About ten years ago, I was driving cross-country and ate dinner at Pizzeria Bianco. I liked Chris Bianco’s pizza so much, I returned the following day for lunch. Years later, and dozens of national write-ups later, Pizzeria Bianco no longer has to serve lunch to generate enough business. Instead, hours are limited to five hours a night, 5-10 PM, Tuesday through Saturday. There are no reservations, and it was a Saturday, so we arrived at 4 PM to score a spot in the first seating. There were already about twenty-five people sitting on benches and metal chairs outside the former home of the Baird Machine Shop, built in 1929. At about 4:30, anxiety settled over the mounting crowd and people began lining up. And lining up. And lining up. There were about twenty people in front of us, but with 43 seats, I wasn’t worried…yet.
A woman emerged from Pizzeria Bianco and asked everybody in line to take three steps back so she could open the door and begin letting people in. As it turned out, seemingly solo diners were serving as proxy for larger groups, and our first seating status was in jeopardy. As diners filtered into the restaurant, it got to the point where there were only six seats left at the bar, and only two pairs in front of us. Or so we thought. A man at the head of the line announced there were TWELVE people in his party. The hostess offered him the final six seats at the bar, and the man took them, with total disregard for the other six people in his party, who were relegated to an hour-and-a-half wait.
At this point, the hostess began writing down names on a list. Securing second pole position, we chose “first available.” We were given an ETA of one hour and told to remain between the pizzeria and Bar Bianco, where they’d call my name.
Bar Bianco is situated next door in a circa-1909 house that was moved to Heritage Square in the ’80s, featuring a shaded porch and a beautiful wood interior. Heritage Square is a revamped, pedestrian-only historic area featuring the Arizona Science Center, the Phoenix Museum of History, and the Arizona Doll & Toy Museum. After standing in another long line, to get drinks at the bar, it became obvious why Chris Bianco opened the bar, and why he doesn’t offer reservations. I didn’t know this at 4 PM, but Bar Bianco features a short menu of interesting bar snacks: Fra’ Mani charcuterie, cheeses, and a couple creations made using that amazing Bianco bread.
I drank a glass of Thunder Canyon cream ale (Tucson, AZ) on tap, along with bottled Coke.
Less than an hour after I gave the hostess my name, I was led to a table in the back of Pizzeria Bianco.
Pizzeria Bianco offers coffee, but no desserts. I needed caffeine fix, but took sympathy on the waiting diners and got coffee elsewhere.On the walk out, Chris Bianco and his staff thanked us for eating there. I told him it was “well worth the wait.” After being reminded of Bianco’s pizza mastery, there’s no chance I’ll wait another decade for a return trip.
Pizzeria Bianco is officially open Tuesday-Saturday from 5–10 PM, but if you get your name on the list by 10, you may be seated past midnight.
November 2, 2021 at 9:57 AM
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Restaurant City Mastery. | 7Wins.eu
November 20, 2009 at 9:18 AM
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