Chow Bella

Sittin' in the Waiting Room
Chris doesn't give in when Gayle asks for extra toppings

"Is this pizza really that good?" "How long did they say the wait is?" "Damn you, Oprah!" I couldn't help but eavesdrop a little bit on a recent visit to Pizzeria Bianco. It was a Saturday night, and I really do know better than to attempt the four-hour wait. (It used to be more like two, on random weeknights.) Problem is, once I really get a craving for something, it's impossible to shake it. Not sure if you caught the Bianco segment on Oprah last month, but the TV queen dispatched her buddy Gayle to taste-test pizza around the country, and she gave Phoenix's landmark five stars, er, slices. I'm not an Oprah watcher, so one of my friends gave me a heads-up on the show, and I promptly set my DVR to record it. That was my downfall, I guess. After watching it a few times, I wanted a Wiseguy, and I didn't care how long it would take. I convinced myself that if I hadn't gone to the restaurant, I would've ended up drinking wine in front of the TV anyway, so why not hang out at Bar Bianco instead? True, true. I enjoy a cheese plate and a bit of conversation with friends before dinner, so I try to incorporate that into my plans when I go to Pizzeria Bianco — you know, just enjoying the moment. What I didn't think about, though, was consuming not one but three bottles of Titus Vineyards Old Vine Zinfandel. Oops. So many people were hanging out in the front yard, on the porch, around the bar, off the rafters. Chuck, the bartender, told me there were something like 20 people waiting outside before the place even opened at 5. I had the feeling there were a lot of curious first-timers, because I heard several people wondering aloud what the pizza tastes like, and why Chris Bianco doesn't just get a bigger place and let others man the woodfired oven. (I resisted the urge to butt in with my two cents.) There were even a couple of young women nodding off in their chairs. All of humanity seemed to be converging on this tiny place to find out why it made national television. And for that, I completely understood the crowd, and the strange solidarity I felt with all of these people. I'm definitely not going to try a stunt like that again on a Saturday, but for one night, it was interesting in an anthropological kind of way. And yes, I got my Wiseguy fix. (If you want to replicate the experience in your living room, you'll need a bottle or three of Titus, a few candles scattered around the room, and Nouvelle Vague's cover of the Buzzcocks' "Ever Fallen in Love" on repeat. (song link) I can't help you on the pizza front, though.)

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Michele Laudig
Contact: Michele Laudig