Pizza in the Desert: Pizzeria Bianco Town & Country
I love the Southwest and the Desert, always have.
Not sure if I could live there all year round, but there is nothing like that desert sun in the doldrums of winter to perk you right up.
It's hard to find a decent bagel in Arizona, but great pizza?
Yes, it's here. The best.
I have been following Pizza God Chris Bianco on instagram for some time now.
He is the pioneer of wood fired pizza in the U.S., opening a small artisan pizzeria in the middle of downtown Phoenix back when no one was in that neighborhood in the 1990's.
It wasn't soon after, that the lines to get into Pizzeria Bianco were up to a 4 hour wait.
Today he has 3 locations. The original on Adams St., a new one in Tucson, and the other in a shopping center in the Biltmore section of Phoenix called Town & Country.
It's tough for me to follow his instagram feed during the winter when I am stuck here in NJ with no fresh produce.
I go nuts when I see him posting fresh figs from his tree way into December, and still growing eggplants late into November.
All the food at his restaurant/pizzerias is sourced from local ingredients, from the pistachios to the olive oil made by monks at St. Anthony's Greek Orthodox Monastery in Florence, Arizona from local olive trees.
Local dates and greens, Queen Creek peaches, you name it, even the lamb is sourced from an Arizona farm.
I can't take it.
Arizona has amazing farmer's markets, producing 365 days of the most beautiful produce. Who knew.
Every winter/spring I say to my husband "I am getting on a plane and hanging out w/ Chris Bianco".
Well this time I really did it.
We decided to go the Town & Country location for both lunch and dinner, where Chef Bianco made us gorgeous pizzas and salads and the homemade pastas kept coming out.
We sat down w/ Chris and he explained the method to his madness. He uses flour that is milled locally, and even has his own brand of tomatoes from California, called Bianco diNapoli, which he uses for his pizzas.
Local is best.
He was the warmest, funniest, most passionate down to earth guy/chef we have ever met (a real New Yorker, I might add).
We became instant friends, of course!
He made us a pistachio, red onion and Parmigiano Reggiano pizza called the Rosa, and a simple tomato pie w/ slivered garlic called the Marinara. Heavenly, and truly one of the best pizzas we have ever had.
The restaurant decor is homey and kitschy.
Chris' vintage oil painting collection and antique mirrors decorate the walls, as well as beautiful artwork painted by his father.
Back for the dinner menu and to sample some of the best food we have ever eaten.
For dinner we had homemade cavatelli w/ local cauliflower and sausage.
Hanger steak w/ sausage and potatoes and spiedini w/ prosciutto wrapped fontina done in the wood oven.
There was much more but I was too busy eating to photograph all the food.
Nutmeg Italian ice and mesquite cake for dessert? yup.
Though it rarely rains in the desert, it did that day while we were there, but it was ok, the highlight and purpose of the trip was to eat at Pizzeria Bianco, and it turned out to be the best day.
Follow your dreams and enjoy!
Pizzeria Bianco Town and Country, 4743 N 20th St, Phoenix, AZ 85016