In the few decades it took outdoor grills to go from something that held a bag of charcoal and a plate of hamburgers to machines commodious and powerful enough to roast a fatted calf, homeowners have set up alfresco kitchens, weatherproofed dining areas, and generally moved their entertaining outside. Manufacturers have responded with regular unveilings of new outdoor appliances: refrigerators, ovens, and even kitchen sinks. But nothing stirs as much excitement as the annual debut of new grills.
Photo by Rob Cardillo, design by Mark Mendel and Monterey Masonry.
The 20 minutes it takes to cook a pizza in a regular oven might not seem like much of a wait, but it will feel like an eternity once you have the opportunity to flash cook a pie in an old-fashioned, wood-fired pizza oven. A Neapolitan-style pizza bakes to perfection in just less than three minutes in the traditional dome-shaped chamber, and the experience of pulling one, bubbling and crisp, from the oven is positively addictive.
Landscape designer Brook Klausing's picks for great outdoor furniture.
Although they may look primitive, wood-fired pizza ovens are actually incredibly nuanced cooking instruments. Lighting seasoned wood and positioning it in the rear and to one side of the igloo-shaped structures sets up a complex process. Warm air and smoke make their way from the back of the oven and up the chimney (located near the front of the oven on most models). As the smoke and hot air exits, it creates a vacuum, which draws in fresh air through the mouth of the oven that stokes the fire and creates more heat.