Types And Application Of Pizza Ovens

There’s no doubt that pizza is one of the most popular and widely available dishes across the globe. So why don’t take a step further and get your own pizza oven? Especially now that home cooking is having its renaissance. Why choose pizza ovens, and what types there are? Let’s explore the matter.

Why are pizza ovens so great?

That’s simple – they are very versatile cooking tools for commercial and home day-to-day use. Despite having ‘pizza’ in their names, these ovens can be used to prepare all sorts of baked, cooked, grilled or roasted dishes. The most popular options include: steaks, grilled seafood, roasted fish, barbecued meat, pies, bread and grilled cheese. And that’s just the tip of all the possibilities – if you can name a dish, you’ll probably be able to make it in a pizza oven.

Most pizza ovens are wood-fired, but there are models that run on charcoal, gas or even electricity (the last ones are mostly made for commercial uses). A wood-fired oven is often considered as the best option for pizzas – this type of fuel gives them a specific taste that makes pizza a dish beloved by many.

Pizza oven types

There’s quite a lot of classifications, based on specific features of a given pizza oven. The most general, based on placement divides them into three groups:

  • Freestanding – those can be massive, depending on the available space and personal preferences. A freestanding, solid brick pizza oven can be an impressive sight to behold. It’s a common pick for an outdoor pizza oven.
  • Build-in – a pizza oven can be easily integrated into already existing structures, e.g., brick outdoor grills or even fireplaces. The size may vary, depending on the base structure, but in general there’s quite a lot of freedom when it comes to it.
  • Portable – a portable pizza oven can be moved around and set up almost anywhere. This has one major setback though – due to their size, portable ovens allow you to prepare max 1-2 pizzas at a time.

Having that behind us, let’s look a bit more in-depth into different variations of ovens.

Brick pizza ovens

It’s a term used for both traditional masonry ovens built out of bricks and modular/assembled ovens made of refractory materials. Almost any of them are single-chambered, which means that they use the same chamber for firing and cooking. There are two general groups of brick ovens, depending on the shape of their dome – half-spherical/igloo or barrel vaulted.

Masonry oven

A wood-fired oven built out of traditional refractory bricks considered by many pizza lovers as the best for cooking pizza. It retains heat very well and easily can go above 500 °C. The undeniable advantage of this brick oven is practically limitless potential for personalization, especially if you choose DIY. Making an oven all by yourself (or with a friend’s help) can bring a solid dose of satisfaction and pride.

Modular oven

An oven put together from a special oven kit that includes pre-made modules that are easy to set up. It’s way faster and convenient than building a classic masonry one, but still allows some freedom in designing the exterior. It has lower thermal mass, so it heats up faster but also can’t get as hot as a brick one. A good example of such an oven is Vitcas wood burning pizza oven.

Assembled oven

The most convenient option out of all wood-fired pizza ovens. An assembled oven gets to you already put together and ready to be placed on its designated spot. Unfortunately, this doesn’t leave any room for personalization and is the most expensive out of the three mentioned options.

Half-spherical/igloo oven

It’s the traditional design of a wood-fired pizza oven (but there are models running on charcoal or gas) that, thanks to its round shape, allows for even heat distribution in the cooking chamber. It can come in one of two versions:

  • Tuscany dome – the dome’s height is half of its diameter, which enables you to cook in large pottery or even Dutch ovens. A Tuscany dome is considered a “general-purpose oven” as it can be used to prepare many variations of dishes.
  • Neapolitan dome – a lower and slighter option with a bit flatter ceiling designed specifically of cooking ideal pizza. But that doesn’t mean that’s all you can prepare – it’s great for bread and other dishes. Just keep in mind that this type of oven is designed for high-temperature cooking, and it’s rather hard to maintain lower temperatures in it. The lower height of the dome and its opening is also more limiting.

Barrel vaulted

This type of pizza oven replaces the traditional circular dome with a half-barrel design that makes the oven floor rectangular. The walls are typically thicker than those of a traditional oven, which makes the thermal mass significantly higher. It can be used to cook pizza, bread and anything that requires pottery. The opening has typically 60% of the vault’s dimensions. As before, there are two options here:

  • Enclosed vault – the opening can be shut with a front side door, creating ideal conditions ideal for roasting and grilling meat and vegetables, cooking in pottery and, of course, baking pizza and bread. It’s rather easy to use and maintain lower temperature.
  • Opened vault – the front side is entirely open. This makes it harder to retain heat, so this type of ovens uses more fuel and isn’t the best choice for baking a perfect pizza. But they are still great for grilling, barbecuing and low-temperature cooking.

Commercial ovens

A typical commercial pizza oven available today is metal and run on gas or electricity. Given the size and productiveness, there are three different types of them – convection, deck and conveyor.

Convection oven

Rather small and with limited production (1 or 2 pizzas at a time), suitable for small businesses or restaurants that consider pizza as a bonus menu option. It can cook pizza in about 5 to 6 minutes – the exact time varies depending on the temperature and the number of pizzas cooked simultaneously.

Deck oven

Made for medium production (4-6 pizzas per deck at a time) in places that serve pizza every day. The cooking time is a bit longer (typically 6-8 minutes), but it can make it up by having more decks – there are models with up to six of them. Their downside is that the pizzas need to be monitored and moved around.

Conveyor oven

It allows for continuous production of pizzas and is easy to handle – all you have to do is place the pizza on the conveyor belt and the oven will put it through set temperature at set speed. Some models have multiple belts, which allows you to get many pizzas ready in 4-5 minutes. It’s a great option for busy pizzerias with spacious kitchens.

Pizza oven – great for home and business

Due to its versatility, a wood-fired pizza oven is a great addition to any garden and any enthusiast of home cooking will appreciate this cooking tool. It’s also a great addition to already existing grills or smokehouses. If you think about opening a pizzeria or adding pizza to your restaurant’s menu, you can easily find a commercial pizza oven suited just for your needs.

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