I wasn’t gonna write this review because it’s truly unnecessary and not super important but I’m doing it anyway so bear with me while I start explaining something you probably already know in a truly roundabout fashion.
We'll start when my dad’s mom, my grandma Sylvia, died. I was thirteen. Her and my grandpa Sam were best friends with this other couple Sidney and Bernice, and Sid died within like 6 months of Syl, so naturally, Sam and Bernice grieved together. And we all know where that leads.
They were married in their apartment on Miami Beach when I was 16 or 17, judging by my hair in the photos. It wasn’t a legal wedding but they did have a rabbi come bless them and then they threw a party where I got drunk and had the old man band play Summer Wind by Frank Sinatra while I sang.
Anyway, time passed, they went on a lot of cruises, hung out by the side of a pool in Miami, had a very nice life together. In 2012 Sam died and shortly thereafter Bernice moved to Scottsdale, AZ to be near one of her kids. I had visited her all the time in Miami but by the time she moved to Arizona it sort of dropped off. I recorded an audiobook for her, and I called her on the phone plenty, but I just never prioritized getting out to Phoenix. I was talking to my mom about it the last time I was in New York and we decided to go. We planned a short trip, only 48 hours really, but we’d hang out with her the evening we arrived, the entire next day, and the morning before we flew out.
Before we left I got a text from my mom—“Bernice wants to eat pizza. Figure out the best slice in Scottsdale.” So I asked twitter, and twitter told me, almost uniformly, that there’s this place called Pizzeria Bianco that’s in some strip mall in Phoenix and they make the best Neapolitan pies in America. Who would’ve guessed. I texted my mom this article and was like, "I think this is the place."
So I fly in, meet my mom at the airport, whatever whatever. I had intentionally forgotten my toothbrush because I knew that might be the only way to get me to finally buy a new one, so we're driving around having that New York Jew conversation about "I'm hungry are you hungry?"
"I'm not hungry hungry but I could eat."
"What are you in the mood for?"
"I don't care, really I have no preference."
"I don't know about burgers."
"How do you feel about chinese?"
"In Arizona? Never."
It could've been either of us having either side of it. We paused our lunch convo to stop into a strip mall that had a Walgreens to get my damn toothbrush. I ended up driving so far afield looking for a spot big enough that I wouldn't be scared someone might scratch our rental car that when I finally pulled into one we were across the parking lot from where the Walgreens was. That's when my mom was like, "isn't that the pizza place you were talking about?"
I didn't take a picture of it, because like I said, I wasn't planning to write this review, so you'll have to settle for this screenshot of a map. Suffice to say, this is NOT what I expected the place that serves "the best neapolitan pizza in America" to look like. But we went in anyway and ordered three pies.
From left to right that's your classic Margherita, a Sonny Boy (a red sauce pie with hot salami and kalamata olives), and the signature Biancoverde (a white pie with fresh ricotta, fresh moz, arugula, and olive oil). If you can't tell from the pictures, these pies were fucking perfect. It's a rare thing in this awful world to experience a moment of perfection, and it can be a little unsettling. Ma Harvester and I looked from pie to pie, shocked, unable to speak for a few moments after our first bites. I have never in my life tasted a pizza dough this delicate. It was crisp and firm on the bottom, though there was still that nice elastic pull that a good bread has, but it was so light. The other ingredients were top notch. The red sauce on the Margherita was incredible. Lightly spiced so that the full flavor of the delicious tomatoes they use could really shine. The mozzerella tasted fresh and had a wonderful texture. The basil leaves seemed like they could've been picked moments before they hit the pie. The Sonny Boy had the same base as the Margherita, but with hot salami and kalamatas, both fantastic as well.
But the real standout was the Biancoverde. This is probably the best ricotta I've ever had. The moz and dough are the same high quality as on the other pies, and the absence of a sauce let the olive oil's round, green apple flavor really shine. Ma Harv, a master gardener btw, was really impressed with the quality of the arugula and claimed she had never had a white pie with arugula on it before. I was unsure, but she checked me, "I've had prosciutto arugula pies, but every white pie I've ever had was made with spinach or broccoli rabe. The sharpness of the arugula really makes for a nice contrast with the full rounder flavors of the cheese and olive oil." I'm still unsure if arugula on white pies is common or not so if you wanna @ me just to tell me my mom's wrong why don't you just go fuck yourself instead, huh? The important thing is that these pies were so good we had to bring them to Bernice. We got three more of the same to go and headed over to her place.
I'm really glad we got to eat them fresh out the oven, because they certainly suffered a bit in transit. Neapolitan pies are meant to be eaten fresh, but they were still good and Bernice didn't care, and that's the most important part of all this. I'll leave you with her review. Notice her start to talk shit about all the other pizza in Phoenix and then stop herself. That's because she's a classy lady who doesn't relish every opportunity to badmouth people for cheap laughs, unlike me, a jerk. Let's all be more like Bernice and less like me in 2018.