Especially if you’re a fan of David Portnoy, the globe-trotting pizza aficionado who recently chose a Palm Beach County restaurant as one of his favorite spots to find authentic apizza outside New Haven, Connecticut — a city oft considered ground zero for some of the best Neapolitan-inspired pies in the country.
Those familiar with Portnoy’s Barstool Sports “One Bite Pizza Reviews” — also posted to a YouTube channel with more than 900,000 subscribers — look to Portnoy for his reviews on pizzerias and their ability to meet his pie-approval standards made with just “one bite.”
For Portnoy, that now includes Ah-Beetz, a Delray Beach pizzeria he gave an 8.4 score for what he says is a first for a restaurant located outside the Connecticut city. He admits he’s struggled to find New Haven-style pizza outside New Haven.
New Haven is home to several of the nation’s most lauded pizzerias, including Sally’s, Modern, and Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana, which opened its first Florida outpost earlier this year in Plantation. They each offer their take on the traditional pizza cooked in coal fired ovens which boasts a thin, smoky charred crust paired with a light layer of tomato sauce and a sprinkling of Parmesan and Pecorino Romano or mozzarella cheeses.
To date, Portnoy has rated dozens of South Florida pizza restaurants above an 8.0, offering top ratings to restaurants including Miami’s Mister 01, Lucali, Eleventh Street Pizza, and Block’s Pizza Deli, as well as Palm Beach- and Broward-based Tucci’s Fire N’ Coal Pizza, Heritage, and Pizza Craft Artisan Pizzeria.
None, however, have delivered a New Haven-style apizza except for Ah-Beetz, which opened last May at 15200 Jog Road, according to Portnoy.
In his March review, Portnoy shares: “If you see apizza, that means drop your drawers, drop your drink, drop your balls, and run — because they have the best pizza in the world. I’ve been to Italy — and the best pizza is in New Haven, period. This is the best-feeling New Haven pizza I’ve had outside New Haven, or at least in the Florida area.”
Since Portnoy’s visit, the restaurant’s owners say the business has received an influx of customers that have forced them to temporarily disable their delivery and ordering app, and suspend phone-in orders beyond what the restaurant’s small staff can handle each day.
According to the Ah-Beetz team — owners Cassandra Frantz and father-and-son founders Nick Laudano senior and Nick Laudano junior — Portnoy’s review has become a blessing for their small business that aims to offer an authentic taste of New Haven-style pizza in South Florida.
On a recent Wednesday afternoon, as staff worked diligently to prep for a 4:30 p.m. opening, a steady stream of inquisitive customers stopped by in an attempt to place orders and look around.
“This is all day, every day since Portnoy posted his video. People have driven as far as Fort Myers — even Georgia,” Laudano junior tells New Times. “We’ve been doing about 300 to 360 pies a night.”
“Business has increased massively, and we are beyond grateful. We’ve always been big fans of Portnoy, and to get his stamp of approval has been a blessing,” adds Frantz.
Ah-Beetz is the family’s newest endeavor, currently operated by Laudano junior, also the restaurant’s lead pizza chef who has been crafting New Haven-style pies for nearly 30 years, and Frantz, a family member who also hails from the New Haven area.
The Ah-Beetz pies are made using a simple, proprietary recipe. One thing Laudano is sure to mention: there’s no fancy water. His process yields a supple dough that is hand shaped and pulled, and chars to perfection at temperatures as high as 780 degrees.
The short and sweet menu presents the gamut of traditional appiza offerings. They include a classic tomato pie topped with tomato sauce, Pecorino Romano, fresh oregano, and olive oil; the “Mootz,” prepared with tomato sauce, Pecorino Romano, oregano, and mozzarella; and the white clam, a sauceless pie topped with oregano, garlic, olive oil, Pecorino Romano, mozzarella, and New England-sourced clams that arrive fresh several times each week and shucked in-house daily.
More than a dozen toppings allows customers to build their own pies with meats like pepperoni, sausage, bacon, and chicken, alongside vegetables like broccolini, cherry peppers, mushrooms, and spinach.
“What sets us apart [is that] most of the people that work here are from New Haven,” sums up Frantz. “Making this type of pizza is a craft. This is a family business, and a lot of work has gone into creating the pies you taste here. These are their recipes, their ovens, and their design. This is true New Haven apizza.”
Ah-Beetz. 15200 Jog Rd., Delray Beach; 561-908-2466; ah-beetz.com. Open 4:30 to 9 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, and 1 to 8 p.m. Sunday.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by PostX News and is published from a syndicated feed.)