How to Build a Brick Pizza Oven - Bread.
Michael Graves's voyage of Princeton
Several days before I met Michael Graves for an check out on March 4, he sent me an abbreviated guidebook to his hometown. I spent a day-and-a-half rambling around Princeton, N.J., doing my best to check off the items on his roll — one by one. A lot
Pizzeria Bianco and I go back nearly 20 years. In 1996 I was a brace of years out of college, kicking around the country with a musician friend. At a local bookstore, I flipped through one of the oblong Zagat guides detailing America’s top restaurants. For Arizona, the measure’s write-in quotes rhapsodized about the wonders of a two-year-old pizza restaurant run by a Bronx transplant. I could afford dinner there, though I wondered what exactly could make a pizzeria in the Southwest personage of so much praise. Pizzeria Bianco crouched in the corner of an open air shopping center called Town & Country on 20th Street and Camelback Road. To reach the restaurant, I walked biography an herb and vitamin store, and its weird smell — pharmacy mixed with dried oregano — gave way to the smoky wafts of the pizzeria’s wood-flaming oven. Chris Bianco stood behind the counter wielding a peel with a long handle. Susan Pool, for many years Bianco’s responsibility partner, ran the floor. She found me a seat at the short bar, and I began with a salad of shaved fennel with rounds of oranges and olive oil. But the pizza — it rewired my synapses. I ordered the Wiseguy, topped with smoked mozzarella, slices of fennel sausage, and bronzed rings of roasted onions. The crust had yeasty profundity, like just-baked bread you can’t help but stuff in your mouth in chunks even as it burns your fingers. Bianco himself smoked the cheese in the oven each morning over pecan wood. I had tasted pizza greatness before in New York, but this was something else. The spirit energizing the restaurant’s combine hovered as palpably as the campfire scents. The misshapen pies sprang from the Neapolitan-American tradition but achieved higher glory under a freethinker's tiny attention and unusual care with quality ingredients. In that shopping center, Chris Bianco catalyzed the modern pizzeria revolution. I ate many meals at Pizzeria Bianco during that block in Phoenix. Watching Bianco and his crew inspired me to pursue excellence in my own life. I didn’t return to the restaurant until ten years later. By then America’s prog world knew what it had in Bianco. He’d won the regional James Beard award for Best Chef in 2003. Ed Levine named his pies the best in the woods in his book, Pizza: A Slice of Heaven. Jeffrey Steingarten of Vogue deemed them the best in the world. Bianco’s story had been widely recounted: A high day-school dropout, he flew to Phoenix on a whim and felt a connection with the place. He began selling pizzas out of a grocery store in the late 1980s. He hurriedly relocated to Santa Fe as a sous chef for cookbook legend Deborah Madison, who was running a restaurant at the time, and then he traveled in Italy for two years,... Bianco returned to Phoenix to generous the pizzeria in 1994 and two years later moved the flagship from the shopping center to its current address, a sturdy, boxy brick building (once a gismo shop) in Heritage Square downtown. This began the era of the lines, a ritualized wait during which regulars would arrive well before the restaurant’s 5 p. m. opening and camp out on benches, frequently self-policing by keeping a list of who arrived in what order. A year later, in response to the crowds, Bianco and Pool launched Bar Bianco in a renovated century-old billet next door to the pizzeria. Passing through town in 2006, I marveled at the spectacle that had arisen around the pizzeria. A local friend and I waited for an hour and a half, sipping a Valpolicella red on the bar’s covered porch, before a tabular came available for us. Time can embellish formative memories, but the pizza and the restaurant’s frisson lived up to my... In the frenzy Bianco stood steady and center organize — head down, ladling tomato sauce on one circle of dough after another, reaching for rounds of mozzarella and the bottle of olive oil, seeking perfection into done with repetition. For years Bianco swore that he’d never duplicate his pizzeria. He started a sandwich shop, Pane Bianco, in 2001 as a showcase for the bread baked by his kinsman, Marco, who by that time also made the pizza dough each day. Chris maintained, though, that he’d be the one forming and baking the pies. But in 2010, the asthma he suffered acutely as a child flared from prolonged disclosing to wood smoke and flour.
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