Dining Outside at Pizzeria Bianco, Los Angeles
It says it all that during our two days in Los Angeles recently, we high-tailed it to the new Pizzeria Bianco not once, but twice.
Arguably, Chris Bianco has been deemed the country’s best pizza maker, with devotees waiting as long as three hours at his original Phoenix restaurant just to get their fix.
Since opening in Los Angeles in June, this place has been mobbed. And since Los Angeles is a more convenient destination for yours truly, you know that my husband and I put Pizzeria Bianco on our must-stop list no matter what when we traveled to Southern California earlier this month.
Thankfully, we didn’t have to twiddle our thumbs for hours on end when we got to the Row DTLA, the massive 30-acre urban commercial district that was the former site of the American Apparel manufacturing facility, and that’s now home to not only Pizzeria Bianco, but a host of restaurants, boutiques, and offices.
Instead at 12:30 p.m. on a Saturday, we did have to wait in line for about 30 minutes before we made our way to the walk-up pizza window to place our orders.
At lunch time, there’s a more limited menu with only slices available, plus sandwiches and salads. However, at dinner, the menu is more expansive with whole pies on offer. But good luck getting a reservation for dinner, as the restaurant is already fully booked through December.
At the height of lunch hour, don’t be surprised if a few of the items are already crossed off the menu board after selling out.
We ordered one of each of the three different New York-style slices still available. Pick a table inside or outside, and a server will deliver your slices when they’re ready.
What makes Bianco’s pizza so special? To be sure, he uses organic high-protein flour, makes his own mozzarella, plus his own canned tomatoes, and works with local farmers to use peak ingredients.
He has a way of combining ingredients for maximum effect. And there’s no denying his crust is exceptional. The New York-style boasts a thin crust that’s crisp on the edges and throughout its entire bottom, even to the very tip of the slice. There’s an airiness to it. The texture is almost like a toasted English muffin, in the way that the nooks and crannies add a lightness to its structure that affords some softness at its core. The pizza crust has delicious developed flavor. Believe me when I say there’s no way you will leave any of it behind.
The New York-style slices are sizeable. The “Red” was the largest, easily requiring two hands to eat off the plate. Sweet and savory, it had a rich, concentrated tomato taste.
The “Green” is not pesto, which is what you might guess. Instead, it’s a spinach cream sauce that covers this slice with a dusting of Parmigiano. It’s almost like spinach dip, except that the grassy, minerality of the spinach doesn’t get lost here, but is spotlighted fully.
The “Salami” has plenty of thin slices of cured sausage covering the slice, adding a sweet porky taste along with a tongue-tingling punch of spiciness.
On our next jaunt there, we arrived on a Tuesday at 11:30 a.m. to find — yay — only two people ahead of us, and everything on the menu still available.
This time, we ordered everything to-go, starting with each of the three slices we had tried previously, plus three others we hadn’t had yet.
The “Lemon” turned out to be one of my favorites. Served as two small squares, it was topped with fragrant rosemary, red onion, Fontina, and thin slices of Meyer lemon. It presented a fresh, vibrant taste with a burst of sunny citrus along with that pleasant bitter edge from the rind.
The “Market Slice” was thicker with crispiness on the top, bottom and edges, and tender interior. This one definitely wakes up the taste buds with its heat of Fresno chilies and Sopressata slices, along with garlic, provolone and mozzarella.
The special that day, “Sicilian Slice,” was thicker still, much like focaccia with a crisp exterior and a very dreamy, pillowy interior. It was dressed with sweet Bianco DiNapoli canned tomatoes, fresh basil, and a house cheese blend that melted deliciously, becoming one with the top of the crust.
For good measure, we also got the ciabatta sandwich to-go, which proved a good thing on the drive home to the Bay Area, when an accident on the highway had us in stop-and-go traffic for at least 30 extra minutes.
Dressed with a splash of sherry vinegar and arugula, the proscuitto-provolone sandwich, made with a yielding bread that had a nice thin crunchy crust, sure hit the spot as traffic was at a stand still, especially with the side of pickled pearl onions, cucumbers, and hot peppers in the box.
Alas, I didn’t get to try the famed “Rosa” pizza, a unique combination of red onion, rosemary, Parmigiano, and locally grown pistachios that David Chang, and so many other Bianco fans call their favorite. Unfortunately in Los Angeles, it’s only offered at dinner.
Guess that means I’ll just have to start planning another trip to Southern California again soon.