We have all heard the well informed who claim Pizzeria Bianco serves the best pizza in the country. But is it possible it may also be one of the best restaurants? I believe it just may be.
First let me give a bit of background information about myself. Great food is important to me. As a matter of fact it was my career before becoming disabled. I have worked in James Beard award winning restaurants. Cooked for Paul Newman and watched Julia Roberts taking a kitchen tour. Have ate everywhere from Manresa in Los Gatos to Babbo in NY. Have talked food with Thomas Keller at 1.30 in the morning in the French Laundry kitchen and enjoyed lunch at Jean Georges on a sunny afternoon. My idea of dinner out is driving 500 miles to Komi in DC for a 5 hour degustazione menu. On the more casual side. A weekend family drive for us may be 150 miles to Di Fara's or Lombardi's. I have sampled Pat's and Geno's cheese steaks side by side and ate BBQ from Ed Mitchell and Chris Lilly. When it comes to shopping, I been to farmers markets from Union Square NY to the Ferry Building SF.
I'm only pointing these details out because I can't stress enough how much great food and restaurants are a factor in my life. Cooking was more then a pass time to me. It was my career and true passion.
So maybe with that said readers won't think I'm some off the wall nut when I say I drove last month to Pizzeria Bianco from upstate NY. The trip was a year in planning and hopefully a memorable experience for my children.
We got there at 3.00 pm hoping to make the first seating for sure. Hot!! Man I was sweating from body parts I did not know I had.
But after other people started showing up 'With in 15 minutes' I started to notice something I never noticed before at any restaurant. Strangers were socializing with others like it was straight out of a Walton's Thanksgiving episode. This joyous atmosphere carried over right over into the dining room once the doors opened. I was so impressed as this is what great food is all about? And how did Chris Bianco create this atmosphere? The type other restaurants only dream of. I still can't say I figured it out.
We ordered everything on the menu but one salad as we wished to try as much as possible. The salads and appetizers were outstanding! I am not easily fooled by less then perfect ingredients. These were the best available!
The Tomato and Mozzarella Salad was one of the best dishes I ever ate. I could not believe it, I made countless myself and know the answer is key ingredients. Yet still how could it rise to the level of Keller's technique of Oysters and Pearls or Gray Kunz's short ribs? Yet it did and what an inspiration it was to me. And what can I say about the pizza's that has not been said before? Truly sends me back to the drawing board to evaluate everything I thought I new about food and restaurants.
After our meal Chris took the time to chat with me a bit and give pins and tee shirts to the family. What a awesome guy! So humble and down to earth. We all should be so lucky to have someone like him as our next door neighbor.
So many complain about the long wait and line. I say don't be discouraged by it, welcome it as part of the whole experience. It is very much a part of the whole picture and approach it with a open mind. You will not be disappointed in mankind or the pizza.
For this reason Pizzeria Bianco holds a place in the best restaurants in the country and I can't wait to return.
PS. Not sure exactly how to post photos. But for those interested if you visit flickr and run a search on Pizzeria Bianco mine are listed under robert40.