Ah Beetz – Abbotsford, BC

2664 Gladys Ave
Abbotsford, BC
(604) 746-2121

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.

Ah-Beetz on Urbanspoon

18 thoughts on “Ah Beetz – Abbotsford, BC

  1. I have been trying to get several of the local food bloggers to go to Ah-Beetz since late summer and every single time *something* happens, more often than not, cancellations. I won’t mind going by myself; however, that would mean ordering a single type and, to a certain extent, not that representative of it. I guess, if push comes to shove… Thanks for letting us know how it is! 😀

  2. Ahh Gastro – i wish you had told me this a few weeks ago. On my way through Van, i would’ve driven out there for sure!!

    Looks excellent though. Good pizza to model on, and good looking char. Thanks for the insight.

    Oh KH, if you go on your own, nothing is limiting you to a single type. I typically order 3 or 4 for myself at Pizzeria Bianco when i go. Good pizza is worth it 🙂

  3. I have followed Terry’s trials and tribulations since before he opened his restaurant. He subscribes to a pizza making forum and from his posts I could see that he was a perfectionist about NY style pizza. It was no surprise to me that the pizza was the real deal when I finally had a chance to try it.

    He is currently experimenting with making his own salumi for toppings. He also makes his own fior di latte when the mood strikes him.

  4. JS and I wanted to go to Di Fara’s this summer when we were in NYC, but couldn’t get enough time to do so. It’s still definitely on the to-do list… just hoping that old-timer doesn’t retire soon! (The store is closed more days now, supposedly.)

  5. CheapAppetite, believe it or not, pizza in this style is almost invariably “sourdough”.

    Most premium(*) pizza joints have to premake their dough ahead of time and they leave their dough balls in the fridge overnight or at least for a few hours. The sour flavour develops during this resting time (it also aids in gluten formation through a natural process called “autolyse”. )

    The balls are taken out a few hours ahead of time to come up to room temperature – and by that time the dough has developed a subtle tang. They really aren’t intending to make sourdough – it is by necessity that they follow this process. The tang has become part of the signature flavour of the NY pie. Some pies are more tangy than others – depending on the maker and process. Terry uses a true natural sourdough leaven which makes the tang more pronounced.

    Also to add that true Neapolitan pizza (the pizza that NY pizza initially attempted to replicate) is quite often sourdough in nature in process and in the use of wild-leavening.

    (*)I’m not talking about Boston Pizzas and their institutional kin, obviously, but craft pizzas made by real pizzaiolo eg: A16, Pizzeria Bianco, Patsy’s (Grimaldi’s), Serious Pie, Apizza Scholls, etc.

  6. Actually, sourdough is just a term for wild yeast and naturally leavened bread and does not necessarily mean the finished product will be sour. Wild yeast found in the air has different characteristics in ever part of the world with some being very sour like a San Fransisco sourdough or some that have almost no or very mild sour flavor like mine.
    Only naturally leavened bread can be called sourdough. Places like Pizzeria Bianco, Apizza Scholls, Patsy’s etc. use a pre-ferment technique in the form of either a biga or poolish or perhaps even a chunk of the previous days dough. This is not sourdough as they use commercial yeast.

    • Terry – was wondering if you would be open to answering a few questions?
      Im particularly curious about what you feel the differences are between naturally leavened and commerical/bakers yeast as they relate to pizza dough. I believe i understand the differences in terms of taste development and perceived health benefits in bread, but was wondering what your thoughts on this are. I know you feel the taste is more complex and wonderful, but in what way? How does it impact time in the oven, and temperature of the oven? Texture?

      Any information you can provide would be appreciated.

      • Sure, well I feel that naturally leavened pizza has a lighter crispiness than one made with commercial yeast. Of course there are many factors like hydration, baking temp, mixing technique etc.. But, I do think it makes a difference.

        • Hmm – well, i will definitely make the trip out next time im in Van. Im very excited at your passion and dedication. Does DiFara’s use a naturally leavened dough as well?

  7. Hey Terry!

    Nice to see you around these parts. Thanks for that clarification.

    There is no question that you develop a more complex flavour with longer fermentation time. To my tastebuds much of this flavour is a subtle “sourness”.

  8. Pingback: Ah-Beetz | I'm Only Here for the Food!

  9. We just ordered 2 pizzas from there and they are THE BEST pizza we have ever tasted. This is our new pizza place that we will only order from. WOOHOO

  10. Thanks, Terry and Heather, for your AMAZING pizza. It was worth the hour wait! Please move closer to Vancouver!!
    Carmen And Brendan

  11. Pingback: Pizzeria Barbarella – Vancouver, BC « f o o d o s o p h y

  12. Gruesome!!! This is the worst we have ever eaten. It’s under new ownership and it is NOTHING like what these people say. We had to throw it out. What a waste of money! We all felt ill after trying it. When I asked the owners what “New York Style” meant they said, “…because the toppings go on top.” They had no clue.

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