2664 Gladys Avenue
So far are you willing to drive for good eats? 10 Km? 25 Km? 50 Km? How about driving that distance for pizza? What? Yup, you got that right, pizza! While we have a lot of pizza shops in Vancouver, the general opinion is that we could do better. So, “looking around”, I became aware Ah-Beetz, a pizza shop, in Abbotsford, out of all places, which makes authentic New York style pizza. That claim made me curious enough to make that trip!
But, going there by myself… I mean, if it was one or four of us, it would take almost as much gas and one can only eat that much pizza, right? That’s why I wanted, ahem, volunteers. So, a couple of months ago, I dropped an email to some fellow food bloggers checking with them if there was any interest to do exactly that. While there was, we couldn’t agree in where/when and other logistic details. Those plans were hanging on and on until gastronomydomine of f o o d o s o p h y wrote about it. At that point, I knew I had to go no matter what – even if that meant going by myself and having only one type of pizza. Fortunately, Sherman of Sherman’s Food Adventures and frequent commenter Anita were interested as well… So, a short road trip it was!
Update: Sherman’s post is here!
This small pizza shop is operated by a husband-and-wife team: Terry and Heather Deane. As soon as we stepped in, you could feel the passion behind the pizza and its making. No making a pizza in a rush to throw it in an oven and the put it in a box for delivery. Now, the pizza was made with patience and love. While we were taking this pictures, Terry did not seem fazed or curious as to why we wanted to take pictures. After all, the previous week somebody asked to film him in action… Wait, film?! When we heard that, I had an odd hunch which was confirmed when, later while eating our pies, the name “Kevin” was mentioned. Yes, THAT Kevin! Anyway…
But back to the pizzas. We decided to order two small pizzas rather than a large one. That way, we thought, we could try more than one type. I personally asked for the one above – Margherita: tomato sauce, aged mozzarella, fior di latte, extra virgin olive oil, fresh basil & Grana Padano. I did so based on the principle of simplicity. When we received it, rather than dig in right away, we started to take closer looks. First noticeable thing? Its thinness:
Yup, it is THAT thin! If you stack more than three credit cards or a couple of paper napkins, that would be thicker that this pizza! At that point, Terry made mention of another important characteristic and, to find out, we had to lift the pie and look at the bottom:
This effect is called “leoparding” or “leopard spotting”. I will not even try to explain it other than to provide this link.
But, back to the pizza. I think I don’t have an easy way to describe it, specially because I can’t make any analogy based on any pizza I have tried in Vancouver. Let’s start with the dough. While it has some crispiness to it, it wasn’t 100% crispy as in a cracker. Also, it wasn’t dough-y as in bread. And, add to all that, it has a slight elastic texture that made each bite bounce slightly. And, ah, the ingredients… As mentioned, simplicity as it best. All the ingredients were flavourful, starting with a hint of sourness from the dough, some savoury-ness of the cheese, a slight sweetness from the tomatoes, some fragrance from the basil. None of the ingredients overpowered the other and, instead, everything were complementing each other with each bite. As mentioned, simplicity at its best…
The second pizza we ordered was the Di Fara: pepperoni, artichoke hearts, tomato sauce, aged mozzarella, fior di latte, lots of fresh basil, lots of extra virgin olive oil & lots of Grana Padano. The difference between this and the Margherita is the addition of artichoke and pepperoni. These two extra ingredients were enough to make it different in its own ways: the artichokes in the form of a different texture and the pepperoni in the way of a contrasting flavour. For example, see the extra “fat” from the pepperoni? Yes, it was good… (drool).
Unlike other mass produced pizzas, there wasn’t a “poodle” of oil at the bottom.
Yup, that’s basil… Freshly cut after it is out of the oven!
Some of the meats, they prepare it themselves!
There were a total of 16 slices and we estimate Sherman and I had 6 each while Anita had 4. Did I mention some of us are heavy eaters? OK, OK, actually, their pizzas are quite light and I could swear I could have eaten an extra two slices more. But, still, delicious… (drool again).
After our pizzas, we were chatting a little bit and Terry and Heather gave us more details of their operations. How about some of the ingredients made by themselves or, as seen above, use freshly cut basil? Did I mention they have to prepare some of the ingredients with enough advance? In fact, if they run out of dough for that day, that’s it! Why this rather than getting them from a local producer? One of the reasons is consistency – by preparing it themselves, they have full control over the product.
Terry, Heather, thanks for sharing your passion. It was education, not to mention delicious!