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Is a 51" (FB 130) TOO big? - Forno Bravo Forum: The Wood-Fired Oven Community



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Is a 51" (FB 130) TOO big?

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  • Is a 51" (FB 130) TOO big?

    We're looking for an oven that can handle a pizza (at the most two 12") and, at the same time, roast a chicken (or two).

    I imagine (from what I've read on this forum) that the 51" is difficult to manage and also is expensive to keep hot.

    So, for a medium-sized restaurant (about 50 seats), would a FB 110 (43") be a better choice?


  • #2
    Re: Is a 51" (FB 130) TOO big?

    If I am reading this right the bigger question is are you going to roast your chicken at pizza temps or cook your pizza at roasting temps? Size would be a secondary concern if you plan to cook both in the same oven at the same time.


    • #3
      Re: Is a 51" (FB 130) TOO big?

      i would always advocate a bigger oven - but with lots of practical experience under my belt now - I think it would be tough to cook more than 5 pizzas max at one time at 800-900 degrees. It's not a space issue - it's a handling/time issue. You don't have enough time to turn them all before you burn a few.


      • #4
        Re: Is a 51" (FB 130) TOO big?

        In a restaurant situation, the oven never really cools down, so you don't have the degree of fuel consumption that would deter a home user from a big oven. You may also have multiple people prepping pizzas, and a dedicated oven handler, so you could put the larger oven to use.

        You can roast chicken pieces at pizza temperatures, like in a barbeque, but roasting whole chickens won't fly: They'll be charred on the outside long before they are cooked on the inside.
        My geodesic oven project: part 1, part 2


        • #5
          Re: Is a 51" (FB 130) TOO big?

          Welcome aboard, Steve!

          My favorite pizzaria has about 50 seats and has an oven in that size range. They do up to three or four pizzas at a time - but slightly smaller (more like 10 inches). They do cook in it but not chicken - just mushrooms and fast cooking stuff. That is also in the size range they use at Pizzria Bianco in Phoenix - also with about 50 seats. IF your focus is on other than pizza you can probably get by with a 42 to 45 inch oven but if pizza is your main focus the larger oven makes sense. As dmun points out, the heat issues for a commercial oven that is kept hot are quite different from an occasionally used home oven.

          I keep striving to find things that give good results in a pizza temp oven and it't not trivial. You need things that cook really fast because at 800 the outside will burn before the item is cooked if it is very thick or needs much cooking.

          Welcome aboard!
          Last edited by texassourdough; 10-01-2009, 06:51 AM. Reason: Correct the commercial focus.


          • #6
            Re: Is a 51" (FB 130) TOO big?

            Have you considered 2 smaller ovens ?

            one for pizza ?
            one for baking ?


            • #7
              Re: Is a 51" (FB 130) TOO big?

              Thanks for the replies. Maybe I should have started with:
              "Does this even make sense?"
              instead of: is 51" TOO BIG?

              It does seem, then, that roasting a whole chicken while making pizza might not be the easiest thing in the world, especially while I'm still getting used to using the oven.

              We have considered two ovens and it's not completely out of the question. Two considerations are of course, cost and space. Still, if it's the best solution, we'll see if it's possible.

              Ok, it does seem (thanks, Jay) that even the bigger oven wouldn't be too expensive to keep hot enough. So, a larger oven might make sense; we'll just have to measure carefully to see how it would fit in.



              • #8
                Re: Is a 51" (FB 130) TOO big?

                Hi Steven!

                Since you are not far from AZ, I would suggest contacting Chris Bianco. He helped our local guy get going and has a strong history of helping newcomers to fine pizza. He is also more aggressive about cooking in his oven from my limited experience (1 trip). Seeing his setup and eating there would be a good idea. It should help a lot.

                RE: size, I don't think this is particularly magic. You could probably get by in a 45 " oven with no problem. It will be, in part, an issue of what you learn on. The size will set your habits and patterns and a 45 should be able to do three pizzas with no problems (and more). If you keep your pizzas thin and sparse you can make pizzas pretty fast in a setup like that.

                Given you will be commercial I would go with the bigger oven IF I had room but I wouldn't sweat too much if it were 45. Smaller probably gets too small but there are folk on here who operate mobile ovens that are smaller and turn out a lot of pizzas. Hopefully some of them will offer an opinion!

                Good Luck!


                • #9
                  Re: Is a 51" (FB 130) TOO big?

                  Hi, Jay-

                  I used to go to Phoenix a lot to visit my father and missed Pizzeria Bianco. We did go to Grimaldi's in Scottsdale and had great coal-fired pizza. I thought that his crust could be my standard to try for.

                  Good suggestion to talk to Chris Bianco. So far, I've found that talking to pizzeria and restaurant guys in San Francisco has helped a lot. They seem to be open to talking about what they do. Our restaurant, though, won't be here in S.F. and we won't be any competition. I don't think that they'd care, anyway. They're doing well and aren't threatened.

                  We haven't been back to Phoenix in awhile so maybe it is time to go and get some good pizza (and stone crabs). If our restaurant does go through, though, I don't think that we'll have time to go anyplace for the next few months.



                  • #10
                    Re: Is a 51" (FB 130) TOO big?

                    I have not been to Grimalidi's but it is my impression they do a thicker New York style crust. To do a thicker crust in a WFO will generally require lower temp and longer cooking times (but it does favor ability to cook in the oven simultaneously.)

                    Most good pizza places are pretty cooperative. Bianco is often called the best pizzaria in the world. (I don't agree but he is really good!)


                    • #11
                      Re: Is a 51" (FB 130) TOO big?

                      I would vote that you go with the larger oven. In a commercial setting there is nothing worse than not having the space you need to keep up with orders during a rush. Having a slightly larger oven will not increase you wood costs by an appreciable amount and management won't be different. By restaurant standards, a 130cm/51" oven is still considered on the small side.

                      My thinking is that the larger oven gives you the ability to cook more items at the same when you have to, but that doesn't mean that you have to do it all the time. As Jay says, juggling multiple pizzas can be difficult -- but you only want to do that during busy periods.

                      One other thought is that having a little extra space makes it easier for you to move pizzas and pans around inside the oven, without having to worry about the fire, ash and the other pizzas and pans

                      My two cents. :-)

                      Pizza Ovens
                      Outdoor Fireplaces


                      • #12
                        We got the restaurant!

                        Just heard back. The owner of the previous restaurant accepted our offer to buy him out.

                        Now the hard part begins, transforming it into a Pub with a wood burning stove. Hope to meet with the Health Dept. and a contractor on Monday.

                        So--- it's a go for the oven. You guys have been a big help since I asked my question yesterday about which oven to get.

                        James- I think that you're right. The 51" should be it. We just have to take some true measurements and talk to the Health Dept. inspector about where we can place it. It'll be crowded if it goes into the kitchen, which is where the Fire Dept. and Building Dept. inspectors thought would be the best. (I don't think that they realize how BIG this is.)

                        I talked to a mason about building a facade. He built one for another restaurant in the area (but far enough away that we're not going to have to compete).

                        Next is the plans for the support.


                        • #13
                          Re: Is a 51" (FB 130) TOO big?

                          Good luck!

                          Let us know how things go! And what you install!


                          • #14
                            Re: Is a 51" (FB 130) TOO big?

                            Thanks, Jay! I will definitely keep you guys informed, probably with more details than you'd ever want. But this is exciting!