Now I may just have returned from an Italian vacation and started the Chef's Table: Pizza season last night, but my love for pizza is no new fad. As an Angeleno who grew up amidst the barbecue chicken revolution of California Pizza Kitchen, I've always been a pizza junkie, but for years assumed it was all about the toppings. In fact, it took falling in love with a Tri-Stater to come to appreciate the real-deal, red sauce origins.
Nowadays, I'm of the opinion that when it comes to pizza, all you need is good dough, good sauce, and hot, hot heat. And try as my convection oven might (or even the pizza stone a friend of mine got me for my grill) there's just no competing with a genuine pizza oven. They get up to the stratospheric temperatures good pizza crust wants – and though they all purportedly reach the same result, there's enough variation in size, fuel type, and cost that we felt it was time to round up the best there is on the market.
So whether you're a novice with rise times or you've got your marinara down so well you're an honorary paisan, the six ovens below are your gateway to crusty, saucy perfection.
For Proven Excellence: Ooni
If you care enough about pizza ovens to even click on this article, chances are you don't need me to tell you about Ooni. It’s the undisputed industry leader in name recognition, practically synonymous with the outdoor oven. And to the brand’s credit, Ooni makes a fantastic product. From the 12" Fyra Wood Pellet Oven ($349) to the 16" Karu Multi-Fuel Oven ($799), Ooni offers flexibility in size and fuel type across the board. It's also highly portable, at only 27 pounds, and can reach up to 950 degrees Fahrenheit – a temperature that'll finish off your pizza in just sixty seconds. It's hard to find a knock against the brand, and for that we can't begrudge its stratospheric success.
For A Stylish Alternative: Gozney
A chic little competitor has been rising up the ranks, however, and that's Gozney. With a 'Grammable look that feels equally contemporary and out of The Jetsons, Gozney's flagship Roccbox ($499 for gas only, $599 for dual fuel) is party-ready and restaurant-grade. At 16 inches wide, it's $200 cheaper than Ooni's similarly sized multi-fuel model, making it a very attractive option for several reasons. With similar portability and the same 950 degree F capacity, Gozney's ovens are certainly coming for the throne.
For Low Cost And High Rewards: Bertello
The dirty little secret about the pizza oven? It's not a very complicated technology. While bells, whistles and aesthetic touches go a long way towards drawing us in, pizza-making – and wood-fired cooking in general – has historically been a humble discipline. For that reason, full disclosure here, when it came time to buy my own pizza oven, I went with Bertello. With a 16" gas-and-wood model that clocks in at just $499, the additional savings were just as persuasive to me as the 4.9/5 star average reviews. The truth is, this little number works just as well as the big dogs in the ring, and on my first night of using it I was churning out delicious Neopolitan-style pizzas in under 90 seconds. Affordable, simple and user-friendly? It's hard to argue with that.
For Steely Sleekness: Solo Stove
So far on this list, the above ovens have all employed a similar shape: a tubular, hut-like structure that seems to tunnel backwards. Solo Stove, on the other hand, rocks the same circular design that's made its smokeless fire pits so desirable. The Pi Pizza Oven ($459 for wood only, $634 for wood and gas) saves space, but offers a panoramic opening that makes launching and maneuvering pizzas easy with a good peel. If you're a fan of simple stainless steel, look no further.
For Keeping It High-Voltage: Breville
Similarly stainless steel, but with one key distinction, Breville's Smart Oven Pizzaiolo ($999.95) is the only all-electric model on the list. While I'll admit that the drama of an open flame is a huge part of the pizza-making experience for me – not to mention it imparts real smoky flavor – electric ovens are truly a fantastic indoor option. It may only reach 750F (as opposed to our top competitors' 950), but its powerful heating elements replicate the three types of heat present in a traditional wood-fired oven: conductive, radiant and convective. Whether you're short on yard space or just don't like playing with fire, Breville will cook up your pizzas in around 2 minutes with nothing more than a plug and an outlet. Just save some room on your countertop.
For The Ultimate Throwdown: Mugnaini
The true artisans on this list, Mugniani pizza ovens come out of a direct partnership with Refrattari Valoriani, the patenter of the Tuscan pizza oven design in 1946. For thirty years now, Mugniani has been a standard-setter for authentic Italian wood-fired ovens, producing large-scale products for restaurants as well as equally thoughtful smaller ovens for us home cooks. These pre-assembled residential ovens are the definition of splurge – from $6,950 for the smaller Piccolo to $15,450 for the Prima's 48" cooking surface – and aren't for everyone, to say the least. But for those of you looking to go big or go home, Mugniani has got you covered, even offering masonry kits for those who want to construct their pizza paradise themselves.
And I think all of us pizza lovers can agree: there are worse things to build temples to.