Last week Aces asked me over for dinner and a sleepover, an invitation I gladly accepted. She said she wanted to go to Pizzeria Bianco, but she warned me--it's the famous gourmet Phoenix pizza place, the one that's gotten national attention, and is famous for the 3 hour wait in the hot sun. I was undaunted. She picked me up after work and we dropped our stuff off at her cute single girl apartment downtown and walked over.
Aces said she wanted my opinion, that she's been a couple of times alone and sat at the bar. In her opinion, it was really good pizza, but she was uncertain how much a factor the heat, the pre-dinner drinks, and sheer hunger after the wait had affected her opinion. Oh, and the bar server made her feel bad for wanting 2 pizzas, which she sure as hell could put away, even if she is thin.
Pizzeria Bianco has a great location and a remarkably efficient setup for dealing with the crowd. They are right next to the AZ Science Center, the Arizona Doll & Toy Museum and across from an English tearoom and an English pub. It's also downtown, so there's other cool stuff close by. Bar Bianco is next door. You check in at the restaurant and they estimate your wait (ours was 3 hours, and we got seated right on schedule) and if you go to the bar they will track you down when it's your turn. The bar is in a beautiful converted bungalow from the turn of the century and serves beer and wine and some appetizers. There's plenty of seats on the porch and around the bar and restaurant. Inside has a/c (and a magazine rack--they need to refresh it a bit though) and comfy if low seats. The music is really good too.
It's set up to be an experience, a long period of socialization topped with food. And that's what we were looking for. Aces and I are experimenting a bit with building a relationship--we haven't lived together in 15 years, since I was 18 and she 13, so we don't know each other. I don't know if it comes across how much I admire and adore my sisters in my writing, how I regard them as having the best bits of our parents, and how I envy their beauty and brains and good sense. Wanting to be closer to them is why I came out here.
And socialize we did, talking about family stuff, and opinions, her work, and other topics. Two beers (for her) and two Mexican Cokes (for me) later, we got word that we had seats. Hurray!
So what did we get? We went for the Margherita, the Rosa, and the Biancoverde. We were both tempted by the Wiseguy, but our waiter said he could put three pizzas on the table and give us one for takeout and we decided to hold that over for another visit on the grounds it might not reheat well.
Yeah, I don't get the pizza rationing thing either. Definitely points off for that. He was a sweetheart of a server otherwise.
The verdict? It is really good pizza. Superior crust of the thin and crispy variety. The mozzarella is handmade. However, we're from NJ, land of pizza. I love it, but I'm not necessarily wowed by fancy pizza. The Margherita was really good, very simple but a higher quality version of the neighborhood pie. I don't care for white pizza, but I could taste how the ricotta smoothed out the bite of the arugula.
However, the Rosa was the best damn thing we had eaten this year. Just tasty and creative--chewy crust, the creamy cheese with a slight sourness, the onions soft and sweet but also with a slight tang (almost like they'd been pickled), and the meaty nuttiness of the pistachios topping the whole thing off with a hearty crunch and tying it together. It knocked me out. I could have eaten a whole one myself, just to keep puzzling on how the elements worked together.
We finished the whole pie and most of the other two.
My mom has said that she'd like to go to Pizzeria Bianco, and with 6 people in a party you can make a reservation, so we are planning to do this for my birthday in December when she is here.
It was a great night. Aces is a wonderful hostess, and we're planning to do more stuff together.