Take It to the Bianco

Chris Bianco, legendary chef-owner of Pizzeria Bianco and its next-door Bar Bianco, is opening a bakery, snack and hangout spot in central Phoenix named Pane Bianco. Located in a converted 1940s pawnshop at Central and Indian School, the spot (it's not a cafe, insists Bianco) will serve what the chef considers "glorified prison food" — bread and water. There will be no music, no dine-in, no decor, and Bianco doesn't even expect to break even.

Specifically, the 900-foot space will serve as a test kitchen of sorts, where Bianco can experiment with different staple ingredients for use in his pizzeria. Customers can stop in for "irregulars," taking home a loaf of wood-oven-baked bread, designer sea salts, organic produce, olive oil, whatever Bianco tosses out on his tasting table. A single daily sandwich will be offered, perhaps a daily Italian ice, and when Bianco has time, he'll share his cooking secrets with his guests.

"I'm freaky about food," says Bianco. "It's the basics that make the difference."

Look for Pane Bianco (next door to the fabulous Lux coffee shop) in late September.

Who's in the Kitchen?: Changes are swirling within our local luxury resort kitchens. A pair of prominent chefs have moved on, after being figureheads at their restaurants for as long as 15 years.

Chef Anton Brunbauer has departed the Hyatt Regency Scottsdale, where he's been in charge since the resort opened in 1987. And chef Patrick Poblete has vanished from Lon's at the Hermosa, where he worked the kitchen since the property opened in 1995 (at that time, under chef Michael De Maria, now owner of Michael's at the Citadel in north Scottsdale).

The Austrian-born Brunbauer is reappearing at the new Westin Kierland Resort Spa at Scottsdale and Greenway roads. The 750-room property, slated to open by the end of the year, features eight restaurants, including specialty dining rooms, bars, private dining, coffee shops, and pool and golf club cafes.

There's little news on Poblete, meanwhile. Management will only say that he is "gone," with no information on where he might land next or who will man their award-winning kitchen. There's time to think about new talent: Lon's closes August 10 for renovations, with no new chef announcement until it reopens in mid-September.

You've Got to be Kiddy-ing: Here's a trend I hope never makes it to the Valley — high-end kindergarten cuisine. A new restaurant has opened in Manhattan, called Mod. The James Beard Newsletter reports that the cafe is decorated in bright primary colors and serves a menu ranging from fluffernutter sandwiches to a changing cold cereal special.

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Carey Sweet
Contact: Carey Sweet