Bianco's Italian Restaurant: Low-Key, Fabulous Food, and Sipping the Olive Oil Is Acceptable
|Get This: Devil's Gulch Pork Shank, Kamut, Brussels Sprouts|
Restaurant: Italian Restaurant
Location: 4743 North 20th Street (Town and Country Shopping Center)
Open: Just over three weeks
Price point: $31-$60
Last October, rumors were flying, then were confirmed, that legendary pizza master Chris Bianco was planning to open a trattoria in Central Phoenix. And on January 16, he did just that.
His much-buzzed-about new restaurant, called Italian Restaurant, is in Town and Country Shopping Center (Camelback Road and 20th Street), the same shopping center that, in 1994, was the original home of Pizzeria Bianco before it landed two years later at 623 East Adams Street in downtown's Heritage Square.
Featuring traditional Italian favorites as well as Italian-American creations on a small menu that changes daily and is fueled by top-notch ingredients, Bianco's got chef Claudio Urciuoli (the former Prado chef hired in 2010 by Bianco) at the helm, as well as Bianco's mother, Francesca, who occasionally lends a hand and makes the desserts.
Let's go in and have a bite, shall we?
|Italian Restaurant's bustling scene.|
"Everything we serve here is as fresh as humanly possible."
This phrase, or something like it, will be uttered by your waiter as you're seated. And, upon each bite of your ensuing dish, or dishes, this fact will be verified by your taste buds. Breads, pasta, and cheeses are made in house, vegetables and fruits are purchased only when in season, seafood is caught wild, and top-notch meat is free-range and natural.
|Orange and fennel salad with Guaymas shrimp.|
There is a fresh orange and fennel salad with perfectly cooked shrimp (with their heads still attached, I might add) from the shrimp-fishing port of Guaymas, in Sonora, Mexico. Pieces of large-leaf parsley offset the sweetness of the juicy orange slices, now in season, making for a lovely array of tastes and textures.
Despite nearly being driven mad by the smell of fresh basil from spaghetti dishes passing by my table, I stuck with my decision to order of the roasted pork shank from Devil's Gulch in Marin County, California. I was glad I did. One touch of the shank, roasted up to six hours, with my fork and it opened up like a meaty flower, tender beyond tender and touched with a sweetness that made bites of the accompanying Brussels sprouts and large, nutty pieces of kamut (considered by many to be the great-great-grandfather of grains) a comforting collection of tastes. I wished it would've lasted longer.