Second Helpings

Take Another Pizza My Heart: From the moment it opened in late 1994, tiny Pizzeria Bianco zoomed right to the top of the Valley's pizza league. Actually, as Valley connoisseurs know, when it comes to pizza, Pizzeria Bianco is more or less in a league of its own.

But proprietor Chris Bianco hasn't been happy at his Town & Country location, sitting next to a defunct Smitty's supermarket. So now that his lease is up, he's about to make a big move.

No, he's not moving to Scottsdale and opening a 200-seat restaurant. He's taking a chance on downtown Phoenix, relocating to historic Heritage Square.

Bianco has signed a 10-year lease, with two additional five-year options, on the historic building at 623 East Adams, just west of Seventh Street and a couple of blocks north of the new Bank One Ballpark. What attracted him? "The building matches what we do--it's real," he says. "Nothing faux. In 20 years, I want people to come by and say, 'I remember eating here as a kid.'"

Bianco has wisely resisted the temptation to enlarge the scale of his operation. Inside, there'll be room for maybe six more fannies than could squeeze into his Town & Country storefront; the patio will be able to hold about a dozen more. He's also resisting the temptation to fiddle with his menu. Look for the same salads, sandwiches, pizzas and desserts.

Bianco is also taking the plunge into retail bakery. Pane Bianco will do business next door to Pizzeria Bianco, and feature bread, cheese and cappuccino. He's also going to put an organic herb and vegetable garden between the two businesses, to supply his kitchens.

Pizzeria Bianco plans to shut down the Town & Country spot this week. The proprietor is aiming to have the new place open for business by mid-April. The phone number will remain the same: 381-1779. Pane Bianco's start-up date is scheduled for June.

Combo Madness: They say America is a melting pot. If you need culinary proof, head over to the bizarrely named Chino Bandido Takee-Outee. This funky, six-year-old place, set in a modest north central Phoenix shopping strip, features some of the oddest combination fare in town.

Now, there's nothing inherently strange about machaca, egg foo yung, jerked chicken, chile relleno and teriyaki chicken. You just don't find too many places that have them all on the same menu.

But Chino Bandido does, along with eight other dishes that traipse the globe, from Mexico to Asia to Jamaica. They're quite tasty, and the price is right, too.

You put together your own combination plate. Two items cost $5.25, and come with either first-rate black or refried beans, rice and a snickerdoodle cookie. (For an extra 50 cents, you can upgrade to fried rice.)

The chile relleno is especially effective, a thickly battered, crunchy green chile that oozes cheese when you bite into it. Carnitas, machaca and Chinese barbecue pork demonstrate a flair for swine. The jerked chicken has a bit of a kick.

Chino Bandido Takee-Outee is at 15414 North 19th Avenue, at Greenway Road. Eat in, or take out. Call 375-3639.

--Howard Seftel


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