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Phoenix report: Barrio Cafe and Pizzeria Bianco

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Phoenix report: Barrio Cafe and Pizzeria Bianco

nate | Sep 26, 2005 01:06 PM

Just got back from a weekend in Phoenix and thought I'd offer a quick report on the two Chowhound-ish places I ate. Both were good places to eat, although neither was a food epiphany. Interestingly, no non-foodie locals I talked to at the airport, hotel, or various bars had ever heard of either place.

Barrio Cafe:

We got there shortly before they opened on a Saturday, waited in the air conditioned car, then got in with no problems. I had the posole and the Cocinita Pibil (pork), my companion had just the taco plate. The tacos (with came with a small salad) were small to the point of insuffiency: they didn't strike me as anything special. The posole was tasty: I'm more used to red posole, and the green was a nice change. Flavors were fresh if a bit raw. The cocinita, though, was subtle, succulent, and delicious. It wasn't the best pork I've ever had (some pricey Char Siu in Hong Kong was the best, and some tacos al pastor in Mexico City were also better) but it was still _really_ good. Friendly service; room packed with what seemed like mostly older, affluent, white, East Coast transplants.

Pizzeria Bianco:

Got there shortly before they opened on Sunday, but not early enough to be in the first group seated. Probably aim for more than 30 minutes early if you want to avoid a wait (paradoxical, isn't it?). Pleasant, sociable outdoor shady area to wait, though, with most people buying wine in $8 glasses/$30 bottles from the next door wine bar (same owner, nice racket: the longer they wait, the more they buy!). I got a menu from inside which I read over and over, while my dining companion (most sociable man alive) chatted up all 40 or so people in the waiting area. Same general clientele as the Barrio Cafe, although skewed a little younger.

Got in after about an hour, and ordered the antipasto plate, one Wise Guy, and one Biancoverde. Antipasto was medium sized and good, with the cheese covered eggplant taking honors. The pizzas were really good. I liked the slightly charred crusts, but I can see why others might complain. Toppings were first rate and delicious. We each ate a whole pizza, but probably less famished folk could split one, particularly if you also order an appetizer.

Is it the best pizza in the world? No, I've had better in Rome. How about the US? Maybe. I couldn't think of a better one offhand, but then again I haven't had a lot of high end pizzas. In any case, if it is the best it comes at you as a slow elimination of other contenders rather than as a bolt of molten-cheese lightning from the gods.

--nate

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