Chris Bianco, legendary Phoenix-area chef and founder of the famous Pizzeria Bianco, is finally opening his namesake original in Los Angeles after years of false starts. In November 2019, Bianco hinted at bringing the pizzeria to Row DTLA before the pandemic and other complications stymied that project; that was the latest in a series of teases that he would do some rendition of his famous Phoenix restaurant here in LA. Now, Bianco confirms with Eater that he’ll be taking over the former Paramount Coffee Project space in Downtown and installing a full-on version of Pizzeria Bianco there. The oven’s been ordered, the construction will commence shortly, and the ink is now dry on the deal, he says, with an estimated opening in May 2022.
“I have some unfinished business in Los Angeles and I want to give everything I have,” says Bianco, who knows that his short-lived tenure at Tartine Manufactory at the Row and its sister Alameda Supper Club wasn’t the best initial impression on LA. “I’m a city kid. I love this space. I love that it’s in the city center. I see it as a respite, a city park, and I’m excited about it,” the chef and restaurateur says about the forthcoming pizzeria, which will be located inside the massive Downtown project that hosts Smorgasburg on Sundays. “I got a couple of key people coming already with me. I just won’t want to be vague — I won’t want to be ‘kind of like’ anymore,” he says, regarding the constant teasing and hinting that he would open in LA over the past five years. The chef will split his time between Phoenix and LA, and maintains a residence in Hermosa Beach.
The plan right now is to do a close replication of Bianco’s Downtown Phoenix location, which has just six pizzas on the menu, including the iconic pistachio, rosemary, and red onion pie, plus a marinara; margherita; salami and gaeta olives; arugula and cheese; and a fennel sausage with smoked mozzarella. Throw in a few salads, two sandwiches, and a couple small plates to round it out. Bronx-born Bianco will also install an electric deck oven to do things like New York-style slices and other ready-to-eat dishes during the day. Finally, Bianco wants to incorporate some elements of his popular daytime spot Pane Bianco, which has everything from pizza al taglio to a slew of sandwiches on wood-fired bread.
In a way, Angelenos won’t really believe it until they see it, but with a turnkey space and a prime location inside the Row, Pizzeria Bianco will be a sweet addition to the burgeoning dining destination, which just added Kato, and already boasts Michelin-starred Hayato, Pikunico fried chicken, and Rappahannock Oyster Bar, as well as coffee spots Go Get Em Tiger and Cafe Dulce.
“I just want to be part of the fabric of LA in a small 2,000-square-foot space, with about 40 seats. I want it to be as good or better than we’ve ever done, not watered down or anything else,” says Bianco. Nearing the age of 60, Bianco hopes that he will be able to deliver on a promise to Los Angeles that he’s made for a long time, banking on seasonal ingredients that are trademarks LA’s food scene. Once that first pie comes out of the oven sometime later in spring, Angelenos will have a new world-class pizzeria to boast about.