By Kelly Vaughn | Photo by Paul Markow
Chris Bianco has a lot going for him: a handful of successful Arizona restaurants, an adorable family, worldwide acclaim, a James Beard Award, a loyal Instagram following and praise from marquee chefs such as Mario Batali, who once replied to a tweet inquiring about Italian food in Phoenix with “Chris Bianco is heroic!”
Indeed, the man does things with pasta and pizza that even hard-core Italophiles can only dream about. And with Tratto, he’s expanding his hold on the bellies of his believers. Open only for dinner Tuesdays through Saturdays, the restaurant, located right next to Pizzeria Bianco in the Town & Country shopping center, seats only about 30 people. Reservations are very, very recommended.
On a summer Wednesday, early-evening light pours into the small space through a wall-sized window, sneaking into the corners, where whitewashed floors meet whitewashed walls decorated with original art. Bianco and his father are painters, and the creative theme for Tratto seems to be chairs. It makes sense, really. Sit, stay awhile, EAT.
Bright bowls of citrus add color and charm to the room, and a bar with views to the kitchen means that eager diners can catch a glimpse of the man and his well-trained sous-chefs at work.
Tratto’s menu changes regularly, based on availability of the locally sourced vegetables, meat and other staples Bianco relies on. During our visit, my friend and I choose to share three — four, if we count the tiramisu — courses.
The first, a plate of summer greens topped with card-sized shavings of Parmesan cheese and an airy vinaigrette, complements rustic bread and a small olive plate. The cheese is too plentiful, so we leave it behind, moving on to the next course.
That one, buttery garganelli pasta bathed in creamy marinara and flecked with fresh basil, gives us another dose of Parmesan. This time, though, it’s melted into the sauce, creating another gustatory layer and proving that Bianco is the master of taking what might be an ordinary dish elsewhere and turning it into something complexly flavorful.
The salad and pasta are enough to make a meal at Tratto, but when the pork chop arrives, we can’t put our forks down. Drizzled in a light sauce with fava beans and tomato, the chop is thick, but fall-off-the-bone tender and a fine predecessor to the fourth and final course, the tiramisu.
One word: heroic.
Tratto is located at 4743 N. 20th Street in Phoenix. For more information, call 602-296-7761 or visit www.trattophx.com.