A storied American pizza maker is distancing himself ever so slightly from the very thing that shaped his career, the New York Times reports. Chris Bianco, the chef behind Phoenix’s acclaimed Pizzeria Bianco, which currently lives on the National Eater 38, opened a new restaurant concept in May that (shocker) does not serve pizza.
The move has a great deal to do with a health issue that sidelined Bianco six years ago.
A lifelong asthmatic, the James Beard Award-winning chef had a flare-up in 2010 due to prolonged exposure to flour in the bakery and wood smoke from his pizza ovens. He recently stepped away from the kitchen for a period of time to focus on running his businesses.
The issue, which Bianco calls “bakers lung,” gave him the chance to rethink his business, he told the Times. He launched some new concepts, including one called Italian Restaurant in the shopping center where he first opened Pizzeria Bianco that focused on pasta, antipasti, and salads. But it didn’t draw the same crowds as his original concept, and he ended up adding pizzas to the menu and hanging a “Pizzeria Bianco” sign on the facade, as previously reported.
It was an understandable move. Bianco’s pizzas have a loyal following, and there are highly specific elements that go into crafting each pie. And while Bianco’s newer place, Tratto, is located next door to that restaurant, it does not serve pizza.
Instead, the restaurant has a simple, one-page menu, the Times reports, which falls under the direction of Bianco’s chef, Anthony Andiario. Bianco himself still works the line at Tratto, but for the sake of his health, he keeps away from the pizza ovens. Still, his pies live on at two locations of Pizzeria Bianco in Phoenix.
• A Legendary Pizza Maker Steps Away From the Fire [NYT]
• The National Eater 38 [E]
• 20 Years In, Chris Bianco Is Still America's Best Pizza Maker [E]
• Eater Elements: Chris Bianco on His Pizza Rosa [E]