I don't need you, Chris Bianco.
I don't need your pizzeria and your pies with charming names. I don't need your house-smoked mozzarella or peppery arugula or fennel sausage or fruity olive oil, and I especially don't need your bubbly, toothsome crust made with spring water from the streams that babble beside Mount Vesuvius. I am so over you.
Here's how it unfolded. Thursday. We arrive at Pizzeria Bianco at 5:10. We get a spot in the parking lot, which is a minor miracle since there are only 14 of them. There's a short line of people in front of the restaurant - 8 or 9 - waiting to give their names to the hostess. Five reasonable minutes later, I give her my name. She couldn't have been cuter or nicer. I have good, uplifting feelings already (the fact that I listened to a Jesus rock station on the way there, which touted itself as "positive, encouraging KLUV" may have contributed to the I-love-everyone vibe).
But then she delivers the poison: you're looking at a 3 hour wait, she says. You can leave as long as you check in by phone every hour. Go do some errands. Go see a movie.
I walk back to deliver the news. Before the last sentence clears my mouth, my husband says, "I'm not waiting 3 hours for pizza." But I'm way ahead of him.
"Of course you're not! So here's the plan." When it comes to problem solving, my brain is Usain Bolt fast if I want something bad.
"I'll come back tomorrow at 3:15 and put our names in. Then I'll drive back to the hotel and get you guys. By the time we get back to the restaurant, we'll just make the 5:00 seating. And I won't put anyone through crazy wait times." Agreed. But also perturbed because an hour has just been wasted in the car, Jesus rock or no Jesus rock.
After I devise the plan, I spend the next 24 hours going over it in my head. Incessantly. Obsessively. I have trouble falling asleep.
Friday. I drop my family off at Cracker Jax Fun Park at 3:00. My husband and son have decided to forego their Wiseguys (wood roasted onion, house smoked mozzarella, fennel sausage) for 18 holes. So it's just me and my daughter, who is too young to understand how insane this really is.
I drive back to Pizzeria Bianco by myself, convinced my plan will work. When I get there at 3:35, there are about 30 people waiting, not in lines, but milling around in the courtyard area. I double park and walk up to the door. The plan is to get my name on the list, then head back to Cracker Jax. But no one's there to take names. My plan is starting to unravel, I just don't know it yet.
In a perfect world, I would have stayed and waited. I stood for hours waiting for The Who and The Stones to arrive. I could stand here for a few hours for a Sonny Boy (tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, salami, gaeta olives). But my husband's tee time is at 4:30 and I have to chauffeur them from Cracker Jax to the golf course before heading back for my perfect market salad, a few slices of the best pizza in the world and a beer to wash it all down.
With positive, encouraging KLUV as my co-pilot, I do all the necessary pick-ups and drop-offs and head back to Pizzeria Bianco, daughter in tow. I have now spent two hours driving back and forth and have accomplished nothing.
As soon as I see the line, I am only slightly discouraged. It's about 100 people long, and now definitely a line. The restaurant hasn't opened yet, and they're still not taking names. It's 4:45.
Finally, at a few moments past 5:00, the door opens and that cute, nice hostess comes out. The people at the front of the line start filing in. I can feel their anticipation at claiming the elusive prize. I'm also listening to some native Phoenicians behind me telling some visiting Minnesotans how the wait is so worth it. SO worth it. It is so worth it.
Time passes. 30 minutes. 35. 40. The line is creeping forward as the hostess happily takes names. My daughter is a little bleary-eyed but she's entertaining herself with the games on my cel phone. We're still at least 20 people back from officially becoming members of the seriously disturbed group that would wait 4 hours for a pizza.
A different hostess, this one obviously the enforcer, comes our way. She yells in a frank tone she's probably become accustomed to.
"Just to let you all know, the wait for the people at the front of the line is now 4 hours!"
So that means for us, 20 people back, it could be 4 1/2 hours. Or even 5. And that's not including the 45 minutes I've already stood there, shifting my weight back and forth. Or the 2 hours I've zigzagged across the Arizona highway system today. Not to mention the one hour yesterday in the car when I had to listen to some woman on KLUV talk about how she cried when she met Jesus.
And so my relationship with Pizzeria Bianco ended. It wasn't emotional; it just was. We ended up finding another pizza place, Grimaldi's. They played Connie Francis and Frank Sinatra, and had parmesan cheese shakers on the red and white checkered tablecloths.
When I asked my daughter how she liked her pizza, she said, "It almost made me cry." So it goes with pizza.