Author Topic: Alfa wood burning oven "4 Pizze"  (Read 4310 times)

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Offline chef-marty

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Alfa wood burning oven "4 Pizze"
« on: June 17, 2013, 06:07:31 PM »
I just returned from Puglia Italy and I have put my new Alfa Forno a Legna "4 Pizze" though a good work out. It heats fast, heats hot (800 degrees) and does a great job. I baked bread in it and I do not consider it a "Pizza Toy" as it has been called by others. See the photos. Nice loafs and nice leopard spots on the crust. Thermal mass is good but I don't seem to miss it. I much prefer the ease, speed and performance of these ovens.
« Last Edit: June 17, 2013, 06:14:05 PM by chef-marty »


Offline mkevenson

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Re: Alfa wood burning oven "4 Pizze"
« Reply #1 on: June 17, 2013, 11:53:44 PM »
Chef Marty, looks like your oven cooks good. What was the bake time on the pie?
Tells us about your oven, pros and cons.
Thanks for posting.


Mark
"Gettin' better all the time" Beatles

Offline chef-marty

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Re: Alfa wood burning oven "4 Pizze"
« Reply #2 on: June 18, 2013, 06:58:59 AM »
I can't think of any negatives except that without the thermal mass, you have only about 15-20 minutes of pizza time before it cools off a bit but since I only cook for 6-8 persons that is plenty of time. My olive wood wasn't quite dry enough though and I believe that with drier wood that burned brighter, I would have gotten even better results. The cook time for the pizza was 110 seconds. The biggest advantage to these ovens is that they heat fast and use only a little wood because of that, therefore I will use it more often. There seems to be no loss of quality on the baking of the pizzas. Alfa did themselves wrong by having non Neapolitan pizza makers demonstrate these new ovens. The pizzas looked terrible and not up to our very high standard. This turned off a lot of purists but I found some videos where the oven was well over 400C and the pizzas came out looking like they should.

In Italy the cost is about $2400 or 1800 euros. There are smaller less expensive ones available from Alfa. It is handsome, well built and is on wheels so I can place it in different parts of the garden and even take it in for the winter. Of course they are much more expensive to buy here. Only you can decide if the convenience, economy and ease is worth the money. You will not suffer bad pizzas however.

Offline mkevenson

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Re: Alfa wood burning oven "4 Pizze"
« Reply #3 on: June 18, 2013, 11:25:43 AM »
Chef, :chef:  thank you for the detailed assessment. Sounds very interesting.


Mark
"Gettin' better all the time" Beatles

Offline tmp24

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Re: Alfa wood burning oven "4 Pizze"
« Reply #4 on: July 11, 2013, 05:07:54 PM »
Chef-Marty,

Thanks so much for your post!  My husband and I are obsessing over this oven but it's been hard to find much feedback on it online.  I've taken to reading Italian sites and there's a bit more info there but still not a ton.  I'm glad to hear that you're happy.  It seems like a good fit for us.  We are not going to live in our current home for more than 2-3 years more, so building an oven is not an option.  The other "portable" ovens out there weigh a ton, can crack easily and are too small.  I first came across this oven on the Viva La Focaccia website (which is a great blog with a lot of videos about bread & pizza) and this looks like a great oven! I want to use it for pizza (Neapolitan, Roman, Sicilian sfincione, NY style & pizza a taglio), plus bread baking, roasting meats and baking pastas and whatnot.  Do you think it's equipped to do all of those things?  As much as I obsess over Neapolitan style pizza, I can't see paying that much for an oven that can only do one thing.  I also want to try porchetta...   ;D If you think it's equipped to do all of those things, plus make decent Neapolitan pizzas, then I'd love your thoughts.

Thanks!

tmp24

Your bread and pizzas looked wonderful. 

Offline chef-marty

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Re: Alfa wood burning oven "4 Pizze"
« Reply #5 on: July 11, 2013, 05:31:18 PM »
Hi tmp24,

Viva La focaccia sold me on this oven even though his pizzas do not look so good. This oven's main thrust is pizza but my breads come out good also. The reason that I say this is that the tall wood burning ovens, the ones with the doors and shelves, are more veristile and easier to use for things other than pizza. They make pizza also but not like the Alfa. It is a trade off and only you can decide. I obviously decided pizza first and other things later.

The convenience is fantastic with the Alfa. I can also smoke my BBQ briskets if I have the patience!

Offline tmp24

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Re: Alfa wood burning oven "4 Pizze"
« Reply #6 on: July 11, 2013, 05:43:05 PM »
Thanks Chef Marty!  I mainly want it for pizza but want the oven to be a bit flexible as well.  You're breads look gorgeous so if I can get my bread to look anything like yours, I'll be happy!  I make pizza every Friday for my family and it seems that this will be easy enough to work with.  I don't think I'd have time to wait for a traditional oven to heat up.  The fact that the oven takes less wood is a major plus.  You've worked with traditional ovens before?  If so, is the pizza that different? 

I appreciate your getting back to me.  Happy baking!  Brisket sounds awesome!

tmp24

Offline chef-marty

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Re: Alfa wood burning oven "4 Pizze"
« Reply #7 on: July 13, 2013, 09:05:30 AM »
On this forum you will find people who love their ovens, and rightly so. They will take unusual strides to get that one last bit of perfection. I salute them. I don't have the time or patience. You can spend 90% of your effort to achieve that last 2% of perfection. I have eaten pizza many times in Naples and I live only a few blocks from Eataly in NYC. I see very little difference in my pizzas and theirs. If you have the skill to make a good authentic curst, know how to properly stretch it, use the correct ingredients and make the fire properly, the actual oven becomes less important. If you do not have those factors correct then the best oven in the world will not compensate for them. I use my oven at a moments notice so the convenience is paramount for me. The results, as you can see in my pictures, are plenty good enough.

Offline Fire-n-smoke

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Re: Alfa wood burning oven "4 Pizze"
« Reply #8 on: July 13, 2013, 09:13:57 AM »
Are there any distributers in the states to see/order these ovens from?  I was looking at the allegra model
tom


Offline chef-marty

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Re: Alfa wood burning oven "4 Pizze"
« Reply #9 on: July 13, 2013, 11:11:06 AM »
I found this link:

http://www.slrintl.com/pre-assembled-2/alfa-forno-allegro-with.html

Let us know how it goes.

Marty

Offline Tscarborough

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Re: Alfa wood burning oven "4 Pizze"
« Reply #10 on: July 13, 2013, 12:11:15 PM »
The ideal would be an oven that heats quickly, retains that heat for a reasonable time and is light enough to be moved.  I am not a fan of ovens with no mass, but if it works for you then it is doing it's job.  $2400 seems a bit unreasonable to me though.

Offline chef-marty

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Re: Alfa wood burning oven "4 Pizze"
« Reply #11 on: July 13, 2013, 01:03:52 PM »
Wait! That's the price in Italy. Here they are around $4k!  It has some mass but the lack of mass is what makes it so easy to heat and use so pick your poison. To bake those loafs, I had to leave some coals inside and turn them.

Marty

Offline Tscarborough

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Re: Alfa wood burning oven "4 Pizze"
« Reply #12 on: July 13, 2013, 01:10:14 PM »
I could build a comparable oven (better really) for less than 500 bucks.  That is my only gripe, but if it works for you, then it is worth what ever you paid.

Offline shuboyje

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Re: Alfa wood burning oven "4 Pizze"
« Reply #13 on: July 13, 2013, 01:34:13 PM »
I am a sheetmetal worker and have enough stainless out back to build one for nothing.  I really think the fact I haven't should be pretty telling.
-Jeff

Offline chef-marty

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Re: Alfa wood burning oven "4 Pizze"
« Reply #14 on: July 13, 2013, 02:08:52 PM »
I've been waiting for the nay-sayers to show up. I suppose the quality of what I produced from my oven doesn't mean a thing. I am not saying that these ovens can replace a real woodfired brick oven with the low dome and heavy mass. They are however an acceptable solution for people who are not willing to fire an oven for 2 hours only to cook a few 90 second pizzas. I got great results!!

Offline Tscarborough

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Re: Alfa wood burning oven "4 Pizze"
« Reply #15 on: July 13, 2013, 03:12:13 PM »
Not at all.  If it works for you, there is no better oven.  I would not advise a neophyte to spend 2400 bucks on that oven, but I would never denigrate your choice.  If it works for you, that is all that matters.

Offline shuboyje

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Re: Alfa wood burning oven "4 Pizze"
« Reply #16 on: July 13, 2013, 04:15:05 PM »
Well, for 1/10th the price you can get a Blackstone, and cook pizza just as good if not better, be hot in 10-15 minutes, and do away with the hassle of wood.  I just don't see where an oven like this has a place at a price like that.  I think $800 would be a much more reasonable price point for what I see and that is knowing the material and labor cost better then anyone you are going to talk to.
-Jeff


Offline tmp24

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Re: Alfa wood burning oven "4 Pizze"
« Reply #17 on: July 13, 2013, 04:41:58 PM »
There are many distributors in the US. I actually wrote directly to the Alfa company in Italy and they pointed me in the right direction to a local distributor.  Costco & Amazon sells them too.  I think they are going to become more readily available.  I went to the dealer & it really is a pretty oven, not cheaply built.  It's rather stylish & elegant with smooth lines.  Light too.  Is it an old fashioned wood burning oven?  No, but still has plenty of Italian style!

I think it's a good alternative for a modern family/cook.  I've been afraid to ask questions about it on here because all of the purists out there seem so adamant about not liking any oven that hasn't been built by an old Neapolitan man! Goodness knows what would make them happy!  I've read so many posts that I'm left clueless as to what they actually want.  From the looks of it, they ovens they love cost even more.  I did write to someone on the forum who has one and he loves it.

That said - to each his own.  I'd love a traditional oven but just can't do that right now.  This might be the best option I have until we can build one - in 20 years or so.  If we get this oven - we won't have to wait!  As Chef Marty says - technique & ingredients come into play.  I'm a trained chef & even though I'm not a pizzaiolo, I think I could make a good pie or two in that oven!  If I do get it, I'll be sure to post pics and write of my experiences.

Sorry for the rant and happy pizza making!

Offline Tscarborough

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Re: Alfa wood burning oven "4 Pizze"
« Reply #18 on: July 13, 2013, 04:52:47 PM »
That sounds like an ad to me.  You can do anything that oven will do in a 40 dollar Weber BBQ grill, and do much better in a home oven with proper preparation.  If it does not hurt your pocketbook or your soul to blow $2400 dollars, then go for it, but it is not a state of the art solution to cooking a pizza.

Offline chef-marty

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Re: Alfa wood burning oven "4 Pizze"
« Reply #19 on: July 13, 2013, 05:16:05 PM »
Of course I had to buy what was available in Italy. I did no shopping here in the US. I know that it is stainless and considered second rate by the purists. I am not a brick layer and me building my own oven, on my vacation of only 14 days, was not an option. To buy the correct refractory bricks, cement blocks for the stand, 2 layers of insulation, pay for the labor of a maestro bricklayer, the correct cement, all of the other parts was actually more expensive than the Alfa when I had estimates given to me. 

I did see other SS ovens and in comparison, this thing is really built! It weighs in at 330 pounds and will do 4 pizza at a time. There is some mass. It was still warm hours after I made that pizza in the picture. It was worth the extra money to get something this substantial especially in lieu of a real brick oven. I really doubt that someone could build one like this one at home with the steel in their back yard. It is made from very thick stainless and does not come off as a toy in person. The floor is made from their famous refractory bricks. Alfa has been building ovens for along time and has a great reputation. They make a little one called the "Ciao" and that one is toy-like and is in 800 Euro price range. Obviously, the 4-pizza model has more to it.

Not all SS ovens are built the same.

Marty

Knowing that I can just heat and cook great pizza without a lot of time heating and I can move it around or take with me when I move makes it worthwhile.

Offline Tscarborough

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Re: Alfa wood burning oven "4 Pizze"
« Reply #20 on: July 13, 2013, 05:19:14 PM »
Still sounds like an ad.


Offline chef-marty

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Re: Alfa wood burning oven "4 Pizze"
« Reply #21 on: July 13, 2013, 05:23:52 PM »
That sounds like an ad to me.  You can do anything that oven will do in a 40 dollar Weber BBQ grill, and do much better in a home oven with proper preparation.  If it does not hurt your pocketbook or your soul to blow $2400 dollars, then go for it, but it is not a state of the art solution to cooking a pizza.

Hi Tscarborough,

Ive never seen a home oven get to 800 degrees like when I popped that baby in the oven (only 20 minutes after I started the fire too.). It took just over 100 seconds to cook. You could NEVER cook like that at home or on a webber of any cost.

As far as sounding like an ad, I can see why you say that. I am purposely trying to convince some of you that these ovens are of good use. I knew that it would take a lot of convincing and I am expecting naysayers.

Offline Tscarborough

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Re: Alfa wood burning oven "4 Pizze"
« Reply #22 on: July 13, 2013, 06:28:44 PM »
For that much money I would at least expect a Happy Ending. 

Offline shuboyje

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Re: Alfa wood burning oven "4 Pizze"
« Reply #23 on: July 13, 2013, 07:57:58 PM »
I did see other SS ovens and in comparison, this thing is really built! It weighs in at 330 pounds and will do 4 pizza at a time. There is some mass. It was still warm hours after I made that pizza in the picture. It was worth the extra money to get something this substantial especially in lieu of a real brick oven. I really doubt that someone could build one like this one at home with the steel in their back yard. It is made from very thick stainless and does not come off as a toy in person. The floor is made from their famous refractory bricks. Alfa has been building ovens for along time and has a great reputation. They make a little one called the "Ciao" and that one is toy-like and is in 800 Euro price range. Obviously, the 4-pizza model has more to it.

Not all SS ovens are built the same.
You obviously have no respect for skilled craftsmen with statements like that.  Do you have any concept of what a trained, skilled sheetmetal worker makes in this day and age?  I can assure you there isn't a product around at retail that is made by one due to the labor costs.  Your overpriced oven was built by unskilled production workers with minimal on the job training, I will guarantee that.  I could build it in my backyard standing on my head.  As for materials, I have a pile of 16 gauge stainless enough to build 5 of them, and I would bet there isn't a piece of 16 gauge on there, probably 18 and 20. 

My issues with ovens like these have little to do with tradition, heck I stated the blackstone as an alternative, and every thing to do with their inflated pricing and complete lack of understanding of how a wood fired oven works.  Do you know why every masonry wood fired oven around has a dome thicker then the floor?  Because heat rises.  The top of the oven will always get more heat then the bottom.  The dome and it's extra mass serves as a heat "battery".  It stores the heat that helps keep the temperatures inside the oven stable and recharges the floor.  Your oven has no battery.  The floor has thermal mass, but once you place food on it and start removing heat from it you are left with only the fire to recharge the floor.  Temperature stability will be a major issue, as will extended cooking sessions like pizza parties.  Even then some may deal with the short comings and inflated price if there where no alternatives on the market or it could produce a 60 second neapolitan pizza.  As already mentioned the blackstone is on the market for $370 and can do a 60 second pizza pretty easily.  Your 100 second pizza looks good, we'd all eat it, but when trying to sell people on an oven 100 seconds won't impress anyone, especially not an oven that costs up to $4k. 

The issue here isn't with you, your oven or your pizza.  It is with trying to sell OTHER PEOPLE on this product.  It simply isn't a purchase an informed consumer should make.
-Jeff

scott123

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Re: Alfa wood burning oven "4 Pizze"
« Reply #24 on: July 13, 2013, 10:34:20 PM »
Ive never seen a home oven get to 800 degrees like when I popped that baby in the oven (only 20 minutes after I started the fire too.). It took just over 100 seconds to cook. You could NEVER cook like that at home or on a webber of any cost.

Both of these pizzas were baked in a $370 Blackstone oven for under 90 seconds (and a 20 minute pre-heat):
« Last Edit: July 13, 2013, 10:38:47 PM by scott123 »