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Offline quietdesperation

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musings on a home pizza oven
« on: March 20, 2017, 08:32:44 PM »
I joined this forum to learn how to make Neapolitan pizza in my primo pit.  txcraig1 was good enough to point out the challenges I'd face: uneven heating due to a bottom-based heat source and loss of temp when the pit was opened. Additionally, it's not clear the primo gaskets survive 900+ degree temps. So I decided to take a pizza detour: learn to make dough/pizza in my home oven while researching dedicated pizza ovens suitable for Neopolitan bakes. I can definitively state that I'm at least a couple of months away from good pizza out of my home oven but, based on my last effort, I believe there's light at the end of the tunnel. So I've started to research pizza ovens with an eye towards a purchase in about 6 months. What follows is my analysis to date.

first some relevant personal facts. I retired last august at age 60. We live in a northern suburb of nyc, with lots of yard and deck space. We also have a pied a terre in manhattan. We'll probably sell our house in 5 years and split our time between manhattan and somewhere warm. The absolute cost of an oven is not an issue but I've always been a disciple of the Millionare Next Door lifestyle (https://www.amazon.com/dp/1589795474/?tag=pmak-20) with a focus on living below our means.

I've spent some time thinking about four solutions: home build, pizzaparty (gas and wood), roccbox and blackstone:

building a pizza oven -  I took a look at the plans from fornobravo and they are daunting. It's almost comical how unequipped I am to build an oven. I own screwdrivers, hammers, pliers and a wrench. I've never poured concrete, built a wooden frame, mortared brick, etc. Also, there'd be a lot more ROI were we to live in the house longer than five years. Still, this solution does have appeal. I have lots of time for research, planning, sourcing of materials and execution. I'd take great satisfaction in building something functional and beautiful.

pizza party - I've done a lot of forum reading about pizzaparty ovens and haven't found a single negative review. Seems like great quality, support and results. But I've started doing some thinking about ROI.

One of the reasons I'm not further along with my pizza making skills is that I'm very concerned about the ill effects of consuming pizza and as such, don't make pizza very frequently.  My behavior is reinforced by recent posts in norma's Get Well Thread where forum member chau and others talk about reducing the frequency of pizza consumption for health reasons. I've led a healthy life and definitely don't want to start gaining weight at this point.

Right now I'm thinking one pizza every two weeks is a healthy metric. That's 260 pizzas over the course of ten years. Completely outfitted, the pizzaparty will cost somewhere between $1,400 and $2,000. I'm not sure 260 pizzas warrants that type of spend. To be 10 years younger...

roccbox - the roccbox has garnered sparse but very positive reviews. It's beautifully designed and appears to be well-made. The price point is about half that of a pizzaparty. I'll be looking for more data points over the next six months but this is a promising solution.

blackstone - I'm about 23 pages into the blackstone thread, another 200 or so to go. Getting through the thread may be harder than building my own oven! I suppose, like everyone else, I like the price point but have serious concerns about ergonomics, quality and longevity. Additionally, over the fullness of time, I've learned the value of paying for quality. It's a joy to use a well-engineered solution. I'm guessing I could eventually make good pizza with this device but would eventually become frustrated by the lack of build quality.

I'd love/value your insight and suggestions.

best,

« Last Edit: March 21, 2017, 10:26:32 AM by quietdesperation »
"Pizza is a lot like sex. When it's good, it's really good. When it's bad, it's still pretty good." - Woody Allen

Offline rrpizza

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Re: musings on a home pizza oven
« Reply #1 on: March 20, 2017, 09:38:33 PM »
So I just went with a PP - > Did a lot of reading on this forums seeing what people were producing. I did a run through with a pizzacraft oven over the last few years with great results and consistently make pizzas that improved and made we want to create more, be able to hold heat level consistently and make true Neapolitan. Another main reason I picked the PP was also have a tool to create great pizzas but also for bread and even experiment with smoking and roasting meat in the oven as well.. so not treating it as a one trick tool in the house.

Offline quietdesperation

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Re: musings on a home pizza oven
« Reply #2 on: March 20, 2017, 09:50:06 PM »
thanks rrpizza! which pp did you order and what factors drove you to your choice? I'm intrigued by the gas/wood option.
"Pizza is a lot like sex. When it's good, it's really good. When it's bad, it's still pretty good." - Woody Allen

Offline rrpizza

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Re: musings on a home pizza oven
« Reply #3 on: March 20, 2017, 10:09:27 PM »
I went with the gas/wood option. It was a true back and forth for months between which one would be the best choice but I thought for sure I would kick myself wanting to play with gas one day or maybe think my wife might be interested in using the oven from time to time and gas might be an easier entry point for her as we learn how to use the oven. I also ended up going for gas b/c I do not have a wood shed or a supply of dry wood built up just yet.. something I need to look into in Virginia where I just moved and see where there are some good spots to get some nice dry wood for the oven. I can use gas to have an easier control on heat(while i enjoy some pops) but can still have the option to go into learning how to properly heat and maintain an oven with wood a good transition from what I use to cook with.

What are you thinking of?

Offline quietdesperation

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Re: musings on a home pizza oven
« Reply #4 on: March 20, 2017, 11:43:57 PM »
 I love the fact that you worked with a pizzacraft. I used to teach tennis in high school and college. To this day, I see people with big, powerful racquets that allow them to reach intermediate levels but their modicum of success prevents them from achieving more advanced stroke techniques. I'm mindful that today I don't have advanced pizza making techniques and the oven itself, like those big tennis racquets, may cover a host of flaws. You, on the other hand, have a great core skillset that can be applied to the pp.

in any case, were I to choose today, I'd buy a wood/gas oven, probably the bollore with saputo bricks. We'll be empty nesters in the fall and don't need something the size of the Passione.

rrpizza, I think you made a great choice, looking forward to reading your review and seeing photos of the pizza!

best,
"Pizza is a lot like sex. When it's good, it's really good. When it's bad, it's still pretty good." - Woody Allen

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Offline barryvabeach

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Re: musings on a home pizza oven
« Reply #5 on: March 21, 2017, 07:12:09 AM »
Everything I have read about the PP is positive,  however, I own a Blackstone, and while the price point is pretty cheap,  I must say mine has been working great.   First, having a revolving pizza stone is a nice touch.  Second, while there have been some complaints about build quality early on,  I bought mine in the spring of 2013, it stays outdoors all year long, and it has worked fine.  Every once in a while, it needs a little maintenance,  but in my case, less work than a gas grill.   Third,  the BS is a pizza making machine, many of the other options ( except for the new PP with gas), require that you become good at fire management to get good results,  for the BS, it is simply turning a dial.  I thought the lack of a natural gas option would be a major pain, but I make one pizza a week, and a tank lasts a long time.   Finally, if you are concerned about the health aspects,  look into sourdough starters and fresh whole wheat.  I use only 100 percent home milled whole wheat, with a sourdough starter, and have read that is the best from a health perspective.

Offline jonohanson

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Re: musings on a home pizza oven
« Reply #6 on: March 21, 2017, 07:53:57 AM »
I recently went through similar decisions and ended up buying the Uuni 3, it's extremely portable, runs on wood pellets (and gas soon) and turns out consistently good pizza. 

In the UK it's £200 so a very good price, there is also the slightly larger Uuni pro coming out.

Definitely worth consideration.

Offline quietdesperation

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Re: musings on a home pizza oven
« Reply #7 on: March 21, 2017, 10:26:07 AM »
thank you barryvabeach, I find your posts informative and helpful, your post about the bs/whole wheat dough was no exception. I'm early days in the bs thread, (chau has just published his first pictures!), I'm sure by the time I finish the thread I'll have a better opinion of the device. there is something primal about cooking on wood and I'm drawn to the ideal of following the neopolitan tradition which may lead me to a pp.

jonohanson, I've been following your uuni 3 journey with interest. I like that Uuni seems to compress product cycles, I'll definitely continue to read your thread and keep an eye out for reviews of the uuni pro

I had my first conversation on this topic with swmbo last night, she suggested I purchase whatever gives me the most pleasure.
« Last Edit: March 21, 2017, 11:24:58 AM by quietdesperation »
"Pizza is a lot like sex. When it's good, it's really good. When it's bad, it's still pretty good." - Woody Allen

Offline italdream

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Re: musings on a home pizza oven
« Reply #8 on: March 21, 2017, 10:41:54 AM »
pizza party - I've done a lot of forum reading about pizzaparty ovens and haven't found a single negative review. Seems like great quality, support and results. But I've started doing some thinking about ROI.

One of the reasons I'm not further along with my pizza making skills is that I'm very concerned about the ill effects of consuming pizza and as such, don't make pizza very frequently.  My behavior is reinforced by recent posts in norma's Get Well Thread where forum member chau and others talk about reducing the frequency of pizza consumption for health reasons. I've led a healthy life and definitely don't want to start gaining weight at this point.

Right now I'm thinking one pizza every two weeks is a healthy metric. That's 260 pizzas over the course of ten years. Completely outfitted, the pizzaparty will cost somewhere between $1,400 and $2,000. I'm not sure 260 pizzas warrants that type of spend. To be 10 years younger...

I have thought about this a lot. For the past three years, I have been on a perennial low carb diet. Yes, you heard well, a low carb diet. Does it go well with pizza making, you bet it does not.

So I switched my thinking entirely. This is a hobby and I want to continue pursuing it because I find it enjoyable, it it relaxes me, it makes me happy. My skills have suffered not being able to make pizza every week, as I'd like, but here is my conclusion after some soul-searching on the issue:

1. Hobbies are not always supposed to make financial sense. What makes sense economically is finding a decently-priced Neapolitan pizzeria within a certain radius and eat there occasionally.
2. In the past 4 months alone, I have spent over $3,000 in pizza ovens and supplies. For three pizza sessions. Even without accounting for ingredients, that comes to around $250 per pizzas. Some were test pies. Some did not come perfectly. How many more will I do this year? How many more during the life of the equipment? I do not know, but probably still not enough to make sense economically.
3. When I have a party at home (whether it is with friends or kids' birthday party), you bet they are going to enjoy some pizzas at some point. Fun time for me.
4. There is always something to experiment with, whether it is a new sourdough or a different dough formula, I am often enjoying the journey here and there, no matter how little time my work allows.

In sum, I think that what equipment you buy is totally up to you. But the only way of looking at this that makes any financial sense is if you look at it as a hobby. Anything else would feel like a useless waste of money. If you enjoy the journey, you will find comfort in traveling with the right gears.



Pizza Party Passione | Alive and Kicking
Blackstone | Semiretired
Kettle Grill Insert | Dumped
Little Black Egg | Retired with Honors
Modified Pizza Bella | Retired with Honors

Offline quietdesperation

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Re: musings on a home pizza oven
« Reply #9 on: March 21, 2017, 01:45:15 PM »
thanks italdream. If you don't mind me asking, which ovens did you buy in the last 3 months and which do you like best?
"Pizza is a lot like sex. When it's good, it's really good. When it's bad, it's still pretty good." - Woody Allen

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Offline italdream

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Re: musings on a home pizza oven
« Reply #10 on: March 21, 2017, 04:38:18 PM »
I bought only one oven: a Pizza Party Passione plus Saputo Floor. I also bought a bunch of accessories, including the stand, the large peel for metro, eolo, etc. It adds up

The other supplies were a bunch of stuff  that I don't really need, including three pizza peels imported from Italy (I graduated from a Blackstone so pizza peels were a must, maybe just not three and not all from Italy): one to rotate, one perforated to launch and one for show.

In my signature you can see various systems I went through in the past few years. The best low budget option was the BlackStone. Pretty poor quality if you ask me, but not bad for that price, and back in the day, definitely a game changer.

I do not know about the roccbox, but please check the size. If the floor is smaller than a Blackstone, I would say to think well about how big you want your pizzas to be.
« Last Edit: March 21, 2017, 06:13:06 PM by italdream »
Pizza Party Passione | Alive and Kicking
Blackstone | Semiretired
Kettle Grill Insert | Dumped
Little Black Egg | Retired with Honors
Modified Pizza Bella | Retired with Honors

Offline rrpizza

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Re: musings on a home pizza oven
« Reply #11 on: March 21, 2017, 05:08:26 PM »
size and also how many pizzas. With the pizzacraft I was able to do 2 really before the floor of the oven lost all temp and would take much longer to cook a pizza and just change the desired texture I wanted in the pizzas or the tops end up cooking much faster then the bottoms in that case.

I dont think BS suffers from such a limitation of 2 pizzas and the roccbox its still pretty new so I think I have only seen a few pizzas produced from the bakes ppl have done.

Offline quietdesperation

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Re: musings on a home pizza oven
« Reply #12 on: March 21, 2017, 05:25:35 PM »
about 20 years ago I bought a weber smokey mountain for $200. It's been used well over 1,000 times, I've never had to replace a part and it works as well as the day I bought it. Additionally, I've won awards at bbq contests with it, beating teams  who spent over $5k on their smokers

we need something like that for Neapolitan pizza!
"Pizza is a lot like sex. When it's good, it's really good. When it's bad, it's still pretty good." - Woody Allen

Offline italdream

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Re: musings on a home pizza oven
« Reply #13 on: March 21, 2017, 06:01:55 PM »
about 20 years ago I bought a weber smokey mountain for $200. It's been used well over 1,000 times, I've never had to replace a part and it works as well as the day I bought it. Additionally, I've won awards at bbq contests with it, beating teams  who spent over $5k on their smokers

we need something like that for Neapolitan pizza!

Good luck getting anything that durable for $200 these days, even adjusted for inflation. Anyway, at present we have great, albeit imperfect, options for Neapolitan style. Till only 5-6 years ago, we were tinkering with modified grills and other sub-optimal options. Your next step up would have been either the expensive 2stone, or an even more expensice brick oven without the right temperature dynamics for Neapolitan. Or you could go full Ferrara or Acunto like in a commercial setting.

I feel like your best bet is probably a Blackstone. Just keep it covered inside when not in use, and change the motor with something better from Amazon. That would not break the bank and do good Neapolitan to rival some of the more expensive options. BS hates water and will get rusty, so keep it nice and dry.
« Last Edit: March 21, 2017, 06:03:28 PM by italdream »
Pizza Party Passione | Alive and Kicking
Blackstone | Semiretired
Kettle Grill Insert | Dumped
Little Black Egg | Retired with Honors
Modified Pizza Bella | Retired with Honors

Offline HBolte

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Re: musings on a home pizza oven
« Reply #14 on: March 22, 2017, 10:20:32 AM »


we need something like that for Neapolitan pizza!

We have it...the Blackstone.
Hans

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Offline quietdesperation

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Re: musings on a home pizza oven
« Reply #15 on: March 22, 2017, 11:23:04 AM »
We have it...the Blackstone.

really? you believe the blackstone has the durability to last 10-15 years without replacing a part?
"Pizza is a lot like sex. When it's good, it's really good. When it's bad, it's still pretty good." - Woody Allen

Offline HBolte

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Re: musings on a home pizza oven
« Reply #16 on: March 22, 2017, 12:22:19 PM »
Time will tell. Mine is only two years old, I have not replaced anything but a set of batteries yet. It is extremely simple, I don't foresee anything going bad except maybe the motor eventually.
Hans

Offline old_alex

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Re: musings on a home pizza oven
« Reply #17 on: March 22, 2017, 01:32:40 PM »
I have a Blackstone as does my Pastor (another story). I got them both during the famous Lowes sell off, $169 and $100 respectively. Mine is two + years now, yes there were minor flaws but I am an engineer and if one has a hobby you expect to tinker. I did the bearing mod and use food grade lubricant and my motor spins with no effort. I also have the cover and keep the unit in the garage covered (I did have to treat rust spots on the second one before I gave it to my Pastor). Before my Blackstone I tried a BakerStone Pizza box it worked OK but this is quantum leaps above that. The benefit of the turning platen is that you don't have to do it. In Italy you will see two people working the oven a fornaio  (baker / turner) and a pizzaiolo (pizza maker, also makes the dough....). So you have a built in fornaio for turning anyway. I find that the cook time (at 750-800F) allows me to make the next pizza while the first is in the oven. For the money you cannot beat it and you can tinker like any hobby (200+ pages of posts have to tell you that).  I have used it to make pizza almost every Saturday since I got it. You can make focaccia, ciabatta bread, calzones, and garlic knots rolls (these I do at 550-600F). One recent thing you won't believe how it improves leftover pizza (put it on parchment at about 500F for a minute, until the top is about 230F using a IR thermometer). After heating up I can turn out a pizza almost every 3-4 minutes, I place them in racks in my home oven (up to 4) I am done cooking in under 20 minutes, and can sit with my guests or at least keep up with them.

It was the easiest way to feed my son's football friends for the least amount of money $2.50 - $3 a pizza with toppings). I set up a 6 foot table in the garage for prep and have the unit in the garage, even in the pitch of the summer the ceiling of the garage only gets to about 100F. The 15 minute preheat in the winter brings the garage up to a tolerable temperature.

Right now with one in medical school and the other in college I don't have that much extra cash. I too have lived the life of "The millionaire next door." hence the reason I have a blackstone. Spend a little extra money on a good wooden peel and a steel one.

Offline Jersey Pie Boy

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Re: musings on a home pizza oven
« Reply #18 on: March 22, 2017, 03:41:27 PM »
QD,


I've had the BS about 2 years and I totally enjoy it.. For me, that was a pretty big purchase..actually my wife bought it for me as a gift, very nice! I really couldn't have quite justified it. But for me, it's pretty great...though PP would have been, and may someday be a consideration. Maybe. I really like the idea of quickly setting up the BS, baking pies and putting it away until next time...gotten very efficient at it.  The motors are replaceable..I've done so twice..the stock motor is nothing special. I replaced the stone The regulator has died, easily replaced. It's not a lifetime purchase but at that price, doesn't need to be. If you're planning to move from the suburbs to the city and a snowbird location, building an oven upstate doesn't seem to be the best option. Maybe save that for your sunny spot...and  something small and portable f you have an outdoor space  in the city?

Offline quietdesperation

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Re: musings on a home pizza oven
« Reply #19 on: March 23, 2017, 11:56:35 AM »
old_alex, thanks for the informative post. $100 for the BS! Sounds like an automatic purchase!

on the tinkering aspect, I was a software engineer and can get a computer to do just about anything. But, based on the results of my non-virtual engineering projects, I have a healthy and realistic fear of immolation (or worse). I suppose if I sat down and really studied the inner-workings of the bs, I'd be able to figure it out.

congrats on the medical school acceptance! My D is starting pre-med in the fall (along with about 1/3rd of her classmates). I feel your tuition pain, we have three kids, about halfway through, out tuition pattern is 1-1-2-2-2-2-1-1.
========
JPB, thanks! good idea on bringing a gas-powered oven to nyc, I penned a note to our coop board, their answer might tip me towards a smaller oven.


                                                                                                                                 
« Last Edit: March 23, 2017, 12:03:14 PM by quietdesperation »
"Pizza is a lot like sex. When it's good, it's really good. When it's bad, it's still pretty good." - Woody Allen

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