Wood-Fired Pizza Oven
For those dedicated to authentic pizza, the wood-fired pizza oven is essential. It provides a cooking method similar to what was used for the earliest pies, with an open hearth oven that was the most common type of cooking equipment in times past. These units also provide a crisp crust and a flavor unmatched by other cooking methods.
In units of this type that get at least some of their heat from burning solid fuel, that fire often sits directly on the hearth. That creates a showpiece oven with an open flame directly around the food, which means it cooks quickly. Some models in the category offer those flames inside the oven with burning gas, with the smoky wood flavor provided by wood chips in a smoker box. Even in those with wood burning capabilities, most manufacturers recommend cooking be done with an assist from the gas system.
No matter which type of wood-fired pizza oven it is, they'll all provide the crispy type of pie many customers crave. A wood-burning pizza oven can also be used like any other hearth oven to bake breads and cakes, or cook foods like seafood, pastas, and a long list of other foods.
Appearance and Function
Since the main reason most people buy one of these units is to provide an authentic dining experience, the appearance and capacity of the oven are important considerations. There are a few options to bear in mind when bringing a nod to the Old World into your establishment.
Brick and ceramic hearths reach high temperatures to give crusts just the right amount of crispness and cook the pizzas rather quickly. Front-of-the-house units can be outfitted with extended façades, whether your oven has one compartment or two compartments. The compartments can be as small as 20-inches wide and 34-inches deep. They can be as large as 65.25-inches wide and 76-inches deep, and bake as many as (12) 20-inch pizzas at once. No matter how large or small, these ovens are designed to fit seamlessly into your stone, brick, or stucco décor.
Availability of Fuel Source
One of the primary concerns when choosing a wood-fired oven is the availability of the fuel source. Almost all of these ovens need some sort of gas assist, so it is critical that you can tie into gas lines. If natural gas is not offered in your location, propane (LP) can heat the unit, but your requirements must be specified when you order your equipment. Keep in mind that you'll need space for a tank either inside or outside your establishment.
- Radiant flame provided by gas is probably the easiest, cleanest, and most economical choice. However, you may sacrifice some of the desired flavor that wood and coal can provide.
- Ovens fired by wood alone provide a signature flavor, but there are some considerations to keep in mind when choosing this model. Wood is a renewable resource, but it is labor intensive to feed the fire and clean out the ashes. Burning it also requires a large storage area and ready access to a convenient source may prove difficult.
- Ovens that are coal-fired have longer burn times and storage and labor worries are decreased, because coal doesn't have to be split and it take up less space than wood. Coal is not a renewable resource, however, and it doesn't burn as cleanly as wood.
- Units with gas-assist often provide heat through dual burners, one being a thermostatically controlled infrared burner that runs beneath the ceramic floor of the oven. The other is a manually-controlled burner that creates a wall of radiant flames.