The Backyard Pizzeria
By Mike Hiller
What to buy the person who has everything? A backyard pizza oven. Everybody loves pizza, but not everybody loves the idea of ordering takeout or delivery. Dining inside a restaurant right now can be even more problematic. But what if you could make at home the kind of crisp, crackly, golden brown pizzas served at restaurants such as Cane Rosso or Taverna Rossa? If you’ve tried already, you know how maddeningly difficult it can be. The answer, it turns out, is simple: Those restaurants bake their pizzas in wood-fired ovens that hit 900 degrees, a searing heat that bubbles and blisters crusts in just 90 seconds. Your home oven? Even the best ones struggle to get to 550 degrees.
We’ve fallen in love with two backyard solutions that bring the heat without forcing you to hire a brick mason or reinforce your patio.
Ooni Pro Multi-Fuel Outdoor Pizza Oven
If the Ñuke won’t fit under your Christmas tree, the folks at Ooni have a solution. Their tabletop Ooni Pro is pure genius. Fueled by charcoal, wood chunks or gas (with an add-on adapter), the compact steel oven can reach 800 degrees in about 20 minutes — faster than DoorDash can reach your home – and cook a restaurant-worthy 16-inch pie in 90 seconds. The Ooni Pro’s lightweight ceramic-fiber insulation and foldable legs bring portability to the equation, though its 48-pound shell is better suited for transport between the garage and your backyard than a walk to the park. If you want a good-looking pizza oven with a small footprint and plenty of fuel options, the Ooni Pro is our pick.
This wood-fired oven, hand built in Argentina and shipped directly to your home, is our runaway favorite. Designed by artisans who understand both heat science and deliciousness, the Pizzero’s insulated, double-wall, stainless steel dome and ceramic cooking floor easily reach a pizza-worthy 750 degrees. Its large cooking surface — 22 inches deep and 32 inches wide — is broad enough to bake a couple of individual pies or a family-size 19-incher. And because you can fuel it with either coal or wood, it can burn for hours — long enough to roast vegetables as the dome heats up, bake pizzas and sear steaks as the heat peaks, then slow-roast a leg of lamb on the way down. We love the Pizzero’s sleek lines, durable steel base (with built-in wheels), enormous cooking chamber and thoughtful design. The moveable fire tray, coal rake and adjustable draft vent make controlling the heat a breeze. With free shipping anywhere in the continental United States, the Pizzero is an affordable luxury that even your neighbors with Teslas and wine cellars will envy. More importantly, it solves the riddle of what to buy the person who has (almost) everything. Yes, there’s a learning curve to master. But at least the mistakes will be hot and delicious.