The outdoor pizza oven has been around for decades, but in the last few years it seems like we all have to have one.
We had the opportunity to interview Kirk from Fontana Forni about their woodfired pizza ovens at the Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Expo. What follows is the text from that interview. You can also catch the interview on our YouTube channel.
David: Alright I’m with Kirk from Fontana pizza ovens, and Kirk, tell us a little bit about this model that we have here and what makes you unique in the space.
Kirk: Okay, Fontana has been making metal wood-fired ovens for over 50 years. They were the first company who started making metal wood-fired ovens. And there are many different types of ovens in this category right now. But there are some features about this oven that distinguishes us from the others.
One is the fact when you look inside of the dome there are actually bends in the curve; those bends give structure and they also help reflect the heat better. We have a court and steel shield which is the only one in the industry that ensures that your dome is going to last for years and years.
Our insulation has been rated by a third party which is the certification UL CSA to be safe to come within one inch to combustibles. That is a leading industry amount.
We have a damper on our chimney which doesn’t seem like a big deal, but it gives you a tremendous advantage for heat control. You can close the door, especially at lower temperatures. You can close the damper so the heat stays inside of the oven. And the way the smoke exits the chimney it has to make a slight S-pattern so it keeps heat inside of theoven instead of wasting it coming out of the chimney.
Another advantage that we have is we import and are the distributors for the Biscotto which is the stone that comes from Naples Italy. It is the only stone you can cook at the required temperatures, which are 850 to 900 degrees on the stone, that will not cause burning on the bottom of your pizza. But it’s a very unusual stone it’s handmade and it comes in limited quantities, just because it’s a family business and they can only produce so much.
David: So for those who are new to pizza ovens in general, walk us through how would they start the fire, and how are they going to control the
temperatures inside the oven.
Kirk: Well a lot of people are fearful of a wood-fired oven because they’ve never used it before. It’s actually very easy to start. You just begin with small kindling. As long as it’s dry you can use a small starter cube, you can use a torch just to start the kindling. Once it starts, if you open your damper and partially close the door it creates a draft, and it actually starts very easily.
Once the kindling starts, you start adding larger pieces of wood. This oven will heat up, I can have it heated up in about 15 minutes. In reality for that stone to be good and hot all the way through it takes about 30 minutes.
David: So once you actually build the fire you’re gonna build it in the center of the oven?
Kirk: That is what the Italians would say and most people recommend that in a traditional masonry type structure. We have found, and we use them all the time, my wife is from Italy, and I’ve got a variety of ovens at my house, including two masonry ovens. We have found that building the fire on the side we get the same heat up times and there’s less cleanup.
When you start in the middle you’ve got a bunch of ashes that you have to sweep over, and we keep the floor cleaner, and we find we get the same heat up time just doing it on the side of the oven.
David: And that’s what this piece of metal is gonna be for, right? Is that for more building the fire or is it for moving the fire over?
Kirk: No this actually is you build the fire and it keeps the wood from rolling into your workspace. The other misconception is that this oven is just for pizza. You know living in Italy, having lived in Italy, and my wife being from Italy we know that you can pretty much make anything inside of this oven.
If you go to our Instagram page Fontana Forni USA you will see my wife cooks pretty much everything inside of the oven from deserts to bread to meats to pretty much anything you could imagine.
So we are baking bread inside of the oven. We’re introducing steam into
the oven, as well as cooking Pizza.
David: Wow! So if they want to learn more about you, you said where your Instagram is. Is there a website they can find out more?
David: Great. Well hey, it’s a pleasure. Thanks for introducing us to this oven. If you want to learn more check them out online.
Kirk: We appreciate it.
Question of the day:
Are you already cooking with an outdoor oven or are you still in the wishing stage like we are?
If you had one, what’s the first thing you’d cook in it?
Let us know in the comments section below as well as your thoughts on the Margherita Rosso from Fontana.