Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Off the Map: Well, It's Not Sbarro, But It Will Do

Rosa Pizza -- Pizzeria Bianco, Phoenix, AZ
Pizzeria Bianco

"I'm already annoyed.  It's never good when I start out annoyed."

And so begins our inexplicable drama with the staff of Pizzeria Bianco. 

After a hearty and heartening meal at Matt's Big Breakfast, we wander through the streets of downtown Phoenix in search of John T. Edge's Best Thing I Ever Ate Rosa PIZZA at Pizzeria Bianco.
There's New York Pizza, There's Chicago Pizza, and There's... Phoenix Pizza?
When we arrive, we find an assortment of both picnic and high-top tables in front of the establishment, and a packed house inside.  Vodka makes her way in, and finding no hostess but a pad of paper and a pen on the pizza counter, she decides to sign us in herself, Matt's Big Breakfast-style.

Apparently, such sign-in practices are NOT, as Vodka had assumed, a Phoenix policy.  At least, that's what the waiter who scolded her said.

Obediently dropping the pen, Vodka waits for the actual hostess to appear and then learns that it will be thirty to forty minutes for a table. 

"Can we eat outside?" Vodka asks, pointing at the vacant tables just outside the front door.

"We don't serve out there," the hostess states.  Accepting our fate, Vodka retreats outside and explains the situation to Ginger and our friend, who suggest that we ask for a pizza to-go and consume it on this lovely, shady picnic table.

This plan, too, is not allowed by the school marm-ish hostess.

And now, Vodka is annoyed.
So Then What, Exactly, Are All of These Tables For?!
We sit on our picnic bench somewhat patiently for a half hour, Ginger popping up randomly to photograph Southwest scenery ("Excuse me, I need to go take a picture of some lemons").
Looking at Citrus Trees Like People Who Have Never Seen the Ocean
Meanwhile, a plethora of stray cats roam the premises, making us question whether or not they're the reason for Pizzeria Bianco's seemingly ludicrous policy of not allowing customers to consume THEIR PIZZA directly outside of THEIR RESTAURANT.
Minus 10 Stars for Making No Sense, Pizzeria Bianco
After seating not one but two parties who had arrived after us, our sworn frenemy, the hostess, deigns to allow us to sit at the bar.  And this is where the real trouble begins.
See How Many People Are Waiting For Us? Yeah - Exactly
Ginger scampers off to the excessively large bathroom, one in which we're convinced, based on our New York-centric ideas about space, you could fit a table for ten, leaving Vodka and our friend to commandeer the drinks.
Arizona is the Place to Live If You Want to Fit Full Wardrobes in Your Bathroom
We order wine and the bartender cards Vodka.  Now, Vodka loves to be carded, as it makes her feel like a college co-ed, so this is not the issue.  The issue is that the bartender is about as focused as a hyperactive Pomeranian.  Instead of checking our friend's ID at the same time as Vodka's, he disappears, so our friend puts her ID away.  Minutes later, when we are still without our drinks, he asks to see hers.

And now our friend is annoyed, too.
So This Pizza Better Be the Best Thing We Ever Ate to Make Up For All of This Nonsense
At this point, the attention-deprived bartender and his scolding waiter friend start talking about us -- or to us, but in a passive-aggressive way that we do not comprehend.

And this is the moment at which Ginger returns from the bathroom, thoroughly confused by the scowls on both of our faces.

Eventually, we receive both our wine and our glasses of water (which Vodka only had to ask for, oh, three times).  But you know what we do not receive?  Bread.  You know what everyone else seated at the bar has received?  A basket of bread.

"I don't even want the bread," Vodka says, referring to our Matt's Big Breakfast-induced fullness.  "But it's the principle of the thing."

And now, everyone is annoyed: Vodka and our friend are irritated by the bartender, waiter, and hostess, and Ginger is perturbed by the fact that she still doesn't quite understand what is going on.

For the record, this is not the best mentality with which to consume a pizza.
But It Is Great Motivation for Tossing Certain Waitstaff Towards the Pizza Oven
Trying to lighten the mood, Ginger prattles on about how she does not fear she will die by murder or mugging in Arizona because there are so many other hazards with which to contend, such as snakes and cacti.

"And scorpions," our friend offers helpfully, causing both of us to lift our toes up slightly higher on our barstools.
Death by Desert
Just before Ginger can confess by what other means she fears she will kick the bucket, our pizza arrives (well, actually, the bartender tries to give it to another party and has to be corrected, cementing his cold place in Vodka's heart).
You're Currently Batting in the Negative Zone, Buddy
Six slices, with slightly charred crusts from the giant pizza oven, are covered with slices of red onion, a coating of parmigiano reggiano, and pistachios, and the whole thing is seeped with rosemary flavoring.
Nuts and Onions Everywhere and Not a Drop of Cheese
Biting in, we find the crust thin, slightly crispy, and pleasant enough.  It is the toppings which we feel are lacking.
And PS Why Are All of the Toppings Hovering at the Tips of the Slices?
In its defense, this rosa pizza is interesting, mostly because we have never seen nuts sprinkled onto a pie before, and they bring a solid earthy texture to the slices.
But All the Texture in the World Can't Bring "Taste"
However, we think something else needs to be added in order to make the flavors pop -- more cheese, or salt, or garlic, or truffle, or some form of sauce.  The pizza, for all its unusual ingredients, is more than tolerable, but just not as interesting as it should be.
Why, in a "Nutshell," Phoenix is Not Known for Its Pizza
Diving into her second slice, Ginger proclaims, "I just feel like it's missing something."

"Bread," the still-bitter Vodka retorts, once again eying the neighboring bread basket.

By the end of our "lunch" (let's be real -- we don't really let "meal times" hinder our eating schedule), we're fairly certain that the staff of Pizzeria Bianco finds us just as aggravating as we find them (and not just because we keep speaking loudly about how dusty their overhead beams are).
Ever Hear of Some Endust?!
Considering that we had hopped off the plane from New York and headed straight to the airport Sbarro, we may not have the most discerning taste in pizza.
Sad That We Preferred This Duo of Slices, Huh?
But we do know, without a doubt, when we are irrevocably annoyed.

Pizzeria Bianco's Rosa Pizza: 3 stars

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