The Phoenix area is one of those areas that I visit often enough that I’ve started to have a “hit list” of places that I like to visit every time I’m in town. Sure, it cuts into my exploration of new places, but since I’ve enjoyed these so much in the past, I like to go back for another visit. The list is rather varied, but includes places such as The Chuckbox, Ted’s Hot Dogs, Haji-Baba’s, and Pizzeria Bianco. Indeed, I actually visited all of those places this visit (oddly, Carol hadn’t been to the Chuckbox or Bianco yet!), and they are all still going strong.
But it’s worth talking about Pizzeria Bianco a bit more, since several changes have happened since I last reviewed them (and heck, it’s been almost 2 years since my last visit). In particular, started in January 2010, Chris Bianco started taking some time off for health reasons (apparently the long hours and exposure to smoke on a daily basis were taking their toll). So he’s trained in several of his sous chefs who have taken over the pizza-making operation. So, if you’re going to Bianco these days, there’s a large chance that Chris won’t be running the oven anymore.
However, after almost two years of running this way, the effect on the end product aren’t apparent. We had three pizzas this time (a Wise Guy, a Rosa, and a classic Margherita), and all three were the top-notch, perfectly done pizzas we’ve always had here. (As an aside, I’m not sure I’ve mentioned the Rosa here before: with parmesan, pistachios, and red onion, it’s a very unusual combination, but it’s one of the best they offer).
The other change that’s really apparent is that since April this year, Pizzeria Bianco is now open for lunch as well. That’s a major change, since I had gotten the Pizzeria Bianco long lines down to a manageable routine: either go by myself and talk myself into an open spot in the bar, or go with friends on the early side, accept the wait, and enjoy some local beers from Bar Bianco while waiting for the hostess to finally call our name. I wasn’t really sure what the extended hours were going to do, but expected it would have a positive effect.
Well, it did. Sure, the place still so popular that if you think you’re going to duck in for lunch? Expect a long wait unless you showed up really, really early to get your name on the list. And dinner is still quite the happening time, so if you want that 6pm seating, you might have to do some planning. But if you are willing to show up in the slack hours between lunch and dinner? Our party of three managed to get seated immediately in a half-filled restaurant at 4:15 pm, which still leaves me amazed. Our pizzas came out quickly, and we were out of there right as the place started to get busy again.
Overall, there have been a few changes, but it’s still the phenomenally good pizza it always was, and now it’s even easier to get that wonderful pizza as long as you have a little bit of flex in your dinner time.