The Firewood Cafe (Gourmet Pizza)

Restaurant: The Firewood Cafe
Cuisine: Pizza/Italian/Gourmet Pizza/Eclectic
Last visited: September 19, 2010
Location: Vancouver, BC (Fairview, Cambie)
Address: 3004 Cambie Street (Cambie & 14th)
Price Range: $10-20

1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: Tres Excellent!!

Food: 4
Service: 5 (sat at counter)
Ambiance: 4
Overall: 4.5
Additional comments:

  • 22+ years
  • Family (Persian) owned/operated
  • Famous for firewood oven gourmet thin crust pizzas
  • Home made dough, sauces, dressings
  • Fresh ingredients
  • Pastas available
  • Pizzas look like website photos
  • Local favourite/loyal customers
  • Quick/Casual/Friendly
  • Seats 10
  • Very busy
  • Eat in/Take-out
  • Very popular for take-out/delivery
  • Free delivery
  • 10% off for pick-up
  • Accepts Visa/MC/Debit
  • Sun-Thurs. 4-10pm
  • Fri-Sat. 4-11pm

**Recommendations: Perfecto, Classic Veggie, Caesar Salad ( I would also request a longer baking time because baking process feels rushed)

The Firewood Cafe is a small cafe that has been around for over 22 years. It’s family owned and operated, but they do have some helpers or they would be in some serious trouble. The little cafe seats 10 and they have 8 people on staff just to keep up with orders. Most the business comes from take-out and delivery and they certainly have a loyal clientele of locals that support this gourmet pizza joint.

I have driven by the Firewood Cafe numerous times, but it’s very easy to miss. It’s located on a main road but it took me 3 years to even notice it’s existence. I had tried a slice of their vegetarian pizza on Saturday and I was so impressed that I made a conscious effort to go back on Sunday to try their other pizzas.

We sat at the counter to observe the open kitchen and operating process, which never took a break. The pizza dough is home made with half whole wheat flour. They use a machine to roll it out, but it’s then hand tossed before handfuls of fresh ingredients go on top.

The Firewood Cafe is famous for their real Italian wood-burning brick oven. Italian fine dining restaurant Q4 also offers this style of pizza, but the pizza was indeed better here although different. The Firewood Cafe pizzas are gourmet pizzas more so than authentic Italian pizzas.

I ordered a large pizza with half Thai chicken and half Perfecto. The pizza options are creative, the sauces are home made, and the toppings are gourmet and eclectic with pine nuts on the grilled chicken pizza and almonds on the Hawaiian. On top of very good pizza, the service was friendly, fast, and excellent! They were so nice and accommodating taking into consideration how busy they were. As much as I enjoyed The Firewood Cafe my favourite gourmet pizzas are still from Steveston Pizza Co. so far.

On the table:

Thai Chicken – 3.5/6

  • Green onions, our Thai peanut sauce, BBQ chicken, zucchini & sesame seeds. Sm: $12.75  Med: $17.25  Lrg: $21.75
  • The pizza was good, but I expected more flavour with the ingredients used.
  • The Thai peanut sauce is home made and it was sweet but not that nutty and it was overpowered by the tangy tomato sauce. I would have liked way more Thai peanut sauce.
  • I actually really liked the Thai Chicken pizza they used to have at Boston Pizza better than this. That one had actual peanuts, carrots and bean sprouts as toppings.
  • I liked how the veggies weren’t over baked and I could still taste them, but the sesame seeds came unnoticed with all the other ingredients.
  • It’s not really a cheesy pizza and the predominant flavours are the tangy tomato sauce and the BBQ chicken which is very well seasoned and marinated. I would have preferred bigger pieces of chicken rather than the thin slices of chicken though.

  • It’s extra crispy from the whole wheat flour they use in addition to the white flour. It’s nice and thin, but I wanted to really taste that firewood-burning quality.
  • The leoparding on the crust was decent, but it was a bit inconsistent. The outer edge of the pizza was super crunchy and crispy and then the middle was soft and chewy.
  • It could have used a longer baking time, but I feel as though they rush the process when they get super busy. Next time I will request a longer baking time.

**Perfecto – 4.5/6

  • Ham, shrimp, pesto sauce, hot banana peppers, parsley & smoked gouda. Sm: $12.75  Med: $17.25  Lrg: $21.75
  • Compared to the Thai Chicken pizza this had way more flavour and was tastier.
  • It was nutty, savoury, tangy and sweet with a little bit of heat at the end.

  • The pesto was homemade and they dollop generous mounds of it on the pizza. It was nutty and very fresh with strong  parsley and basil flavour.
  • I couldn’t taste the smoked Gouda much and I wasn’t impressed with the amount of shrimp used though. They were baby shrimp and I could barely taste them. The gourmet shrimp pizza (“Water” pizza) at Steveston Pizza Co. is much more generous.
  • Every single bite had a bite of high quality ham and the saltiness with the nutty pesto was great! I loved getting a bite of the banana peppers too which were super tangy, somewhat sweet and ended with a little bit of heat.

**Classic Veggie – 6/6

  • Mushrooms, onions, green peppers, kalamata olives, artichokes & roma tomatoes. Sm: $12.75  Med: $17.25  Lrg: $21.75
  • Unfortunately I missed the photo because I tried this the day before, but it was awesome! It actually looks like the classic veggie pizza image they used on the website – see here.
  • It’s one of the, or maybe even THE best vegetarian pizza I’ve had. Mind you, I haven’t had that many in my lifetime, but for a vegetarian pizza it impressed me a lot.
  • It was a very tangy pizza with lots of fresh vegetable toppings. They are so generous with the kalamata olives which come in big half pieces and it added the perfect bite of saltiness. The Roma tomatoes are big slices of juicy roasted tomatoes and the artichokes are big hearts of it as well. Everything was just so fresh, tangy, and juicy and I just loved it.
**Caesar Salad Classic4/6
  • Creamy garlic dressing, croutons and Italian Padano Parmesan $5.75
  • I know it’s just a Caesar Salad, but it’s great here! The portion is massive and enough as a side for 4 people.
  • It’s very fresh and tastes way better than it looks!

  • It’s very lightly dressed with their own home made Caesar dressing which I was very impressed with. It’s a dark colour and it’s very cheesy and has a ton of flavour, but nothing overwhelming in terms of garlic and spice. It could have used some freshly cracked pepper though.
  • The croutons are amazing! It’s cubes of their toasted garlic bread and they’re super crunchy and fresh.

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13 Comments

  • KimHo says:

    Yeah, it has been there for a while; however, it is not a place I see myself go anytime soon, given I won’t be eating the whole thing by myself. Need some people to tag along, hehehe. What I am surprised, though, is that you were actually there. Other than Kirin across the street, I don’t envision you in the area! 😀

  • Mijune says:

    Lol! Wrong area Kim… I’m not usually in East Van., but Cambie/West Broadway isn’t too out of my area. I tried Las Tortas, Kreation Artisan Cake, Tropika, that Indonesian place up the street, that Corner 23 place, Landmark hot pot and Cafe Gloucester… all on Cambie! 🙂

  • A.J. says:

    Do you know if this restaurant has been operating at this exact location for that length of time (22+ years)? I remember going to a brick oven place in the same vicinity on cambie street when I was a child.

    If it is indeed the same place then I can vouche for their quality pizza from the past as well!

  • Mijune says:

    A.J. – yup! That’s what the guy working there told me… I said “how long have you guys been around for?” and he said “22 years now”… and I said “ohhhh I only noticed you 5 years ago” :S… although now that you mention, I don’t know if it was this exact location. Perhaps same owners and then they remodeled? I know they had renovations.

  • grayelf says:

    In a town seriously lacking in decent pizza, this place has the only pies I enjoy. Our favourite order is a large with half Hawaiian (their secret ingredient: sliced almonds) and the Asiago. They can be inconsistent though and you are deffo paying a premium.

  • KimHo says:

    Grayelf, to quote myself in a post by gastronomydomine (of the Foodosophy team):

    “Because we are so used to the ~$1.5/slice pizza that we no longer know better? Just saying…”

    Having said that, have you tried Ah-Beetz? Yes, it is in Abbotsford but I thought it was worth it.

  • Mijune says:

    Grayelf – Yup… pizza is not really a “Vancouver food”… Boston/New York/Chicago style pizzas are just not happenings here. Try Steveston Pizza Co. as well.

  • Elaine says:

    Talking about Boston Pizza, although I don’t love pizza or Boston Pizza, they do have a perogie pizza or something that’s quite lovely!

  • Mijune says:

    Elaine – I love Perogie pizzas lol!! Put potatoes + cheese + sour cream + caramelized onions on a pizza… or on anything for that matter and I’m there!! lol… you know what? I totally appreciate you reading my posts… they’re very long… and the fact that you saw that Boston Pizza detail which was one line means that you actually read it. I never think anyone really does read my “essays”… but that’s ok… I still love writing it, but of course it’s really awesome to know that it is read 😀 … wow even my replies are long :p

  • Bow says:

    Mijune,
    How does it compare to Lombardo’s or the Nook ? Love Lombardo’s…or a slice of pizza at Whole Foods? It’s really hard to find superior pizza. In North Van, where I am, there is no such thing as great pizza, let alone decent pizza. 2001 Flavors is the best cheap place and actually is good enough to recommend(only because of the price).

  • Mijune says:

    Hi Bow! I’ve been meaning to try Nook and Lombardo’s is now closed. I haven’t tried Whole Foods either. Ahh so you’re in North Van! I’m sorry I don’t frequent restaurants there as often!

  • fmed says:

    Lombardo’s original location on Commercial Drive is still open. The downtown location of Lombardo’s closed and it became Pacific Pizza after Mrs Lombardo sold her shares to the other investors. Lombardo’s used to be a lot better…closer to the Neapolitan ideal. But it has not been the same since the epic and very public divorce between her and her husband (now the owner and pizzaiolo of Marcello’s). Both Marcello’s and Lombardo’s have true wood-burning ovens, but neither of the maximize their potential.

    Ah-Beetz (Abbostsford) is great for NY style and Pizzeria Prima Strada (Victoria) is great for Neapolitan style. Those are the only two pizzerias north of Serious Pie in Seattle that are in the “worthy” category.

  • Mijune says:

    fmed – Hi again! Thanks for the insider info! I had no idea. I guess Vancouver isn’t the proper hub for pizzas. Megabite seems to be good enough for the general public… well that and at 3am in the morning people barely have any clue what they’re putting in their mouth… ugh… aaannndd I’ll let readers interpret that one on their own…

    anyways thanks for the recommendations! Ah-Beetz comes up again!! I must make my way! I haven’t tried too many pies in the city myself but I have an idea that your last paragraph isn’t far from the truth.

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