And for me, Pizza Mecca can only mean Pizzeria Bianco located in Phoenix, AZ.
If you doubt this, all you have to do is look at this pic and see the long queue of people waiting. These people include me & Mr. Hubby & our 2 little kids who have also been waiting since 3.00 pm - on a weekday. Doors open at 5.00pm! Need I more?
If you are still skeptical then perhaps you'll trust James Beard Foundation Vice President Mitchell Davis who after waiting three hours in 2008 to taste Chris Bianco's pizza, said this - "Thirteen years? Five-hour flight? Two and a half hours in line? Pizza this good is most certainly worth waiting for."
So this I proclaim, as far as I'm concerned no visit to Arizona or for that matter, Las Vegas, California, New Mexico or Utah would be complete without a visit to Chris Bianco's, Pizzeria Bianco located at 623 E Adams St, Phoenix, AZ 85004 .
Now even though if you are like my parents, you may not be a pizza addict or terribly knowledgeable on the finer points of pizza making but one bite into one of Chris Bianco's creations and I promise you, as the explosion of flavors awakens your senses, you will see the colors of Michelangelo's painting in the Sistine Chapel with greater clarity than ever before!
There's another something wonderful that Pizzeria Bianco offers - a sense of 'camaraderie'. As we all wait in disorganized array to firewood scented air from the ovens, some are sitting on the beech benches in the idyllic setting of historic square, some sipping wine, some reading a book, some watching their kids run around a tree & get their trousers filthy (namely moi kids) we are all joined by this sense of belonging and waiting for something great. The mood is upbeat & punctuated by laughter.
After a 3-1/2 hour wait, we enter into a small intimate dining room with walls filled with beautiful paintings by Chris's father, tables snugly fit together & the flicker of dancing candle light that fills the room. Our vivacious waiter, Dave brings forth large quantities of the most divine artisan rustic bread. And then plates of antipasto - roasted vegetables but so much better. He's the only one serving and his smiles light up the room.
The only light on the table is flickering candle light & my itty bitty point and shoot camera simply couldn't cope - so all you get from me is the words and no pics.
When our pizzas of choice arrived (who in their right mind can walk away eating just one? ) - we being verified food 'nuts' ordered 4!
Finally, sitting in front of us were the most beautiful Neapolitan-style pizzas we'd ever feasted our eyes on:
- a simple ROSA with red onions,Parmigiano Reggiano, Rosemary, AZ Pistachios,
- a heavenly BIANCOVERDE with Chris' own mozzarella, Parmigiano Reggiano, Ricotta & fresh Arugula & a double order of the stellar
- WISEGUY with roasted onion, smoked mozzarella, and fennel sausage.
Simply put, the pizzas were superb. The crust was crisp and thin but intensely flavorful. The toppings were fresh and bountiful without wiping out the crust. Even the scent, flavor and freshness of olive oil drizzled on top stood out.
As I looked around me, I saw jubilant faces in the crowd along with the beaming smiles at our own table, and the quality of the excellent service with warm genuine smiles & hugs for the locals who've been coming in for years with their grand mothers & mothers. And I realized this is perhaps as close as I have come to 'my last choice meal'
Tall order for the humble pie, you say? Not, so when it comes to this pie, my friend!