(Update 12/14/2016: Monello changed their name to Anello. Opening is now scheduled for early January. For more information, visit anello.space.)
Although pizza legend Chris Bianco hasn’t found the perfect spot to reopen in Tucson yet, a slice of his legacy will live on regardless through his former pizzaiolo (pizza maker) Scott Girod.
Pizzeria Bianco closed its downtown Tucson location two months ago, but Girod didn’t want to start over in Phoenix or wait around. He’s opening his own pizzeria Monello at 222 E. 6th St. by the end of December.
Girod worked at Pizzeria Bianco the past two years, but had two additional years of experience at Pizzeria Bianco Town & Country in Phoenix.
“I thought Chris was going to show up at my door with a pizza peel and kill me,” Girod said jokingly. “But he’s been supportive and encouraging.”
Beer neighbors Crooked Tooth Brewing Co. and Tap & Bottle have been excited and very welcoming, Girod said. With Crooked Tooth next door, Monello will walk pizzas over and maintain a symbiotic relationship.
“The Tucson community is so much stronger,” Girod said. Tucson’s mountain scenery and comparatively-less traffic are additional reasons he chose to stay in Tucson.
Monello’s half-page menu highlights Girod’s emphasis on quality and locality. Mozzarella curds will be stretched in-house, while peak season vegetables will be utilized in items such as pickles or tomato jam.
Traditionally imported items will be domestic as well. Olive oil will be sourced from Queen Creek Olive Mill. Iowa-based La Quercia Prosciutto ($5) and Spicy Coppa ($4) will be available as optional toppings. The canned tomatoes might end up being Chris Bianco’s Bianco DiNapoli.
Though the quality ingredients are expensive, Girod wants to strike the middle ground to make sure Monello is still accessible and affordable enough to be a reasonable option for families.
Ambiance will be dark and intimate with a focus on the food, Girod said. The wood fired oven will be complemented by a wooden community table that seats 12 people.
The tiny 900-square-foot space, which formerly housed clothing store Thee Collection Agency and Moen Mason Gallery, will seat only 25 people.
Staff will also be small with a single server and fellow Pizzeria Bianco alumnus Elmer Alvarez, who also cooked at North Italia and Grimaldi’s Pizzeria.
The beverage menu will include Mexican Coke, Topo Chiko, house lemonade, ginger beer, bottled beers, wine by the glass, and digestives such as amaro. The liquor license is expected to be approved by the end of January.
Operating hours will be 5 – 9 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 5 – 10 p.m. Friday through Saturday.
- Pickles – bowl of local organic brined or marinated vegetables ($3)
- Smoked Candied Nuts – spicy pecans with honey rosemary pistachios ($3)
- Seasonal Veggies – local organic roasted, grilled, or raw vegetables ($6)
- Nara Pizza – tomato sauce, garlic, oregano, olive oil, basil ($11)
- Marge Pizza – tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, olive oil, basil ($11)
- Burt Pizza – fresh mozzarella, garlic, olive oil, basil ($11)
- Flourless Almond Cake – soaked in cardamom syrup ($6)
- Gelato – three scoops, rotating flavors ($3)
Monello has no website or social media yet, but feel free to follow construction progress on Girod’s Instagram page.