Named by numerous publications and countless customers as “The Best Pizza In America,” Pizzaiolo Chris Bianco’s Pizzeria Bianco in Arizona needs no introduction to hardcore Pizza lovers. We never made the journey to try it, but having a few trusted friends who did drive out to Arizona to try it, after waiting 4 hours(!) to get in, their feeling was that it was absolutely not worth it. However, there’s probably no restaurant in the world that is worth waiting in line for 4 - 5 hours for.
Chris Bianco originally teamed up with San Francisco’s vaunted Tartine Bakery team to open up Tartine Manufactory in Los Angeles, a massive complex meant to generate a huge number of loaves for Southern California operations, as well as 2 restaurants within, helmed by Chris Bianco. Strangely, neither restaurant served his much hyped Pizza, and it was as if he avoided making the one thing that made him most famous. Both restaurants closed down, Tartine Manufactory closed as well, and it seemed things were at an end.
However, through the pandemic, it seems Chris Bianco is back, now willing to finally open up a branch of his famous Pizzeria Bianco for Los Angeles. Note that Pizzeria Bianco is actually not in the old Tartine Manufactory space that he was originally at, but instead right next to the entrance of Smorgasburg (just a few stores down).
On this soft opening day, the line quickly exploded to 50+ people in line at one point.
Pizzaiolo Chris Bianco is a nice fellow, greeting and thanking everyone for stopping by.
The space itself is beautiful and simplistic. Inviting tables, a bright sunlit space. They are currently only open for Lunch, but will expand to Dinner next month.
Chef Bianco was personally making some of the pies (along with his assistants) throughout our time there.
For the opening menu, Pizzeria Bianco is serving a New York-style Pizza by the Slice, or you can order Whole Pies as well. He also has a couple of Sandwiches, Salads and Soups.
Chef Bianco mentioned he’d bring his OG Pizzas next month when Dinner service opens up. We ended up trying all the NY and Sicilian Pizza flavors on this visit.
Aguas Frescas - Hibiscus Tea:
They were serving Aguas Frescas, and today’s offering was Jamaica (Hibiscus Tea) with Cinnamon and Cloves. It was only lightly sweetened (a good thing) and refreshing.
NY Style Green Slice (Caciocavallo, Parmigiano Reggiano, Spinach-Cream Sauce):
First, this is definitely a large, foldable New York-style Pizza Slice. Taking a bite, the crust is crisped with some light crunch, but still pliable enough to fold. There’s real flavor in the dough, and it’s thankfully not charred to hell. The dough & crust itself is tasty.
However, the toppings? The Spinach-Cream Sauce gave it a slightly bitter vegetal flavor, and it was a bit too greasy overall. (And I love green / vegetable pies usually.)
NY Style Salami Slice (Calabrese Salami, House Cheese Blend, Tomato Sauce):
Besides having just 1 slice of Salami on this large slice, the actual flavors were very delicious. Just a good Tomato Sauce (not too sweet, nor too tart), the one bite of Salami that I had tasted porky and added enough salinity, and the crust again was consistent: It had flavor (unlike the mediocrity of Pizzana), there wasn’t too much Cheese, and it was crisped up nicely.
Mortadella Sandwich (Mortadella, Montasio, Wood Roasted Apricot Mostarda):
This sounded intriguing: Pizzaiolo Bianco said he makes their Focaccia-like Bread in-house for their Sandwiches, and I love a good Mortadella. Taking a bite: The Focaccia Bread is super crispy and thin (surprisingly). It’s also served cold, but the Bread held up (still crisped).
The Mortadella was tasty, however the entire Sandwich was overpowered by the Wood Roasted Apricot Mostarda. It was very sweet and strong, and in the end, you mainly tasted Apricot Mostarda with maybe a tiny hint of Mortadella. Skip this.
Sicilian Pizza (House Cheese Blend, Tomato Sauce):
Pizzaiolo Bianco also is making 2 Sicilian-style Rectangular Pizzas for Lunch as well. The Sicilian was mediocre. The slice arrived lukewarm-cool. The crust was barely crunchy and soft-soggy in parts. There was a ton of Cheese and the Red Sauce was fine (same as before). This just felt like a total gut bomb. Avoid. (@ipsedixit @BradFord @chienrouge @js76wisco @A5KOBE @paranoidgarliclover and all.)
Market Lettuce Salad:
A nice idea, the Market Lettuce Salad was pre-made (maybe 1 - 2 days previously), as some of the Lettuces were wilted (some of them were borderline going bad). The Watermelon Radish slices were a nice touch of color and crispness, however, the entire Salad was overdressed badly. Their House Dressing was piquant and fine on its own, but they doused the entire Salad in it! If they used 50% of the amount of Dressing it would’ve been much better.
Alla Pala Pizza (Valentino, Caciocavallo, Montasio, Meyer Lemon, Red Onion, Cracked Black Pepper):
We got what looks like an end piece for the other Rectangular Sicilian-style Pizza, the Alla Pala. The crust itself was much better here than on the regular Sicilian. There was a crunchy-crispness to the crust, good flavor coming out, and the Meyer Lemon, Red Onion, and multiple Cheeses were a great match.
Pasta Fagioli (White Beans, Ditalini Pasta, Italian Parsley, Bianco Dinapoli Tomatoes):
The surprise dish this day was Chris Bianco’s Pasta Fagioli. This was a like a hearty stew with little Pasta bits inside. The White Beans were creamy and earthy, the Ditalini Pasta, Bianco Dinapoli Tomatoes and overall stew was hearty and delicious!
It’s too early to tell how Pizzeria Bianco will do here in L.A. For this opening day visit, there were some hiccups (we saw other customers complaining about not getting their food; two of our friends ended up going after we did and besides the massive wait in line, after they ordered their food, it took 90 minutes to get the food to eat!) and the initial Lunch menu with New York-style Pizzas and Sicilian Squares is fine, but not compelling.
The main challenge is that Southern California’s Pizza game has improved dramatically over the years (although we lost a few good ones during COVID-19). There’s a lot more competition and so many styles of Pizza to entice folks and appeal to their sensibilities. Pizzeria Bianco needs a much stronger showing to remain relevant.
Currently, the crust on their NY-style Slices is definitely tasty and a good base. It’s crisped, has flavor in the crust, is foldable (but not gloppy). However, with the toppings and overall enjoyment? It’s just OK. The Green Slice is too greasy, and the Spinach-Cream Sauce is not that great. The Salami Slice (and thus, the Red Slice, which is just the Salami Pizza, minus the Salami) is the much better option, our favorite of the day, but it wasn’t amazing.
The Sicilian Rectangular Pizza was soft, soggy, lukewarm and had too much Cheese. Prime Pizza’s Sicilian and Grandma were much better. And we’d rather have a Detroit-style Square at that point at places like Steel Pan Pizza (amazing!) or Quarter Sheets Pizza Club (both vastly superior for taste, flavor and overall enjoyment). The Alla Pala (Meyer Lemon) was more unique and lighter.
We hope Pizzaiolo Bianco and team deliver on their OG-style Pizzas next month (when Dinner service starts), but hopefully without the long lines. As it is, waiting 1 - 2 hours for a decent slice of NY-style Pizza isn’t worth it, no matter how much hype there is.
Pizzeria Bianco (L.A.)
(inside the ROW DTLA)
1320 E. 7th St., #100
Los Angeles, CA 90021
Tel: (213) 372-5155