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‘I’m a Professional Pizza Chef, and This Is the *One* Brand Of Pizza Oven I Cannot Live Without’

As a child, excitement meant things like listening to the soundtrack of Sesame Street on repeat, getting to stay up way past your bedtime to go to the premiere of Twilight, and that glorious extra scoop of free vanilla ice cream from Baskin-Robbins on your birthday.

But as we grow older, excitement comes in other forms—not that I don’t kvell over that extra birthday scoop nowadays, too. When #adulting, these fond childhood memories have to compete with the joy that can only be sparked by scoring a low-interest rate when buying a home or discovering that the lycopene found in plants, such as tomatoes, is loaded with antioxidants (um, major spaghetti night score).

However, that’s not to say that all childhood innocence will be lost forever. There’s one thing that we can all agree on that instantly feeds (literally) your inner child with blissful happiness no matter how old you are. Any guesses? Well, IMO, it’s most definitely pizza night. Something about the trifecta of crispy crust, tangy sauce, and gooey cheese always seems to hit the spot juuuust right, no matter the occasion.

Though I won’t deny that I have indulged in many a late-night freezer ‘za and dollar slices from NYC’s sacred 24-hour pizza shops, there’s something so rewarding about making a fresh pie from scratch at home. Of course, your standard oven can get the job done when in a pinch, but according to Daniele Uditi, LA-based master pizzaiolo, executive chef at Neapolitan pizzeria Pizzana, and head judge for new Hulu show Best in Dough (coming this month), the type of oven you use can make or break the quality of this iconic dish.

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That being said, with the help of Uditi, we’ve unlocked the two types of home pizza ovens this pizza-making pro can’t live without, why he thinks they’re worth every penny, and how you can embrace your restaurant-worthy pizza potential forever. (I mean, if getting older means having more homemade pizza, I’m down.)

The best home pizza oven, according to an expert

According to Uditi, there are a few key ways to make the perfect pizza at home, and a lot of it has to do with the type of oven you use. “The key is to get an oven that reaches above 600 degrees Fahrenheit; with that, you already have an advantage,” he says. “Temperature is everything when you make pizza at home. You can still make a good pizza with a regular oven, but it takes a lot of skill and a lot of technique to use lower temperatures and still make a great pizza.”

When asked about his own go-to home pizza oven, Uditi was quick to point out that there’s one brand in particular that stands out in the market to him. “My favorite at-home ovens are from Gozney. They make two kinds: the Roccbox, which is a small portable oven that you can take everywhere, and a backyard oven known as the Gozney Dome, which is just amazing. You can make restaurant-quality pizza right in your backyard using wood or gas, and the design is beautiful. It’s just a thing of beauty,” he says.

1. Best Portable Pizza Oven: Gozney Roccbox

As Uditi mentioned, his all-time favorite portable pizza oven is the Roccbox by Gozney. We spoke with Tom Gozney, the CEO and founder of Gozney, to learn more about the product’s design, features, and innovation.

“Our mission has always been to make live-fire cooking accessible to all. Paying homage to traditional Neapolitan ovens whilst paving the way to the future of live fire cooking, we harnessed knowledge from our commercial origins to create innovative pizza ovens with unparalleled performance that harmonized in their design a series of opposites. Think ancient and modern; utility and beauty,” Gozney says.

This restaurant-grade portable pizza oven comes in two colors (grey or olive) and can be purchased with a dual fuel feature or gas only. With the dual fuel, you can fire up the oven using the convenience of gas, plus the flavors of wood for the ultimate pizza experience, and it retails at $599. Meanwhile, the gas-only version is sold for $499. Overall, this model has almost 2,000 reviews with 4.8 stars.

The ultra-powerful oven can reach up to 950 degrees Fahrenheit, which is well over Uditi’s recommended temperature for achieving the perfect pizza crust. Plus, it comes with a professional-grade pizza peel to make rotating and inserting the pizza into the oven as easy and safe as possible. Out of all of the pizza ovens out there, this one checks off the boxes regarding convenience, a moderate price point, and portability. (BTW, you can also use this oven to make way more than just pizza. Think thick-cut cauliflower steaks, fire-roasted roasted veggies, and steamy calzones.)

Pros:

  • Comes in multiple colors
  • Easily portable
  • Easy assembly
  • Restaurant-grade oven
  • Reaches 950°F
  • Comes with a professional-grade pizza peel
  • Five-year warranty, upon registration

Cons:

  • Relatively expensive
  • No digital thermometer

2. Best Restaurant-Grade Pizza Oven: Gozney Dome

As for achieving pizza that tastes just as good as restaurant-quality and even better than delivery, Uditi recommends the Gozney Dome, hands down. The ultra-sleek design not only would make a beautiful addition to your outdoor setup, but it’s also super convenient and boasts numerous features that make it one of the most impressive at-home pizza ovens on the market.

“Last year, we took it one step further with the launch of our next-gen pizza oven, The Dome; an innovative, beautiful, and versatile outdoor oven that cooks so much more than just amazing pizza. Designed for outdoor cooking enthusiasts, home cooks, pro-chefs, and street pizzaiolos alike, the Dome serves as a centerpiece for any outdoor space, is equipped with an array of innovative features, and provides home cooks and chefs alike with an authentic, versatile, and effortless cooking experience,” Gozney says.

The Dome comes in two colors (bone and olive) and three models, dual fuel propane, dual fuel natural gas, and wood only, which retail at $1,799 for the first two and $1,499 for the wood-only model. Of the three, Uditi recommends purchasing the propane-fueled version. “I always recommend using propane tank and gas. The oven reaches the temperature in 25 to 30 minutes, and you can start making pizza right away. With wood, you gain flavor, but it takes a lot of time to reach the temperature, and you have to adjust the heat constantly. If you have an oven, like the Gozney Dome, which you can use gas and wood, it’s faster because it can use the two types of fuel,” Uditi explains.

“For us, heat retention is key to ensure our customers can cook restaurant-worthy pizza after pizza without a drop in temperature, so our ovens all feature dense layers of insulation, extra-thick cordierite stone floors (more than 19mm thick), and a unique rolling flame. These features ensure our ovens reach the high temperatures needed for pizza, absorb heat evenly, and then hold it, so you get a perfectly cooked pizza every time,” Gozney says.

The Dome also has a built-in thermometer, silicone safe touch jacket, unbeatable heat retention, and requires minimal set up, which means that these ovens are easy to use straight from the box to the backyard regardless of the cooking skill level. Plus, it’s super versatile and can adapt to just about any cooking technique: think cooking over live fire, roasting, slow roasting, smoking, baking, and steaming, just to name a few. According to Gozney’s website, this product has over 300 reviews and 4.5 stars.

Pros:

  • Comes in multiple colors
  • Restaurant-grade oven
  • Reaches 950°F
  • Digital thermometer
  • Innovative air ventilation and heat retention technology
  • Superior insulation
  • Comes with a professional-grade pizza peel
  • Five-year warranty, upon registration

Cons:

  • Pricey
  • Not easily portable

Tips for making restaurant-quality pizza at home, according to an expert

Make sure the oven is piping hot. As Uditi underscored, the temperature is everything when it comes to making pizza. He emphasizes that you’ll want a pizza oven that reaches a minimum of 600 degrees Fahrenheit if you want that restaurant-quality crispy crust.

Keep a watchful eye on the crust. “Always watch the crust. When one side of the crust starts to get colored, slowly put the pizza peel underneath, and rotate the pizza 180 degrees, so that the pizza can cook evenly. Where the crust is still white, you want to direct that closer to the flame so that it can get charred and crispy,” Uditi says.

Push the bubbles outward when shaping the dough. “Don’t stretch the dough with a lot of strength. I usually flatten out the part I want to be flat and leave about an inch and a half for the crust. I always transport the air from the center to the crust. Never stretch it with a lot of strength,” Uditi says.

Always use room temperature dough. “If you’re doing a cold fermentation in the refrigerator overnight, take the dough out at least one hour ahead of time to let it reach room temperature before you cook it.”

Keep your topping-to-dough ratio modest. “My suggestion is to use about four tablespoons of sauce for a 12-inch pie; I try not to go over that for a cheese pizza. If I’m doing a pizza with other ingredients, I reduce the amount to two or three tablespoons because I know that the other toppings have a lot of moisture. I want everything to be balanced.” This, Uditi says, is key for maintaining the crust’s crispiness.

Buy a proper proofing box for your dough. One of the most common mistakes Uditi sees people commit when making pizza dough at home is not using an adequate proofing box. He explains that wrapping the dough in plastic isn’t sufficient if you want to maintain the dough’s moisture. “I always suggest that people purchase a proofing box. It’s very cheap, and you can find it on Amazon. You want to make sure that everything is hermetically closed so no air can circulate during the fermentation process,” he says.

Reshape store-bought dough. If using store-bought dough, Uditi recommends removing it from the bag, reshaping it, and letting it proof and come to room temperature. “If you start stretching it immediately, you won’t end up with a high-quality end result,” he says.

Bake frozen pizza in a regular oven. Of course, a frozen pizza does the trick now and then when pressed for time. Uditi says that when it comes to frozen pies, you can simply make them using your regular oven, although he suggests cooking them directly on the rack. (And make sure to check out Pizzana’s frozen pizzas, which are available for shipping nationwide via Goldbelly).

Photo: Pizzana/ Dane Deaner

Daniele Uditi’s pizza dough recipe

Yields 4-5 servings (250 grams each)

Ingredients

8 cups (or 1000 grams) King Arthur Bread Flour or Caputo

2 3/4 cups (or 650 grams) water room temp

1 3/4 tsp (or 5 grams) active dry yeast

2 Tbsp (or 35 grams) sea salt

1. In a bowl, add the flour and water and combine until the mixture comes together. Let rest for 30 minutes.

2. Dissolve the yeast in a little warm water and add it to the flour and water mixture. Knead until all the yeast is absorbed.

3. Once the yeast is fully absorbed, add the salt and continue mixing. The process of kneading should last 10 to 15 minutes to start developing the gluten.

4. Let the dough rest for at least an hour before dividing and rounding.

5. After one hour, start dividing the dough into ball shapes of 250 grams. Place each ball of dough on a tray or in a plastic container and let proof at room temperature for five to six hours. The balls of dough should be double their size.

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