What makes a great commercial brick oven? First, let us understand what makes the oven work so well and a little history from ancient Pompei.
The Pompeii of Ancient Rome used the familiar domed shape that we are familiar with today. The brick and stone ovens were well-shaped, well-insulated, well-vented, and skillfully built. The oven floor was made from tempered terracotta tiles, about 2″ thick, and a dome that was a round spherical shape. The domes were built using brick set on their flat side and covered with about 1″ of mortar, then insulated with a type of refractory clay. This was truly a master craftsmen skill, and the ovens are just incredible.
The neighborhoods of Pompei where the ovens were located were also home to food shops and business marts. They even had insulated terra cotta trays for serving hot food and cold. There is evidence that woodfired ovens like the ones used in Naples today were employed by the Ancient Greeks, and some scholars assume that Greek mariners brought this technology with them to the city.
Thanks to Vesuvius’ explosive eruption in 79AD, you can visit Pompeii today and see some amazing examples of artisan brick ovens responsible for our beloved pizza today. Over 33 domed clay and brick (incredible) ovens, complete with facades and chimneys have been unearthed. You can truly get a sense of returning in time and envision the skilled artisan bakers who worked them.
The ancient slopes of Vesuvius had some of the most fertile soil that produced an abundance of grains and fruits. They were truly considered to be blessed and the grain and bread production of the area became a symbol of Pompeii itself. An actual ancient engravement on the entrance walls of the city is translated to say, “Traveler you enjoy bread at Pompeii” These ovens where were the first pizzas were made with all types of ingredients and I am sure they must have been incredible.
So today we put our best foot forward in replicating the art of the brick oven.
In order to ensure that you choose the best commercial wood-fired pizza oven for your business there are several factors that need to be taken into consideration. The shape and dimensions and thermal mass of the pizza oven are key. The shape of the oven is half-spherical in order to influence the way in which air circulates inside it. The dome shape forms a small pocket where the fire-generated hot air circulates over the pizza with radiant energy. The radiant energy as it builds up in the dome transfers the heat down to the surface.
As the heat rises from the fire to the top it is then absorbed into the dome where it reflects it back down to ensure an evenly cooked pizza in just a couple of minutes. The Thermal mass of the oven is one of the key components to efficiency and an even bake. It is the mass, the density and weight all combined with the correct refractory materials, (the high silica content of the stone) that hold the heat and then redisperses it.
Your oven should be able to hold heat and be well insulated. When you come in in the morning to fire it up it should still be hot from the night before due to insulation and proper thermal mass.
The mouth and door of the oven needs not be too big or too small as to create a manageable entrance. The oven’s mouth needs to be big enough for food to be easily put in and then retrieved. It is also important to be able to manage the fire without dissipating or wasting energy and heat.
The speed at which a good commercial oven can heat up is crucial and will depend on both the characteristics of its structure and on factors such as its air flow, the firewood type it uses or gas system. A good wood-fired and gas commercial pizza oven should be able to reach and maintain a very high temperature of 800f. within an hour and be ready to cook.
We love the art and build our ovens with all the above in mind and make one of the most efficient and easy ovens to operate.