You don’t need to have a lot of space to create fabulous pizza at home.
Making pizza at home can range from the bare minimum of topping an English muffin with some sauce and cheese in the toaster oven all the way up to importing a wood-fired Neapolitan oven to be built in your kitchen. But for all the homemade pizza lovers in the middle, the challenge has always been how to get the oven hot enough, as residential ovens rarely reach the soaring temperatures of pizzeria ovens needed for a perfect pie. In recent years though, there’s been a breakthrough: the portable outdoor pizza oven. The idea is simple—plunk one of these ovens outside, fire it up with propane, wood, or charcoal, and start slinging some pies.
Adam Kuban, a pizza expert (he founded Slice, one of the internet’s earliest and most respected single-food blogs, in 2003) and a jokingly self-described “pizza influencer,” has spent considerable time with home and professional ovens alike. Using different models of portable pizza ovens, he’s cooked pies at a Catskills vacation rental, on a Brooklyn rooftop, in a Queens garden, and on a New York City terrace, all with great success. He offers these suggestions for those considering buying an outdoor pizza oven.
For the maximalist
Ooni Karu 16 — $799
The larger the oven, the more control you’ll have over the temperature. The smaller ovens work best for blisteringly hot Neapolitan-style pies, but you’ll have more difficulty bringing the temperature down for New York-style and pan pizzas. For die-hard pizza fanatics, Adam suggests investing in the largest model that you can afford, as they give you the most versatility in cooking method. The Karu allows you to cook with wood, charcoal, or gas, and has enough floor space to create up to a 16-inch pie.
All accessories included
Gozney ROCCBOX — $499
Adam points out that once you buy an oven, you’ll need at least two pizza peels (one to launch the pizza and one to turn it), some pizza pans, and before you know it, you might end up as a regular at your local restaurant supply depot. In addition to needing a base for the oven, you’ll also need somewhere to stretch and top the dough, and soon, you might have to move, just to have a home with a complete outdoor kitchen.
If you’re starting from scratch, the ROCCBOX is a good all-in-one choice, as the oven has a built-in thermometer and also comes with a cover and two peels, extras that have to be purchased separately with the Ooni models.
For the casually pie-curious
Ooni Frya 12 — $349
The smaller pizza ovens are significantly easier to tote around, especially if you’ll be lugging the oven up to a shared rooftop every time you cook or back-and-forth between the weekend place and the city house.
If you just want to dip your toe into the pizza-making world, the Ooni Frya 12 is a good gateway oven. It’s affordable and weighs just 22 pounds.
For the aesthete
Gozny Dome — $1,799
For pure looks, the Gozny Dome is easily the most impressive. This is the most expensive pick in the portable oven category, and it’s really aimed at pizzaioli who plan to keep their oven in a permanent, private outdoor spot rather than casual, itinerant cooks. Weighing in at 128 pounds, the Dome is still a bargain compared to built-in outdoor pizza ovens or the $11,000+ cost of importing a Stefano Ferrara oven from Naples. Gozny makes a wheeled stand for the oven (an additional $299) that makes the oven slightly more movable, but what the Dome lacks in mobility, it makes up for in good looks.