Wood-burning and high-end gas ovens are found in more and more homes as families learn about the amazing flavors they can get from 600-degree wood, natural gas and propane fired cooking units that were available only to restaurants in North America until a few years ago.
Pizza ovens are leading the drive by consumers to lift their culinary efforts to near or even beyond restaurant grade. Sales of these ovens for homes are jumping by about 50 percent a year in the U.S. The amazing expansion of demand for such units means it’s not unimaginable to see the residential pizza oven becoming as popular as the top-of-the-line barbecue grill within a relatively short time.
These dedicated ovens come in wood-fired, wood and gas-fired, or gas-fired configurations. Choice will depend a great deal on the area of the country, climate considerations and local availability of fuel. In California, 85 percent of residential pizza ovens are wood-fired models installed out of doors but indoor and gas-fired models are building popularity in the northern states and Canada.
Of course, gas is a more convenient fuel with more control and instant starting while wood is more authentic and, often, a cheaper fuel. Most residential pizza ovens can turn out a wonderful pizza in between two and four minutes. Although you won’t be able to prove it to a wood aficionado, there is no difference between the taste of a pizza from the gas-fired or wood-fired oven because there’s no contact between the smoke and the food in either kind.
Pizza ovens, and other specialty ovens, like high-end BBQs, aren’t cheap. A good, outdoor, wood-burning model retails for between $3,000 and $6,000 installed while gas-fired ovens begin at more than $9,000 without installation. Indoor residential ovens can run from the low thousands of dollars to $15,000 and installation can run from $2,000 to about $5,000 with units weighing from between 300 and 2,500 pounds. But the cost and size of these new ovens is not deterring many homeowners from buying into this 6,000 year-old concept of open hearth cooking with fire and stone.
Among the reasons for the surge in interest in residential pizza ovens, apart from bringing an end to delivery or take-out pizza, are advances in technology in both ovens and venting systems. Pizza and other specialty ovens now are factory built and come either preassembled or in kit form with the preassembled type preferred.
Factory-built duct systems are the obvious and recommended choices when pizza ovens and other dedicated cooking systems are installed in residential settings.
Installers have to be aware that venting for a pizza oven or similar appliance is different than venting for a gas fireplace, basically because a pizza oven burns incredibly hot compared with other heating appliances. Typically, the exhaust systems serving the pizza oven should not be combined with systems for other cooking equipment. As well, the installer must submit venting plans for the pizza oven or similar appliance to local authorities because there may be additional requirements in the specific area.
It’s best to hire experts to install pizza ovens but this may include chimney sweep companies who install venting systems like this in homes and commercial buildings.