If I could, I would eat pizza every day. It's probably the world's most perfect food, a deceptively simple combination of dough, sauce and cheese working in epicurean harmony. But aside from my expanding waistline, there's another big barrier to making great pizzas at home: my oven. It simply can't get as hot as the wood- or coal-fired ovens you'll find in restaurants and pizza shops, so it's a lot harder to get the nice, charred, bubbly crusts of the best Neapolitan-style pies.
The Breville Smart Oven Pizzaiolo pizza oven is the pricey answer to my at-home pizza-making dilemma. The Pizzaiolo can heat up to 750 degrees, so it can bake a ‘za in as little as 90 seconds. At $1,000, though, this oven will burn a hole in your wallet, too.
Breville Smart Oven Pizzaiolo pizza oven price and availability
The Breville Pizzaiolo pizza oven is available exclusively through Williams Sonoma for $1,000.
Breville Smart Oven Pizzaiolo pizza oven design
The stainless-steel-clad Pizzaiolo pizza oven has a modern aesthetic that will fit in with the other appliances in your kitchen. That is, if you have the spare counter space for the Pizzaiolo. Measuring 18.5 x 18.3 x 10.8 inches, it's about the size of a typical microwave or a large toaster oven. Unless you have a kitchen as large as Ina Garten's, you're not going to leave this 37-pound contraption out on the counter.
The front of the Pizzaiolo is a spring-loaded door that snaps shut with conviction. The center of the door has a glass window that lets you peer in to see how your pizza is cooking. But it's a little dark inside the oven, so I often found myself opening the door a crack to see just how charred the crust was.
Inside the oven are two electric heating elements: one on the roof of the oven, and one directly underneath the pizza stone. The stone is removable, so you can clean it easily.
Three knobs on the door control the oven. In automatic mode, the leftmost dial functions as a timer, while the middle dial has presets for several types of pizza: 350 degrees (Fahrenheit), Frozen (ugh), Pan, New York, Thin & Crispy, Wood-Fired and 750 degrees. The rightmost knob lets you fine-tune each setting if you prefer a lighter or darker crust.
In manual mode, the two large dials let you control the temperature of the two heating elements. In this mode, you have to slap a small magnetic label with temperature markings atop the dials.
The Pizzaiolo comes with a metal pizza peel, as well as a metal pan for making pan pizzas.
Breville Smart Oven Pizzaiolo pizza oven performance
To the delight of my co-workers, I made about two dozen pizzas in the Breville Pizzaiolo, using both store-bought and homemade pizza dough. (For the latter, I followed Marc Vetri's Naples Dough Recipe at 70% Hydration from his book "Mastering Pizza". I made pizzas with fresh mozzarella, pizzas with pre-shredded mozzarella and pepperoni pizzas. All of them came out great, with nicely charred crusts and bubbling cheese. On average, it was able to bake a pizza in about two minutes when set to either Wood-Fired or 750 degrees.
One thing to note: Benny Tudino's this isn't. The size of the Pizzaiolo means you're limited to making 12-inch pies, so if you're cooking for a crowd, you're going to be slinging dough for a while.
As with any oven, the Pizzaiolo needed a few minutes to heat up — 10 to 20 minutes, depending on how hot you set it. And, as with any pizza stone, the one in the Pizzaiolo needed a few minutes between pies to come back to temperature; if I rushed it, I wouldn't get the nice charring on the underside of the pizza.
While not cool to the touch, the oven's exterior wasn't so hot that I was afraid of burning my hand if I accidentally touched it. Still, you'll want to use this oven in a well-ventilated space. Enough smoke poured out of the oven when I opened the door that I was afraid I'd set off the fire alarms in the office. After I pulled a pizza out of the oven, any flour that remained inside would spontaneously combust, which was both alarming and awesome to watch. (It would burn off within a few seconds.)
There's no doubt that the Breville Pizzaiolo Smart Oven makes great pies, but you have to really, really love pizza and have the dough to drop $1,000 on this device. Not including the cost of ingredients, you could order 59 pizzas from Razza — possibly the best pizza in the New York area — for the price of one of Breville's ovens. But if you'd rather stay in, and you have the counter space, this is a fantastic pizza oven.