Pizzeria Bianco – Phoenix, AZ

Pizzeria Bianco
623 E Adams St.
Phoenix, AZ 85004
(602) 258-8300

Before we get into my pizza trip to Phoenix, let me introduce myself.

I’m currently a barista in Alberta and finished a Bachelor of Arts last spring. I’ve been working in the food industry for the last 11 years, but only started appreciating real food when I began working in the specialty coffee industry three-and-a-half years ago. Being a part of the coffee industry has been an excellent opportunity for palate training: there are over 1,000 chemicals in roasted coffee, making for a very complex and diverse drink. No two cups of coffee or two pulls of espresso are the same; the quest for the perfect extraction lead many baristi to lose sleep, become over-caffeinated and obsessive.  One major upside is that any good barista will become concerned about everything she consumes. It is through this process that I really began to care about the food I eat. By no means do I claim to be a culinary expert; I’m just a food-lover, like every other contributor on foodosophy. I care about where my food comes from and hope that the person who prepared it cares even more. I also believe that when someone focuses on one thing and decides to put everything he or she has into it, the results will come through. This is obviously true in the food industry and I intend to experience as much of that passion around the world as I possibly can.

On that note, my trip to Pizzeria Bianco was inspired by friends at home who have been obsessing over pizza dough for the past year. If you think pizza is some average combination of flour, water, salt and miscellaneous toppings, you’ve never experienced pizza for what it can be. After many pizza parties, where my friends were experimenting with different dough recipes and ways of preparation, I came to the conclusion that I’d never eaten an outstanding pizza. These same pizza-obsessed friends also kept mentioning a pizzeria in Phoenix that they were dying to visit: Pizzeria Bianco. A quick search on WestJet in December revealed not only a direct flight from my city, but an incredibly cheap seat sale mid-January! I booked on a whim and waited impatiently for January 9 to arrive.

After landing on the tarmac and picking up the car rental, my friend and I were off to Pizzeria Bianco. Hotel check-in and settling in? Acquainting ourselves with a completely new city? Pfffff. We came for pizza and we wanted to eat pizza now.

Pizzeria Bianco is widely regarded as the best pizza restaurant in North America. It has been rated number one in the US by Bon Appétit, the New York Times and Vogue. But would I, a non-professional food critic, be able to taste the difference?

We arrived to the news that there was a three hour wait-time for two. Three hours? This had better be life-changing pie… Thankfully, Bianco’s has a charming little bar next door that resides in a cute bungalow with a porch-front patio. We easily passed the time admiring the warm and worn hardwood floors, ironic but artful portrait paintings and the soft and inviting lighting from the fireplace and sconces. Not to mention, the excellent wine and beer menu (try the Four Peaks Hopknot pale ale from nearby Tempe for a crisp and refreshing brew with big agave notes). Worry not about the time, as the efficient and friendly hostess has been keeping note on tables opening in the restaurant. She’ll let you know when you’re up.

All at once, it was our time to eat pizza! What to choose… Like all other outstanding eateries, Bianco’s opts for a small and simple menu. Not only that, they will happily do half-and-halves! My friend and I chose a Margherita (the espresso of pizza), Rosa (Arizona pistachio, parmigiano reggiano, red onion and rosemary) and 1/2 Sonny Boy (tomato sauce, mozzarella, salami and Gaeta olives); 1/2 Wiseguy (wood roasted onion, house smoked mozzarella and fennel sausage). Side note: the fennel sausage itself makes the Wiseguy a worthy full pizza. Had I known this beforehand, I would have ordered a full of this particular pie.

Verdict? Every pizza was better than the last. The toppings were fresh and well portioned; the flavour combinations balanced and interesting. Most importantly, the dough was the best I’d ever eaten: light and airy, crispy on the outside, just a little chewy on the inside and flavourful. I could have eaten the crust by itself and would have been happy.

Margherita: the classic. Basil, fresh mozzarella and tomato sauce. Like espresso, it’s bare-bones, but complex. Simple because there are few components; complex because a balance amongst them is essential. This one achieved a great balance between a tangy and flavourful tomato sauce, the sweetness/bitterness of the basil and creaminess of the mozzarella, all atop a phenomenal crust.

Rosa: one of Bianco’s white pies. You couldn’t eat more than one of these in a night, but the flavour combination is unlike anything else you’ve ever tasted on a pizza. The sweetness of the red onion is balanced by the saltiness of the pistachio and parmigiano reggiano.

On the left: Wiseguy – my favourite of the night. That fennel sausage is truly outstanding. You will dream about it later in the night. The wood roasted onion just adds to its greatness.

Right: Sonny Boy – also a tasty pie, though a little more conventional. The salami is solid (peppery with just the right amount of saltiness) and the olives and mozzarella provide even more savoury goodness.

You will be enjoyed later…

Just before a beautiful hike in the red rock of Sedona.

Was the pizza worth the flight to Phoenix? Wholeheartedly, yes. Eating at Bianco’s reminds me that passion and attention to detail can be tasted in food, no matter how simple it is. As with every other food experience, context has an affect on taste. But context doesn’t change mediocre food into great tasting food and Bianco’s serves the kind of pizza that will cause you to re-think the stereotype that pizza is just another fast-food or hangover cure.

Pizzeria Bianco on Urbanspoon

8 thoughts on “Pizzeria Bianco – Phoenix, AZ

  1. I agree. This place is amazing. Una Pizza Napoletana, Motorino, DiFaras, Delfina, Delancey’s, APizza Scholls, Pizzeria Mozza – all excellent. But i think Bianco is the best.

    Some notes that people may want to know – reservations are available for 6 or more people only. Typically you need to reserve 2-3 weeks in advance. If you dont have a reso, then expect to wait 3-3.5 hours. Luckily, there is the aforementioned bar across the way.

    You can only order once (doesnt this sound like “Pizza” club? The first rule of Pizza Club is… :)) – no re-orders allowed. Order extras…like..twice the amount you actually think you need. You’ll eat more than you expect, and you’ll be glad you have all those leftovers the next day. They were almost as amazing cold!

    Lastly, they won the inaugural “Pizza Madness” bracket we discussed earlier as the best pizza in America. Ed Levine is a fan – you should be too!

    • I had no idea that they have an “order once” rule. I’m glad I ordered the amount I did – it was the perfect amount. And yes, day-old cold pizza from Bianco’s is fantastic. It was perfect for before our hike near Sedona :).

  2. I have a good friend in Phoenix who told me he refuses to go because of the wait. However he will take me there if I ever visit he said, knowing that I will buy three hours worth of drinks across the street…..

    • Palatelover, commend your drive and steadfast commitment to eating at this destination place you had on your mind for this trip!

      H.Peter, I think I have the same opinion as your friend. I’m not a fan of lineups in general. 🙂 I think the only way I’d get there is if we all gather and make that reservation for at least 6, and/or you/Foodosopher are buying me drinks for 3 hours. 🙂

      • It’s funny, I really don’t mind waiting. Especially when the wait takes place in as charming a place as Bianco’s bar. As for commitment to eating at a destination restaurant, I suppose there was a bit of that, though I think it had more to do with the fact that I booked the trip on a bit of a whim :). I definitely think, Shokutsu, that you should gather a group of friends together and make a trip out of it! Even if you make your reso, spend some time in that bar.

  3. Very nice! Good advice for those of us with Pizzeria Bianco on our must-dine lists. I can’t wait to try their famous and oft-referenced pizza next time I make it out to Phoenix. But I’ll definitely get there early!

    • Henry,

      You either wait in line early to get in/get your name on the list, or you wait at the bar. We arrived right as they opened, and had to wait 3 hours. Many people had been standing in line for longer than that. Me personally – i’d rather wait at the bar for 3 hours than outside in sweltering Phoenix heat for 3 hours 🙂 Just thought you might want to know!

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