pizza ovens & grills for the masses


Hi Tony--Do you have a recommendation for home ovens that would be best for pizza? Is there a gas grill out there that you would recommend for pizza making for the masses? I see that Weber put out a gas grill here called Spirit made for Home Depot that has a special insert cutout for a pizza stone (http://www.homedepot.com/p/Weber-Spirit-E-210-2-Burner-Propane-Gas-Grill-Featuring-the-Gourmet-BBQ-System-46113101/204692986). I think it's useless because there's no heating element at the top, but I don't know. If nothing else, it shows that there is a demand/desire. Have you designed or consulted with any oven &/or grill companies--to design a pizza oven that's safe for home use & reasonably priced? (That may or may or may not be a request. . . )

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Maria .
posted almost 3 years ago

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If your looking for high heat I have a Dacor grill and have had it for years. I've used a stone on this grill that fits onto a metal frame. It was given to me years ago in 2006 so the stone does not sit into the grill becuse some have known to crack. Or I just use the grill directly. Like you mentioned you always need top heat. I have heard good things about the Blackstone ovens. Also the Big Green Egg has been fun to use. It's a little tricky wth the first pizza and then trying to continue with multiple pizzas and even heat. This takes time to perfect and needs adequate time in between pizzas for the heat to build back up especially when using the stone. Top heat is very important with this so leaving the lid on is the key. Using a Neapolitan dough on all of these works great..

Tony Gemignani admin
posted almost 3 years ago


Tks, Tony. I looked around because I've heard of Big Green, but it's still sort of cultish, I guess--I mean the big (box) stores don't sell them here. They're kind of pricey from what I see @ $600 for a mini-max (13 inch round) --about 2x the Blackstone. But it is a multi-tasker. Funny that the BGE looks to do a great job on the tops of pies w/o overhead heat, so I imagine the ceramic top is a great heat conductor. (I'm enjoying the "red neck" pizza oven that folks are building themselves . . . wonder if they exist in Italy or if it's an American thing.)

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Maria .
posted almost 3 years ago


Hey Maria,
Take a look at this http://www.wayfair.com/Blackstone-Patio-Oven-1575-BSTN1009.html
Blackstone Pizza oven.....I am getting ready to invest in one soon.

Mark S.
posted almost 3 years ago


Thanks, Mark. Let us know how it goes. The Blackstone is getting great reviews. The only negatives I see are shipment damage and a short life--2 years someone said. Don't know if that's true. It might be worthwhile to order from Home Depot in case there's damage, so you can just return/reorder. From what I read if you try to work it out thru Blackstone, they'll torture you. Is that about what you're seeing?

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Maria .
posted almost 3 years ago


Maria.....I have read the reviews about the damaged units...but most of what I read, Blackstone support took care of it.....overall most are happy with the support.....the short life?...I have not read anything about that yet....I will keep researching.

Mark S.
posted almost 3 years ago


Big fan of Tony! Hey just chiming in here on the grill topic. We have tested the kettlepizza and out of the box, you cant get Neapolitan results, but if you trick out the grill a bit you can. The problem with grills is top heat. It is hard to even dome it long enough to do any good, and the bottom heat is usually too high. What I did was to get a baking steel and set it in the webber, then used a second stone and placed it on top of the first stone leaving a small space between the two stones. This acted as a vent and cooled off the top stone to around 600 degrees while the dome just under the baking stool was over 900+ degrees. This enabled better top heat without burining the bottom. Pies we bake are in the 45 second to 2 minute range and we can cook higher at around 1100 dome for super fast pies (but not often)
So, the grill application can work, but it just needs to be modified a bit to get fantastic results. We will get another WFO, maybe a pizza party in the future. Actually I saw a video of Tony using the bee hive? I think on his home deck, I liked that a lot to. Small, simple, and he made a great looking pie on it. Not sure available in USA. The pic included here is a Neapolitan we made on our wfo grill using our Chesapeake bay sourdough culture, 00 flour, and about a 4 day ferment. Huge rim, tasted great.
Cheers!
Jim Baugh
Jim Baugh Outdoors TV

Medium piii

Jim Baugh
posted almost 3 years ago


Hey Jim, Nice pie! I read that Kettle Pizza was updated recently and is able to achieve amazing results out of the box. I think Kenji Lopez actually helped improve the design by adding a steel on the top. So the inventor of the steel and the inventor of the kettle joined forces and to act on kenji's recommendations. For his work, I believe he asked that a portion of the earnings be donated to his fav charity. When did you purchase your Kettle Pizza? Didn't it have a steel on top?

I've worked this summer on a gas grill pizza, and was able to achieve a satisfactory result by using the red neck grill technique I found on you-tube w/some modifications. Unfortunately, by the time I get home now, it's too dark to grill. Likely that I'll forget it all by next summer!! But it's handy for folks who don't have time or inclination after work to set up a weber.

I see a lot of gadgets out there for a grill, but you can see that they don't work or that they're too expensive for average folk. For Kettle Pizza, for example, the cost is too high to invest in a uni-tasker w/limited short time use. There's apparently not enough interest in the devise for companies to copy it and sell it at a more reasonable price--probably about $50. is what it's worth at best. These are the reasons headway cannot be made in this area of pizza grills: good-old greed and lack of imagination. Those who could design a decent device are busy doing other, more profitable things. That makes me appreciate red neck ingenuity all the more!!

It's hard for me to look in the mirror & know that paid about $90 for a slab of steel. Though it's a recent purchase, I think it was a waste--$20 at best.

Medium white cue

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Maria .
posted almost 3 years ago


I don’t know if KP is offering the baking steel out of the box. They may be packaging it that way but in the past it was a separate option. What I have found (been doing the kettle thing for over a year now) is that you can do awesome neo pies in the grill, but you have to have the baking steel AND a second stone or else the bottom will get to hot.
There are advantage to using a webber, size and cost. It is still cheaper than actual ovens like the pizza party and is great if you already have a webber grill. Also the grill is SO easy to clean and actually holds heat pretty well. If your doing more than four or five pies you need to re fuel but that is no biggie.
We did not get to this point quickly, it took a lot of tweaking to get the pies just right, but now we know what to do it’s a no brainer. Also we rotate the pro grade so the fires is more on the side of the grill. Much easier to cook this way and monitor the rim.
Not at all is the grill a replacement for a full oven. It is more of a portable and inexpensive solution that does work very well once you know how to set it up including two stones and baking steel.
We love to cook with it and get great pies. Here is a rim shot.

Medium air2

Jim Baugh
posted almost 3 years ago


Here is a shot of it baking with the two stones and baking steel, but you cant see the steel in this show but you can see how we turn the pro grade to the side. Make a big difference. I sure wish I had Tony's oven! But this gets us by for now.

Medium inoven

Jim Baugh
posted almost 3 years ago


Yeah, well Tony's got lots of great ovens, but ya gotta think that if his back were against the wall, he could make a great pizza on a paper bag & an ice cream stick . . . For the rest---pimped out pizza kettle: http://www.kettlepizza.com/Serious-Eats-KettlePizza-Special-Edition-Kit-p/KPSE-22.htm?gclid=CP7l25ffss8CFQckhgod3jIDYw

They sell the steel aftermarket as well: https://www.walmart.com/ip/KettlePizza-Baking-Steel/47345154?wmlspartner=wlpa&selectedSellerId=0&adid=22222222227038860729&wl0=&wl1=g&wl2=c&wl3=92171239937&wl4=pla-183828686177&wl5=9004072&wl6=&wl7=&wl8=&wl9=pla&wl10=8175035&wl11=online&wl12=47345154&wl13=&veh=sem

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Maria .
posted almost 3 years ago


Thanks I looked at it. It appears they are selling this kit now with the baking steel, last year they were not. That's a good package. All you would need to do would be to buy one additional stone, or use one if you already have one at home.
That's the kit we use and it does work and actually a little surprised at the high temps we get but we do and consistently.
I see a lot posted about blackstone but just not into gas pies. Rather just do a oven version. But the WFO flavor and appeal has really gotten under our skin. Just love it. Thanks for the links!

Jim Baugh
posted almost 3 years ago


Sure. So what is the extra stone for--why 3 instead of 2 as in the kit?

I don't understand the fascination around WFOs; we don't have any around. When the Italians brought pizza to NY, they adapted it to coal ovens. Now most places use electric. I guess it's part of the evolution of pizza.

I believe Nancy Silverton of Mozza uses temps of 500 degree due to the delicacy of her dough formulation, though she bakes in a WFO. So I don't think you need 900 degree temps to get good pie.

Gas fire may be less toxic than wood or coal. On a grill, it's definitely more convenient. Wood chips can be added for flavor if desired.

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Maria .
posted almost 3 years ago


You need the high temps inorder to cook in much faster times, like 30 seconds to two minutes etc. Its a different pie than one cooked in five to eight minutes. Higher temps and shorter bake times will help get you lots of air and a nice moist soft interior rim yet still crunchy on the outside. (assuming you have the right dough) The extra stone is to be used to set on top of the first pizza stone. This is the stone to cook on. The baking steel rest near the dome and is not used to cook on, it reflects heat downwards giving the top a LOT of heat which is what you want. If you don't use a second stone, then you will end up mostly doming the pie and or using a screen so the bottom wont burn. you can see the two stones in the pic in earlier post. This simply is a cooler temp than the stone below allowing a better heat balance and makes it a LOT easier to control. Here is a pic of the two stones

Medium avitarr

Jim Baugh
posted almost 3 years ago


That bottom stone (you can see the corner of it in the metal prograte frame) is probably around 700+ degrees. The stone that the pizza is sitting n is around 500+. But the dome is over 900+ degrees. This heat balance in this grill application works very well. The top gets cooked while the bottom does not burn and all in about 90 seconds give or take.
Here s another pie from this same bake

Medium sasuage

Jim Baugh
posted almost 3 years ago


I see. What is the rationale for the super high temps?

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Maria .
posted almost 3 years ago


Here's something else I think about regarding wfo: Is it sustainable? Is it ethical? In the evolution of pizza, wood was no doubt originally the most available and low cost energy source. Nowadays, we're concerned about carbon footprints, sustainable energy sources, etc. I've framed the question as follows: Use Hume's test to determine if your (or others') actions are ethical: If everyone did it, would it be okay? Then you can tell if a behavior is ethical. In the case of a wood fire oven, I have to say no. It's not sustainable. If everyone consumed such a large amount of firewood everyday, we'd use up the source very quickly and negatively impact a host of living and non living entities.

Restaurant WFO's, from what I read, take at least seven days to come up to temp. and they burn constantly. (but then so does a lot of CA apparently . . .) I'm not sure it's the best way---it's certainly not the most efficient way to cook a pizza.

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Maria .
posted almost 3 years ago


The girl scouts burn more firewood in their campfires than the total amount of WFO in USA. WFO restaurants in general is rather rare, there are some, but not many. Most are gas or electric, some coal, but few of those. Rather than worry about the amount of wood in a WFO, if you are serious about your statement, I would be going after builders of houses, etc, etc, lots of wood there. Keep in mind that WFO neo pies, well, most home cooks would never bother with it for many reasons. No, I don't think you have to worry about the redwoods vanishing because of pizza. LOL. But I do appreciate your point very much.
NOTE: If you think WFO is a problem regarding sustainability?? Those electric ovens burn guess what, ELECTRICTY! You know where that comes from? Seriously, I don't think you have to loose any sleep about a shortage of trees based on Neapolitan Pizza.

Jim Baugh
posted almost 3 years ago


well jim the test used to measure whether or not a behavior is ethical is "if everyone does it ..." so because only a few do it doesn't determine whether or not an act is ethical. wood as an energy souce for cooking is not practical or efficient. you're right about electricity tho it's so more efficient. here it's just so expensive that folks are putting solar panels on there roofs & selling back excess power to the electric co.---the panels are going up like wild fire 😉. it's a front & center issue nowadays .....

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Maria .
posted almost 3 years ago


All for solar. Hope it take off here on the east coast.

Jim Baugh
posted almost 3 years ago


jim: maybe you can invent or commission the first solar barbecue pizza grill. we'd like even heat on top and bottom, please. when I was a kid an we weren't allowed to have matches, so we'd shoot off our caps (do you know what they are?) by using magnifying glasses to harness the heat of the sun--what patience!! It worked!

I think some grills use (supplemental) infrared heat nowadays & it ups the temps on the grill. I don't know too much about it. In any case, I'm sure the evolution of pizza will continue.

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Maria .
posted almost 3 years ago


I read/saw something that said that communities used to have a large communal ovens for bread baking in the town square. So a large fire would be prepared, and folks would bring their breads to be baked on the day. They developed their own slash marks to determine whose was whose. So I think may that's how that notion of baking a pizza in a 900 degree oven began--because they had a huge communal fire. I don't know, but it's fun to think about.

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Maria .
posted almost 3 years ago


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