Finding (arguably) America’s best pizza at Pizzeria Bianco in Phoenix.
Pizza is a topic on which I feel very opinionated. Having lived in Philadelphia, New Haven, and New York, good pizza has been a big part of my culinary life, and so when it’s good, it’s good, and when it’s bad, I’m livid. My gold standard for pizza is and will likely ever remain Modern Apizza in New Haven, Connecticut, and that’s why I’m going to come down hard on a pizza that is either bland, overpriced, uninspired, or (heaven forbid) a combination of all three.
When doing my research for our Phoenix trip, I was struck when I found an article on Eater that declared Bronx-turned-Phonecian pizzaiolo Chris Bianco the best pizza maker in the country, and when I saw that the main restaurant was about a half-mile from downtown, I knew we’d have to check it out for ourselves.
Heritage Square is a lovely little district across the street from an ASU campus, and Pizzeria Bianco is located in a quaint brick building that establishes the restaurant’s vibe early: simple, unfussy, but polished. We put our names in for a table, and while we were supposed to have a wait, we were seated faster because presumably the party ahead of ours was not of a mind to wait. (I took pictures around the area, while M sat on a nearby bench under the shade of a tree.) While people had been sitting outside in their shaded patio, the midday heat was driving them to keep diners inside, and I can appreciate that kind of thoughtfulness.
The service here is fast, efficient, helpful, and friendly--quick to replenish water glasses (again, because heat), but also because they want to turn over tables in a timely manner so that other diners aren’t left to languish outside. It helps that they have a well-edited and succinct menu; since you’re not bombarded by options, it makes it easier to make a decision rather quickly.
Our meal was straightforward: a local lager for M, a French rosé for me, and to start we tucked into the Farmer’s Market salad which changes on the regular. Ours had arugula, apples, ricotta salata, and candied pecans, it was exactly the kind of refreshing dish to tuck into before having our pizza.
We went with one pizza, but because we were torn between two kinds--the classic Margherita and their house Rosa--our waiter suggested doing half-and-half of each, and we readily agreed. The Rosa is made with red onion, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and local pistachios, and we added some wood-fired mushrooms because they sounded too good to pass up.
Is Pizzeria Bianco the best pizza in the country? Well, given that it inspired me to order it despite it being close to 100 degrees out certainly says something in its favor, but I would argue that the combination of excellent service, delicious pizza, and a casual, comfortable atmosphere that didn’t take itself too seriously certainly puts it on the pantheon of pizzas along with the likes of Modern, so if anything else, consider that to be one hell of a favorable comparison.
And as soon as the weather becomes amenable to blasting the oven again, I will be making that pizza Rosa for ourselves as quickly as possible.
623 E Adams St, Phoenix, AZ 85004
Town & Country (as of August 2021, temporarily closed)
4743 N 20th St, Phoenix, AZ 85016