Anybody who knows us knows that we’re pizza obsessed. We ate our way through Naples Italy a few years ago, and we still can’t get enough of the Neapolitan specialty to this day. So, during our epic US road trip, we couldn’t resist detouring to Phoenix to check out the pies at Pizzeria Bianco. Rumored to be the best pizza in Phoenix and perhaps the entire country, we were curious to see if these pizzas live up to their illustrious reputation.
Now that we’ve completed our first year as full-time culinary travelers, we’re not surprised to get asked the following questions – “what’s your favorite country?” and “what’s your favorite food?”
The first question is impossible to answer since we’ve loved different aspects of every country that we’ve visited so far. The second question is easier. Though we’re for our deep love of Asian soups like pho and ramen, Mindi’s absolute favorite food is pizza. (Daryl doubts that sentiment but Mindi is 100% sure.) We’re not talking about fast food pizza (though we’ll gladly eat that in a pinch) with parmesan cheese and pepperoni. We’re talking about traditional Neopolitan pizza baked in a wood-fired brick oven. We could eat this kind of pizza every day, which is what we did for a month while living in Naples earlier this year. In fact, we ate enough pizza to write a Naples pizza guide during our month in Italy before we ate the best pizza in the world at Pepe in Grani.
Until twenty of so years ago, it was almost impossible to get authentic Neopolitan pizza in the United States. Sure, people could gorge on deep dish pizza in Chicago and loaded slices in New York City, but it wasn’t so easy to find the classic pies that are the norm in Napoli. Luckily for pizza lovers like us, things have changed since those dark 20th century days. Fast forward to the present and it’s hard to find a major American city that doesn’t have at least one pizzeria serving traditional Neopolitan pizza. That being said, Phoenix is the American city that gets credit for helping to start this trend with the opening of Chris Bianco’s eponymous pizzeria in 1994.
Our Experience at Pizzeria Bianco
Wanting to find out for ourselves if Pizzeria Bianco is the best pizza in Phoenix, if not the country, we detoured to Phoenix on our way from Austin to Las Vegas. Other than checking out the best Phoenix hotels, our only Phoenix research was about the pizza at Pizzeria Bianco. Thanks to an unexpected hail storm, we raced to Phoenix’s Heritage Square neighborhood to arrive just in time for a leisurely late night dinner.
Although we visited Phoenix specifically to eat pizza, we started our meal by sharing a Spiedini. This starter involves organic Prosciutto wrapped around gooey Fontina cheese and served over arugula. We thoroughly enjoyed the Spiedini, but we were anxious to try the pizza.
We couldn’t decide on just one pizza for the main event, so we ordered two. We had to order a Margherita pie since we always like to eat a Margherita pie as a barometer of pizza greatness. This deceptively simple pizza with just three ingredients (Tomato Sauce, Mozzarella and Basil) provides the perfect vehicle for measuring the suppleness of a pie’s crusty foundation, the flavor and freshness of its tomato sauce and the herbaceousness of its leafy basil.
In addition to the Margherita, we ordered a Wiseguy pizza with freshly made, exquisitely flavored Fennel Sausage, Wood-Roasted Onions and House Smoked Mozzarella. The meat-dominated pie provided an earthy protein packed yin to the fresh Margerita pie’s yang. Above all, these two pies demonstrated Bianco’s attention to detail, his local sourcing of amazing ingredients and his ability to create caramelized crusts with remarkable chew, crispy crunch and savory, wheaty flavor.
A former James Beard award winner, Bianco clearly knows his way around the pizza oven.
Though we were full after our pizza party for two, we somehow found room to share a dessert. Light and creamy, the Vanilla Bean Rice Pudding was the perfect ending to a beautiful night of pizza perfection.
Is Pizzeria Bianco the Best Pizza in Phoenix?
True confession – the pizza at Pizzeria Bianco is the only pizza we ate in Phoenix. We just didn’t have enough time to check out more Phoenix pizza restaurants. However, we enjoyed our meal so much that we feel comfortable declaring these pies to be the best pizza not only in Phoenix but in the entire country! Yes, we said it. We consider Pizzeria Bianco to be the best pizza in America.
Bonus Tip – Awesome Donuts and Fried Chicken in Phoenix
In addition to loving pizza, we’re also self-proclaimed donut tasting experts. (If you have any doubt about this claim, check out the many donut photos from all over the US on our Instagram account.) Wanting to try donuts in Phoenix before hitting the road, we hit up Welcome Chicken and Donuts and tried two varieties: the Red Wine + Chocolate Pudding Donut and the Cream Cheese + Tangerine Marmalade Donut. As crazy as these descriptions sound, the combinations were on point with bright flavors that counteracted the richness of the fatty doughy pastries. After scarfing the donuts and then sharing a piece of fried chicken for “research” purposes, we can highly recommend this donut and chicken oasis as the perfect stop on the way out of town before driving to the Grand Canyon or some other Arizona destination.
Pizzeria Bianco is located at 623 E Adams Street, Phoenix, AZ 85004, USA.
Welcome Chicken and Donuts is located at 1535 E Buckeye Road, Phoenix, AZ 85034, USA.