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should I go wood? - Forno Bravo Forum: The Wood-Fired Oven Community



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should I go wood?

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  • should I go wood?

    Your site is amazing. It has really inspired meI am very serious about opening a small Lombardi's style pizzeria in my gentrified town (lots of pizza, all suck) I want to do more of a NY type place versus a European/Neapolitan place. Amano, for example is too European and I think that type of place would be over the heads of the residents of my town. A really good Lombardi's type place with atmosphere that does only good pizza, a good antipasti, a few salads, and cannolis will do well. I need help though. I, like you am a pizza purest. I worked at the premeir pizzeria in Ramsey, NJ all through HS and college as a pizzailolo and chef. We had typical Bari gas ovens and made our dough with no sponge or starter just a day in advance using the cold rise method. After having some of the pizzas in Napoli and in NYC, I realized how bad our pizza was. I have been teaching middle school for the past five years now and more than anything want to run a small pizzeria of my own. I am fully aware of the committment and just have a few questions...I want to emulate Lombardis and Patsy's. I know that they both use coal. I am leaning towards using a wood oven from fornobravo, but have considered the modena series that uses gas w/an open flame that is supose to simulate a wood fire. My establishment is going to be 900 square feet. I am planning on doing about 50-75 18'' pizzas a day. We will be open from 11-till we run out of dough. I want to do two sizes, a 10'' (for lunch only) and a 16-18''. I plan on having two helers who will alternate days so there will always be two guys in the kitchen, one pizzaiolo and another who preps in the kitchen. Do you by chance know how much wood I will go through in a week? During lag hours (3-6) can you let your oven cool off a little? I know it depends on the size of the oven, but could you give me a ball park figure? How big of an oven should I get? DO you think the cost of running the wood oven will be comperable with running a gas oven? Could you simulate a Lombardi's pie using a good flame gas oven? I know these are a lot of questions, but any advice you could give would be much appreciated.

  • #2
    Re: should I go wood?

    I can only give you a bit of a ballpark for me. When I do a pizza fire-up for several hours (about 5) I have used about 10 fairly large pieces of wood. A lot of times I get by on six. I would think if you are going to fire the oven daily you would wants lots of insulation, but that would take longer to heat it up everyday. Good luck with your plans....I dream about that very thing but have settled for an oven in the back yard.


    • #3
      Re: should I go wood?

      HI Zeneise,
      It looks like you are planning on something like Russell jeavon's Pizza restaurant. Check out the posting I put up at:


      He cooks over 100 pizzas a night using wood as the fuel and has written a very popular book on how to build your own wood fired pizza oven.

      If you like, I could find the answers to your questions if you don't find them in this posting.

      Good luck.

      Prevention is better than cure, - do it right the first time!

      The more I learn, the more I realise how little I know

      Neillís Pompeiii #1
      Neillís kitchen underway


      • #4
        Re: should I go wood?

        Coal ovens these days seem to be made with gas or infrared burners to balance the heat. If you are in the Ramsey area you can check it out at a place called Agnello's in New City NY. They are also kind of dangerous and you have to burn hard coal which can be pretty expensive. You'll make a great pizza with a gas/wood combination manufactured by Forno Bravo. Here is a link to a wood consumption document, it reflects usage for a wood burner only.

        "Making the simple complicated is commonplace; making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that's creativity. " Charles Mingus
        "Build at least two brick ovens...one to make all the mistakes on and the other to be just like you dreamed of!" Dutch


        • #5
          Re: should I go wood?

          There is a large oven at the beach I go to and when asked about the oven the person said the fire never really goes out. The place is open every day from 4 until close at 11 pm. When they get in to prep at noon the oven is still at a little below 400 degrees. When asked how long it would to really cool down, the response was the oven was installed over 5 years ago and it has never cooled down since!

          Its a pretty big oven (maybe 75 inches but is insulated heavily and was not using more than a 5 good sized logs an hour.


          • #6
            Re: should I go wood?

            if you never did . i advise you not to. you will find that is very hard to maintain good consistency with wood ovens . the best pizza now in europe are made with electric ovens. also, take in considerations , you have to turn the pizzas , you have to have a very dry good wood, one wrong supplier and it is over , it is also very dirty, more on the insurance premium .
            very labor intensive.
            unless you want to spend thousands on an oven for technology you do not need.
            the only thing good about the wood today is the illusion that you made some ancient artisan pizza. it is very psychological for people who do not know , not for the pizzaiole who know what happens behind the curtain .
            in one word , a lot of wood oven here in the usa , they all suck bad, inconsistency in the baking of the crust, including the famous listed in book places here in the usa . went there and tried and i can tell it is joke and rather a insult to the real gourmet pizza maker .
            your flour is also very important .


            • #7
              Re: should I go wood?

              Originally posted by angel40204 View Post
              wood oven here in the usa , they all suck bad

              Those are fighting words...not that we flame much here...

              I tend to agree that most pizza in the USA is crap, but the one good place we have near me is wood fired. And of course, the wood fired pizza at my house is most excellent.

              South of France huh? I will be in St. Remy for 2 weeks in October...any reccomendations?

              My Oven Thread:


              • #8
                Re: should I go wood?

                Being consistant with a product wether it be wood fired or electric or gas is up to the operator. If you have someone running the oven that is there only for a paycheck then you will have poor product. If I were you I would run the oven myself or make sure a dedicated person does. Dedication to quality is the key to success regardless of fuel source.
                I gave the recipe for a BBQ sauce to a friend that owns a restaurant here locally. When he makes the sauce its great but when an employee makes the sauce its bad. Any idea what made the difference?

                Oh yeah and the trick on the wood is to have somewhere to store lots of it so it has time to dry if not already dried properly.

                But to answer your question: If you have the resources go wood.
                Do not meddle in the affairs of dragons, for you are crunchy and taste
                like chicken...

                My 44" oven in progress...


                • #9
                  Re: should I go wood?

                  I recently finished my oven in the backyard and of course it is WFO and am really loving it. One note of interest for you though, the big chain restaurant, Macaroni Grill here in the midwest(and it may be all over the USA) all have those brick ovens, but only a few left that are wood fired. Most of them are gas fired. The one in our Memphis neighborhood is wood fired and the owner told me that he sincerely wished he had gas for one main reason and that was the convenience. They too never let the wood fire go out and it is apparently more work to keep a supply of wood, feed the fire, and regulate the temp than they want. But I can tell you they do make good pizzas. They do not use Caputo flour though. And after cooking a few pizzas on my new oven with Caputo, believe me there is one heck of difference in the taste. It makes great pizzas. Not sure whether they are using bread flour or have a special one they buy.
                  Anyway, just wanted to pass on those thoughts about Macaroni Grill.
                  Jim Bob


                  • #10
                    Re: should I go wood?

                    My opinion is that no matter what the cost difference is or the hassle of using wood that wood-fired pizza is absolutely the best and you can't compare taste to gas-fired. If you want the best tasting pizza wood-fired is the way to go.

                    Marge Padgitt
                    Kansas City, MO
                    Marge Padgitt, CCS, NFI
                    HearthMasters, Inc.
                    DBA Padgitt Chimney & Fireplace
                    Kansas City, MO


                    • #11
                      Re: should I go wood?

                      I agree with you 100%. We have a restaurant chain in Memphis called Amerigos that has the wood fired ovens and they do a sensational job with the cedar plank fish and pizzas.
                      My wood fired oven in the backyard, I wouldn't trade it for nothing. I love it. Had 17 people over Sat nite and cooked 16 pizzas in about an 1.5 hrs. We were cranking them out. They were delicious. I was hoping for some leftovers next day, but they ate everything in sight. It does help to have the Caputo flour and the best ingredients. Finding good pepperoni is critical. Some of that cheap presliced stuff in Krogers is absolutely tasteless.
                      Hope all is well in KC. I was born there 69 yrs ago. Great town.
                      Jim Bob


                      • #12
                        Re: should I go wood?

                        Originally posted by Jim Bob View Post
                        Finding good pepperoni is critical. Some of that cheap presliced stuff in Krogers is absolutely tasteless.
                        Hi Jim,

                        Speaking of pepperoni and Kroger... I've been buying Boar's Head pepperoni from the Kroger deli. I have them slice it really thin. I think it's far better than any of the prepackaged stuff.

                        What are you using and where do you get it?
                        Ken H. - Kentucky
                        42" Pompeii

                        Pompeii Oven Construction Video Updated!

                        Oven Thread ... Enclosure Thread
                        Cost Spreadsheet ... Picasa Web Album


                        • #13
                          Re: should I go wood?

                          peperoni pizza is really the bottom of gourmet pizza.
                          it is like big mac at mc donald .
                          be creative and educate your palate . who ever invented peperoni in this country did not do any service .
                          too much crap and idiotic dishes . time to evolve and change for better .


                          • #14
                            Re: should I go wood?

                            Wow, angel. You are full of nice things to say.

                            While I'm tempted to describe the dozens of different types of pizza, casseroles and dishes my family has cooked in our WFO, I suspect none of them will meet with your approval so I won't bother.

                            A quick review of your 6 posts here on Forno Bravo is enlightening. You have not made ONE positive post. Every comment you have made is negative or just plain insulting.

                            This IS a wood fired oven forum. Are you here to learn about Wood Fired Ovens or to simply push your sophisticated continental opinions on folks that aren't interested?

                            (Sorry for the rant, ladies and gents. A guy can take only so much)
                            Ken H. - Kentucky
                            42" Pompeii

                            Pompeii Oven Construction Video Updated!

                            Oven Thread ... Enclosure Thread
                            Cost Spreadsheet ... Picasa Web Album


                            • #15
                              Re: should I go wood?

                              I agree with you Ken. Why would anyone visit this site only to insult the people who are so passionate about their ovens. My family and neighbors absolutely love the WFO and after about a month of cooking, I am still passionate about cooking in it. All of the food cooked in it is delicious and the the pizzas are better than anything I can buy or cook in my electric oven (even my unsophisticated pallet can taste the difference).
                              My WFO project: http://picasaweb.google.com/stevprin/WFOSmallPhotos#