Ah Beetz – Abbotsford, BC
2664 Gladys Ave
Vancouver’s lack of decent pizza is well known amongst the city’s foodie circles. It’s hard to explain the dearth of a good slice. After all, the city is known for its vibrant food scene…and one would think that some of this energy would have rubbed off on pizza. Sure there are a few bright spots, but compared to a city of similar size like Portland OR, the Vancouver pizza scene is a wasteland.
The typical Vancouver pizza slice is greasy; the crust thick, cakey and doughy; and the toppings are institutional-grade (think “cheese” and “salami”).
Ah Beetz is a pizzeria about an hour’s drive away in Abbotsford. It has some underground cred: Vancouver Pizza fanatics have been known to drive this way just to get a decent slice of NY style pizza.
I won’t expound on what makes a pizza “New York Style” as the internet is full of this information. However, what I will say is that this is the real deal…but with a few twists.
Terry Deane, the pizzaiolo here, studied Jazz music in NYC for a number of years. While living there, he developed a taste and passion for the NY slice – in particular, the pizza at Di Fara’s where Domenic Demarco – the revered pizzaiolo there – has been creating the quintessential NY pie for decades.
Upon returning home to Abbotsford, Terry became obsessed with recreating this style of pizza at a shop of his own. With some experimentation, he has eventually created an authentic homage to this style.
He called his place Ah-Beetz as a phonetic inside joke on how the word pizza is pronounced and spelled in and around the Northeast. In New Haven, for example, pizza is often spelled “Apizza” – and as a matter of interest has an indigenous style of pizza with a charred crust similar to the crust Terry has developed.
Terry uses his own sourdough starter to leaven his dough. The dough is left to slowly ferment for one to two days depending on the ambient temperature. This fermentation imparts a pleasant tartness to the crust. It also aids in the formation of the glutens required to make the dough more workable so it can be stretched very thin.
He uses an standard Garland deck oven set to 700F – a much higher temperature than a typical Vancouver pizza oven which is often set at perhaps 350F or slightly more.
This temperature setting scorches the bottom of the crust until you get the desired “leoparding” – the black spots common to some of the premium NY pizza places like Di Fara’s. The crust is resilient and “foldable” and tastes slightly smokey – but not at all bitter (as it looks). The toppings are all of high quality and well selected to balance the flavour and texture of the crust.
Is it worth the drive to Abbotsford? It sure is.