Pizzeria Bianco - Phoenix, AZ

Lunch - Saturday, March 24, 2012

Chris Bianco is practically a living legend. His eponymous pizzeria has likely received more accolades than any other pizza shop in the country. Its current location, the historic Baird Machine Shop in Phoenix's Heritage Square (where it has been since 1996), is a perfect fit for his rustic, simple, soulful fare.

Previously, waits for dinner seating at this shoebox restaurant would stretch upwards of 3 hours. With the introduction of lunch service sometime last year, I'd heard that the lines had been significantly reduced. Indeed, when we rolled in for lunch at 11.15am on a Saturday, we (luckily) managed to snag the last two seats in the place with no wait.

Javier Plascencia at El Take It Easy - San Diego, CA

Dinner - Monday, March 5, 2012

Javier Plascencia is a man in the spotlight - the chef from Tijuana (who actually attended culinary school right here in San Diego) has garnered numerous accolades in the past year - from a feature on "Mexico, One Plate at a Time", to being the subject of an article in the New York Times and a profile by one of my favourite magazines, the New Yorker. I'd only heard about Plascencia last February, when a post by Street Gourmet LA put him on my radar. His food looked fantastic, and since then, I've been actively looking for an opportunity to try it without crossing the border (visa issues ad nauseum).

Leave it to Jay Porter, outspoken owner of The Linkery and El Take It Easy, to bring Plascencia here for a pop-up dinner at the latter establishment. While I've never found the food at Jay's restaurants particularly compelling, I deeply respect his love of our region's product, and his efforts to promote true farm-to-table cuisine in San Diego. So, perhaps it is unsurprising that we would see this union of the two men, given their common goal of highlighting the local bounty.