TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Chris Bianco is friends with the likes of ABC's primetime anchor Diane Sawyer and late night funny man Jimmy Kimmel.
His world famous pizza also has presidential approval.
"One of the great benefits we got out of it was your buddy with the pizza business there," former President Bill Clinton said as a guest on Jimmy Kimmel Live in April.
"My buddy Chris Bianco, yes, made pizzas," Kimmel said.
"I would have asked you sooner if i'd known about that," Clinton said with a chuckle about visiting Phoenix.
Now Bianco has opened his third Pizzeria Bianco in the heart of downtown. It is a brand new restaurant that at the center of the city's revitalization.
"Why Tucson?" 9 on Your Side asked Bianco, hours before the grand opening Thursday.
"Why not Tucson," he replied.
Before the first pie came out of the wood-fired oven at the Congress St. location, fans like Emmie Schrantz were chomping at the bit to give the new restaurant a try.
"Honestly, I think its mostly the soul that goes into it because he loves what he does," Schrantz said.
Inspired by his New York roots and time spent in Italy, Arizona has been Bianco's home since his early 20s.
"We've always been driven to do things that make sense to us as far as flavor profiles, you know doing things that are local and organic," Bianco said.
The New York Times has called his pizza "perhaps the best in America." In 2003, the popular Phoenix-based chef won the prestigious James Beard award for the best chef in the Southwest, something no other pizza chef has ever done.
"I'm grateful to always be recognized," he said, "well you wont see anything hanging up in the restaurant of accolades."
"How much did today's grand opening have to do with the timing of the streetcar launching tomorrow?" 9 On Your Side asked Bianco.
"Well I would love to say in my brilliant forecasting it was a plan," he said, "I think it was just some kind of serendipitous happening."
For now, it is first come, first serve to fill the 52-seat restaurant. Bianco plans to offer reservations down the road.