Los Angeles Can Finally Enjoy Chris Bianco's Legendary Pizzas
The previous LA restaurant he owned folded, but this time he's bringing the hits back.
Featuring New York-style slices, market salads, and sandwiches on house-baked focaccia, Pizzeria Bianco's Los Angeles outpost opens for lunch on Thursday. After that, chef Chris Bianco will offer dinner service with his pizzas born in Phoenix that made him one of the best pizza chefs in America.
This restaurant, Pizzeria Bianco, is powered by the passion of a 60-year-old man who has everything to prove and nothing to prove at the Row DTLA development.
He is referring to Tartine's massive bakery-restaurant-coffee roastery complex at Row DTLA that was opened by Bianco and Chad Robertson in 2019 but closed after 11 months. Bianco served slices that simultaneously resembled focaccia and Sicilian-style pizza at Tartine Bianco, a restaurant inside The Manufactory. Because he wanted to make it clear he was collaborating with Robertson, he called them flatbreads instead of pizzas.
It wasn't until later that Bianco promised his famed pizzas might appear in Los Angeles at Alameda Supper Club at The Manufactory.
As soon as he wins the James Beard Award for Outstanding Restaurateur, he's ready to shut up and play the hits. He has been making Neapolitan-American pizzas for over three decades and will introduce six of them in July at the new Pizzeria Bianco.
With fresh mozzarella, salami, and olives, these twelve-inch pies come in margherita, marinara, and Sonny Boy versions. A pizza without tomato sauce includes the iconic Wiseguy with smoked mozzarella, wood-roasted onions, and fennel sausage. He will use California pistachios instead of Arizona pistachios for the Rosa pizza, which Bianco admits wasn't popular at first. Likewise, Bianco is experimenting with a blending of three or four cheeses on his Biancoverde, which is topped with arugula. These are his classics, but he still feels free to tweak them.
In opening this restaurant, Bianco is experiencing an emotional moment. His father, Leo Bianco, was a professional artist who passed away two years ago.
Chef Marc Vetri recently gifted two paintings purchased at Alex's Lemonade charity auction to the new Pizzeria Bianco.
The Forrest Gump-like life of Bianco has led him to reflect on the meaningful connections he's built along the way. As a result, he has learned not to run away from failure, but instead ask Los Angeles for a second chance.
A slice of the 18-inch New York-style pie, topped with Meyer lemon, is available at lunchtime, or guests can just stroll in to grab one. Visitors may also want to pick up carefully curated items, such as organic tomatoes and chocolate Bianco Bars, to take home. He and managing partner Seth Sulka hope visitors will do so.
Even though Row DTLA has 40 seats inside and 40 outside, it is a much smaller venture than The Manufactory, so Bianco knows he's taking a gamble. It's hard to do business in Los Angeles, compared to many other cities. As a result of the pandemic, many LA chefs and restaurateurs are experiencing staff shortages, rising costs, permitting delays, and other problems. Even with a lot of new development downtown, many people still consider it a suboptimal location due to its squalor and shininess.
Although he feels he is forced to try again here, with a little bit of the DNA he used at Row DTLA, he believes that the right restaurants, like Kato and Hayato, can thrive downtown. He says his head chef at Pizzeria Bianco, Marco Angeles, was previously a baker at The Manufactory. Cairnspring Mills flour, which was used at The Manufactory, is an integral part of the menu at Pizzeria Bianco.
In addition to unfinished business, Bianco thrives off the energy of downtown Los Angeles.
It makes Bianco, a high-school dropout from The Bronx who has always loved big cities, even more eager to move to downtown LA.
It's hard to do things in Los Angeles, but Bianco isn't overthinking it. Cooking is all he wants to do.