza in Arizona, and maybe west of Naples".

We ate there on two occasions during two successive annual trips to the Scottsdale-Phoenix area. After the first visit the following quickly became obvious:

Most likely, Mr. Seftel never ate pizza in Naples.

After the second visit, we concluded that:

Pizzeria Bianco should not be ranked as one of the best restaurants in Phoenix.   

Upon arrival at the restaurant, the fellow at the door was competent, and contrary to all that we have read about long waits at the restaurant were seated us in record time.

We were served bread and the now obligatory olive oil for dipping while waiting.  The bread was edible, but the oil was either pure -- as opposed to extra virgin oil, or  it was the poorest grade  of extra virgin olive oil possible for Chris Bianco, the genial owner,  to purchase.  It was highly acidic, and burned as it passed down our throats.  What made this worse was the note at the bottom of the menu which indicated that extra virgin olive oil was available, at $2.00 an ounce!   Insulting is the first word that comes to mind.  Greedy is the second.

We ordered a roasted vegetable appetizer, and it arrived quickly. It was well cooked and  would have been good without the poor quality olive oil with which it was dressed. After that however, things went down hill fast.  As stated, our appetizers came promptly, but  by our waitress did not take our entree order for quite some time. 

When the pizze finally arrived, they were overdone.   They had been left in the wood burning oven for so long that the cheese no longer had any moisture left, and was the consistency of leather.  The crust was  a thick dark brown substance, and was tough.    Needless to say we did not finish them. 

We decided that discretion was the better part of valor, and passed on dessert.

The wine, a 1995 Coltibuono Chianti was good, and fairly priced at $20.00 a bottle.

The cost of the meal was $59.06 including the tip.  In our opinion this was $39.06 too much.

We returned to Phoenix a year later, and decided to try Pizzeria Bianco again.   The restaurant was packed, and we waited at the bar for about 30 minutes.  As was the case during our first visit, the staff, especially the bartender, were cordial and  efficient.

We ordered two pizze, a plate of roasted vegetables and a bottle of wine. As was the case in the previous visit, the wine was quite good.  When they arrived, the vegetables were cold .  The pizze were so over baked that they were inedible. Again, things had not improved since our first visit.  We left the pizze, uneaten, on the plate, paid our bill and left. 

We are unable to comprehend why or how this restaurant continues to garner rave reviews.  It certainly is a local hangout, and one which is easy to enjoy as far as the ambiance is concerned. The historical building is very nicely done, and the outside seating area is great on warm evenings. The atmosphere is a bit "clubby", in that if you are known to the proprietors , seating is much more rapid.  That is not uncommon in the restaurant business, and we were mildly amused to see that Bianco's is not different in that regard.

Will we return on our next trip to see if things have improved?  Probably not, as we seldom give restaurants a second, let alone a third, chance.
If you're looking for a date... go to the Supermarket.If you're looking for a wife....go to the Farmers market

Offline bicster

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Re: Pizzeria Bianco
« Reply #3 on: May 31, 2009, 02:38:20 PM »
I really have to agree with certain aspects of that.

-The olive oil was mediocre at best. 
-The country bread was indeed very crisp, and had great mouthfeel, but was quite lacking in taste. 
-The appetizers were great, we looooved the olives, which he mixes with some crushed garlic and crushed red peppers.
-We ordered three pizzas, all just very mediocre.  Great texture, like the bread, but no taste.  The highlight was probably the fennell sausage, really spectacular.

Truth be told, I probably would not go back.  Thats not to say it was bad, it was......forgetable.

Offline sourdough girl

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Re: Pizzeria Bianco
« Reply #4 on: May 31, 2009, 10:59:55 PM »
OK, I'm just an innocent bystander here, so don't flame me...

I AM curious about a few things, though...

What exactly is that link David posted supposed to show us?  When I click it, it goes to some blog that has nothing to do with Pizzeria Bianco, a critique of Pizzeria Bianco, or even pizza, as far as I can see...

So, bicster wasn't pleased with his trip to PB... he thought the pizza was.... hmmm..... disappointing.  Fine, perhaps they were having an off night, who knows?

David posts a critique by someone who appears to have a chip on his shoulder toward Chris Bianco.  The pizza was not even EDIBLE?  Why was this not brought to Chris' attention?  Chris, from what I have read, makes EVERY PIZZA himself... and I find it hard to believe that he would turn out an inedible pizza, not just once in a year... but TWICE?  So, instead, the reviewer just walked out?  This person seldom gives a restaurant a second chance??  I'm really curious as to who wrote the review, since no name or affiliation is given for authenticity.

I have not been to Pizzeria Bianco (someday, hopefully!) but several of our membership have... and their reports are quite different.

Just sayin'....  there are some major red flags in that "old article"....  and I hate to see anyone get an undeserved bad rap by an unnamed critic.

~sd

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Offline David

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Re: Pizzeria Bianco
« Reply #5 on: June 01, 2009, 01:13:26 AM »
I posted the link as that is the original source for the article.I seem to remember commenting on it a while back also?Anyhow... The Artisan  is a food blog / website that has been around for quite some time now and does have some usefull info IMO.I don't personally care for the style of writing they embrace,but again that's just me? I just offered it up as a (rare and contentious ) supporting comment for bicster who may very well be mad or has not finished drinking the kool aid?
I've never been to the restaurant in question so I have no opinion apart from being a distant admirer of Chis Biancos candid style.I tend to side with you SD in feeling the article may be tainted with a little animosity,but on the other hand it's the ONLY negative thing i've ever read about the place!For a guy that openly and honestly admits to his lack of satisfaction with much of his output,I doubt he would disagree with the odd disgruntled punter?It's a different ball game when you're under the gun and churning out hundreds of pizzas a night,and impossible IMO to not have  a few disappoint you.I personally think the paying customers who frequent the iconic pizzerias  are the ones who need a reality check.There is over priced bad pizza being served  daily and lines out of the doors to buy it.Unfortunately IMO the only conclusion I can come to is that most can not recognize it,feel obligated to ignore it,or embarrassed to admit it?
David
If you're looking for a date... go to the Supermarket.If you're looking for a wife....go to the Farmers market

Offline othafa9

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Re: Pizzeria Bianco
« Reply #6 on: June 02, 2009, 02:36:08 AM »
The same thing happened to me last year, I drove 5 hours just to go there, and actually tried to keep my expectations low to not be disapointed, but I was still a bit disapointed. My margherita was a bit dry, but I did love his basil, it was the most memorable thing for me.   I personally liked Pane Bianco significantly better.

Offline PETE

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Re: Pizzeria Bianco
« Reply #7 on: June 06, 2009, 11:02:05 PM »
Just got back from Bianco's on Thur, (my 4th time, driving from Southern California) and it seems like the pizza keeps getting better everytime.  Have been a long time viewer of this website, first time posting, I am in the works of opening a small Neopolitan pizzeria in Southern California.  Even had the mother in law (investor in pizzeria) tag along to Bianco's, she was blown away.  Chris goes out of his way to talk about pizza with me and is a true gentleman. 

Offline bicster

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Re: Pizzeria Bianco
« Reply #8 on: June 06, 2009, 11:28:32 PM »
Aside from Chris being a great guy, what was so exceptional about the visit.  I understand that taste is subjective, but even if I dont enjoy something, my palate can recognize certain attributes.  His food is just flat. 

Offline PETE

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Re: Pizzeria Bianco
« Reply #9 on: June 06, 2009, 11:50:08 PM »
Maybe you have been there on an off night?  The tomato/mozarella salad is always incredible, the spiedini was a little off since the cheese was little hard on the inside, but the pizza's have always been perfect.  Now I am not saying that many of us on this board (including myself) have not made dough with a more distinct taste, but his whole thing is about not over powering any of the other ingredients.  The many years of working in pizzeria's and making them at home, I think I am over the more of a topping or the dough has to have a more distinct (sour) taste.  Or quite possibly it is that there are so few good pizzeria's in Southern California. 


Offline sourdough girl

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Re: Pizzeria Bianco
« Reply #10 on: June 07, 2009, 03:02:47 AM »
Aside from Chris being a great guy, what was so exceptional about the visit.  I understand that taste is subjective, but even if I dont enjoy something, my palate can recognize certain attributes.  His food is just flat. 

Since your palate seems to be in the vast minority, perhaps you should reconsider whether it is as great as you seem to think.
If you watch some of the cooking reality shows (Gordon Ramsey's comes first to mind) some of the TRAINED CHEFS could not tell, when blindfolded, pork from beef... or bacon from baloney.

I'm not sure what is to be gained by soliciting negative reviews for Chris' establishment other than to help yourself understand why you don't like his pizza when everyone else does...?

Taste IS subjective and this IS America.... you are entitled to dislike his pizza if you wish without fear of reprisal.  However, rather than lobbying for negative reviews, why don't you explain to us why you feel a need to have your opinion validated?  Why not just post a negative review on Yelp and be done with it?

I apologize if this comes across rudely, but I have discovered, just recently, that life's WAY too short to keep quiet when something is bothering me...

~sd
Never trust a skinny cook!

Offline PETE

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Re: Pizzeria Bianco
« Reply #11 on: June 07, 2009, 03:36:05 AM »
sourdough girl  I agree totally, everything is per individuals taste, and there are certain people out there who will rip on a restaurant no matter what, you have to take it with a grain of salt.  When I eventually open my Neopolitan pizzeria (with my dad, wife and mother in law), I sometimes wonder if looking on yelp reviews is even worth it.  I have been to many of the great (so called pizzerias),  Patsy's, Grimaldis, Antica, Pepes, (which were all good/great in their own way), but I don't say they are bad or don't taste right (flat), everyone has different tastes, look at the people who still crave, Papa Johns, Pizza Hut etc...  I do see what Chris is saying sometimes when he says he is not a true fan of Caputo type flours.

Offline Chef_Boy-R-Dee

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Re: Pizzeria Bianco
« Reply #12 on: June 07, 2009, 07:14:02 AM »
Perhaps 7+ years of wanting the "holy grail of pizza" heightened expectations a little too much?
"Simplicity is Complexity Resolved"

-Constantin Brancusi

Offline Matthew

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Re: Pizzeria Bianco
« Reply #13 on: June 07, 2009, 01:21:19 PM »
Since your palate seems to be in the vast minority, perhaps you should reconsider whether it is as great as you seem to think.
If you watch some of the cooking reality shows (Gordon Ramsey's comes first to mind) some of the TRAINED CHEFS could not tell, when blindfolded, pork from beef... or bacon from baloney.

I'm not sure what is to be gained by soliciting negative reviews for Chris' establishment other than to help yourself understand why you don't like his pizza when everyone else does...?

Taste IS subjective and this IS America.... you are entitled to dislike his pizza if you wish without fear of reprisal.  However, rather than lobbying for negative reviews, why don't you explain to us why you feel a need to have your opinion validated?  Why not just post a negative review on Yelp and be done with it?

I apologize if this comes across rudely, but I have discovered, just recently, that life's WAY too short to keep quiet when something is bothering me...

~sd

SD girl,
Very well said, I couldn't agree more.

Matt

Offline bicster

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Re: Pizzeria Bianco
« Reply #14 on: June 08, 2009, 09:35:57 AM »
Since your palate seems to be in the vast minority, perhaps you should reconsider whether it is as great as you seem to think.
If you watch some of the cooking reality shows (Gordon Ramsey's comes first to mind) some of the TRAINED CHEFS could not tell, when blindfolded, pork from beef... or bacon from baloney.

I'm not sure what is to be gained by soliciting negative reviews for Chris' establishment other than to help yourself understand why you don't like his pizza when everyone else does...?

Taste IS subjective and this IS America.... you are entitled to dislike his pizza if you wish without fear of reprisal.  However, rather than lobbying for negative reviews, why don't you explain to us why you feel a need to have your opinion validated?  Why not just post a negative review on Yelp and be done with it?

I apologize if this comes across rudely, but I have discovered, just recently, that life's WAY too short to keep quiet when something is bothering me...

~sd
-The people of Ramseys show are not chefs.  Most are cooks, at best.

- Yes, you are right, I need to understand why my wife and I did not enjoy PB. 

-As foodies, we have been to some of the greatest restaurants in the world.  We have developed very strong, sensitive, and discerning palates.

The original intent of my post was to find out if anyone else has been disapointed.  I have rarely seen a review describing the taste, describing flavor, etc.  All you see is:  chris is such a great guy, pizza was amazing, bread was yummy, etc.  I find it odd that people cannot come up with more descriptive ways of capturing their experience.  I think that there is a large amount of people who dont want to admit that waiting in line for 3+ hrs was done so...for nothing.

Mario Batali and Martha Stewart may love him, but have you ever eaten anything of theirs?

Offline scott r

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Re: Pizzeria Bianco
« Reply #15 on: June 08, 2009, 10:48:03 AM »
I feel bad saying this because I love Chris.....really amazing character that guy is....... but I know some other people who just didn't think the pizza was that amazing.   Its pretty easy to find pizza just as good at a number of spots in NYC, so I think that throws the balance off for people who are expecting an out of body experience.   

Offline pcampbell

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Re: Pizzeria Bianco
« Reply #16 on: June 08, 2009, 12:53:48 PM »
I have been there maybe 10 times.  Nearly every time I wait 2 hours.    I would also chime in and say that I do receive pies with burnt crusts from time to time.  Usually it is "very good". 

With regard to the olive oil , I thought that Chris has some place in California or western Arizona or something that just pressed it for him "that morning"?

Patrick

Offline tdeane

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Re: Pizzeria Bianco
« Reply #17 on: June 08, 2009, 02:31:33 PM »
Taste IS subjective and this IS America....

~sd

I agree with what you said, but what does it being America have to do with it?

Offline Chef_Boy-R-Dee

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Re: Pizzeria Bianco
« Reply #18 on: June 08, 2009, 02:50:26 PM »
I would have to agree that especially with Pizza...Taste is very subjective. There so many styles, thicknesses, toppings, ways to cook (gas, wood, electric), the amount of cooking (no char, some char, a lot of char), etc, etc. It's not like a piece of fish, where one can clearly tell if it is undercooked, cooked just right, and overcooked. With pizza there are many degrees of "doneness".

And I'm not trying to say Bicster is wrong or has an underdeveloped palate or anything, but what I thought was amazing pizza 5 years ago, is fairly mediocre today too. I really think If I would have tried a DOC Neopolitan style pizza a while back, I would have asked where are the toppings??? and why doesn't the sauce have much flavor????

Bicster, What if you didn't have to wait 3 hours...would the pizza have been worth it???
"Simplicity is Complexity Resolved"

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Offline sourdough girl

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Re: Pizzeria Bianco
« Reply #19 on: June 08, 2009, 06:38:30 PM »
I agree with what you said, but what does it being America have to do with it?

Sorry, Terry, I didn't mean any disrespect to you folks in other countries... it was merely my way of pointing out one of his basic freedoms in the U.S.... the freedom to say that he doesn't like Chris' pizza.

bicster, I should have been more clear... I was thinking more of Gordon Ramsey's "Kitchen Nightmares" where he goes to established restaurants which are in trouble...  those DO have trained chefs with less than stellar palates and it's one of Gordon's favorite ways to test them... blindfold them and shove food in their mouths.  It's always quite entertaining.  Also, if you watched the last season of "Next Top Chef", the winner, Hosea, has a much more developed palate than one of the runners up, Stephan, who is a heavy smoker... 
So, I'm guessing that you are not a smoker and could identify seven ingredients in an unnamed sauce just like Hosea did?

I'm also convinced that just going to the best restaurants will not develop a "strong, sensitive and discerning" palate.  I'm firmly convinced that it is something you are born with.  You might be able to hone it by tasting a variety of foods of varying quality, but just visiting restaurants is not going to develop something you don't already have.  Just like people who can't carry a tune in a bucket... they are not going to sing better by going to concerts.  You're either born with it or you're not.

I also don't understand why you think "a large amount of people" would not want to "admit" that they didn't like Chris' pizza...  so, they lie and say they liked it?  Makes no sense to me.

Why do you really need other people's "palates" to validate your own?  If you don't like his pizza, you don't like it.  Your own discerning palate should tell you why.  What's to "understand"?

Again, I apologize.  I'm not trying to be rude or argumentative.  I enjoy studying human nature and more specifically, human motivation.  I like to understand the "why" of peoples' actions and reactions.

~sd
Never trust a skinny cook!


 

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