For dinner on our first night in the great city of Phoenix, we had a quick bite to eat at Pane Bianco (http://www.pizzeriabianco.com), before an exciting NFL Gospel Event preceding the Super Bowl.
The Pizzeria Bianco restaurant group has 3 restaurants, the first of them being Pizzeria Bianco. Pizzeria Bianco was started more than 25 years ago in a small corner of a local grocery store in Phoenix, by soon- to- be famous chef and restauranteur: Chris Bianco.
Chris now has two other renowned locations of Pizzeria Bianco: Pane Bianco (the one we went to) and Bianco DiNapoli.
When Chris founded Pizzeria Bianco he obviously hoped and planned for it to have incredible success, but he could never have dreamt of the jaw-dropping commendations and awards he received for his one-of-a-kind pizzas and different restaurant atmospheres.
Some of these amazing achievements include winning the prestigious James Beard Award for Best Chef of the Southwest in 2003. The New York Times and Food & Wine both called the pizza “perhaps the best in America”, and finally and probably most importantly, Zagat named Chris one of the 6 chefs who influenced pizza the most as a whole.
Chris truly cares about his customers in every way shape and form. He has lasting relationships with the farmers and the local producers that provide his fresh ingredients, and as a result only cooks with the freshest, cleanest, farm to table ingredients. In addition, he treats his customers and staff with the respect and sincerity that he approaches each of his recipes with.
After marveling at the slightly rustic with a slight spin of a farm-to-table-esque modern atmosphere, we were ready to order. To start, we ordered a Large Antipasto Plate including smokey, robust Market Roasted Vegetables, a selection of salty tender, moist cured meats, and a mixture of smooth, velvety, bright white, barely aged cheeses to sample with the assorted other items on the dish.
For our main course my older brother and I order the Sonny Boy Pizza, and my younger brother and father ordered the Classic Margherita Pizza.
The Sonny Boy had a crisp, toothsome yet soft-centered base. This base was covered in a thick, warm layer of velvety red sauce and finished off with soft, pillowy globs of melted mozzarella cheese. The Sonny Boy was also covered in crispy, spicy, oily Soppresata salami and tangy, juicy, sliced black olives.
When the pizza arrived, I couldn’t keep my hunger to myself, I began to devour the pie. Everything around me seemed pristine, the clean atmosphere, the wafts of steam drifting of the edges of the pizza, the fine ingredients…. this feeling lasted up until we realized the waitresses had forgotten my father and brother’s Margherita Pizzas. The waitress who took our order did not write anything down, thinking she would be able to remember our simple order, but as you know- she was very wrong.
After waiting and waiting (and consequently finishing my own pizza), we spoke to the wait-staff about the missing pies. They apologized profusely and ultimately offered them to us at no charge. They also gave us a complimentary dessert to compensate for our hungry stomachs.
When we finally did receive the two pizzas, we had to leave to make our NFL Gospel event, so we took them on the road with us.
Before I describe the Margherita Pizza of Pane Bianco to you, I would like to give you a brief history of Italy’s true flagship pizza: the Margherita Pizza.
According to the Italian Magazine website, in 1889, 28 years after the unification of Italy, during a visit to Naples, Queen Margherita of Savoy, wife of King Umberto I, chef Raffaele Esposito of Pizzeria Brandi and his wife created a pizza resembling the colors of the Italian flag, red (tomato), white (mozzarella) and green (basil). They named it after the Queen – Pizza Margherita.
The pizza at Pane Bianco was not quite as good as I imagine the first Margherita Pizza was, but it was extremely delicious.
The piping hot, crunchy, formidable crust was again topped with an excessive but delicious amount of rich, robust, heavy red sauce to compliment a thin, yet strong crust. In addition the pizza was finished with numerous slices of melted mozzarella cheese and a twist of herbaceous basil on top.
Overall, I enjoyed Pane Bianco very much, but if I were to return to any of their locations, I would most definitely ask the waiter or waitress to read my order back to me after we were finished ordering. I would give it ZZZX- 3 3/4 Z’s- Good!!