It's been a long time since I've been to a wedding. I'm not exactly of that age anymore, though I am starting to see some second timers trying again, with much better luck I might add. It's also been a long time since I've had pizza. Layers of carbs, tomato sauce and toppings aren't so much in my diet anymore. Where am I going with this? I was invited to a wedding in Phoenix and of course I can't go to a new city without trying some new food, so I set out to research notable eats in Phoenix. The name that kept coming up was Pizzeria Bianco. Friends from Paris and Montreal were even telling me that I had to go to Pizzeria Bianco. So luckily agreeable wedding friends and the bride indulged me as I reacquainted myself with the pizza pie.
Pizzeria Bianco is Chris Bianco's concept, started in 1988 in the corner of a Phoenix neighborhood grocery store. Five years later Chris went on to win a James Beard Award for Best Chef: Southwest. He now has 3 restaurants across Phoenix and Tucson serving much talked about pizza.
We went to the larger Pizzeria Bianco in Town and Country, one of the newer locations. A large room in back is adorned with simple wood tables, garnished with fresh colorful wild flowers and red-striped dish cloths for napkins. A large crystal chandelier hung from the ceiling, but the star attraction was the large wall of muted paintings in a variety of sizes and frames.
Wedding talk led to pizza sharing talk and everyone found their mate to match their toppings. There is a selection of pizzas with red sauce and others with no sauce and just the cheese doing the heavy lifting. We went sauceless so we could truly taste the ingredients on the pizza.
I fell hard off the carb-less bandwagon while indulging in the crispy, chewy warm bread dipped in a pool of rich olive oil. We were celebrating, so it only made sense to enjoy a glass of Proseco, and enjoy we did.
My pizza partner and I opted no on the red pizza, but hell yes on the cheese, fennel sausage and wood roasted onion pie. The pizzas are made in a wood fire oven that flanks the front of the restaurant. The thin, crisp crust made me happy on so many levels. I didn't get lost in a sea of dough or goopy toppings. It reminded me of how pizza is served in Italy - simply, but with quality ingredients placed on top. The fennel lent a subtle sweetness to the sausage and the onions the right amount of flavor and texture.
The vegetarian group went for the cheese trifecta with mozzarella, parmesan and ricotta and a healthy dousing of arugula. Again, well done and super satisfying without being overbearing.
The bride who lives in Phoenix and can have pizza any day of the week, opted for a lovely fresh foccacia sandwich. The warm, doughy bread held fresh mozzarella, tomato and basil and was bright and refreshing.
It was a lovely reunion of friends and flavors. I'm hoping I don't have to wait until the next wedding for another taste of quality pizza like the ones at Pizzeria Bianco.