The Kitchen and Bath Industry Show in Las Vegas features the latest appliances, but most are not fully set up to run in the convention center. But this year Kalamazoo, maker of high-end outdoor cooking products, fired up its new Artisan Fire Pizza Oven and, knowing that I had grown up making pizza in my family's restaurants and built my own wood-fired ovens, invited me to give it a try.
A countertop version of the Artisan Fire Pizza Oven has been on the market for a few years but now Kalamazoo has a fully built-in version that can be set in an outdoor wall of masonry or stone just like a wood-fired oven would be. Powered by propane or natural gas, the Artisan Fire Pizza Oven heats up to 800 degrees, the ideal temperature for cooking true Naples Style pizza. You can also use it to cook roasted chicken, meat, vegetables, and cedar plank salmon, although you'll want to adjust the temperature.
The oven has a flame in the back that creates the convection needed to cook the pizza and is lined with stone for optimal baking performance. The pizzas I cooked at the show took less than three minutes each, just like my wood-fired oven at home. And they tasted just as good. The oven has the added benefit of a quick 20 minute preheat without dealing with wood, fire, and smoke. Although for some, that is part of the true Naples style pizza experience.
I wish I could say that Consumer Reports will be bringing the Artisan Fire Pizza Oven into our labs for testing, but at $8,295 plus installation this is more of an aspirational product. The freestanding version is $6,795. For a lot less, you can try the BakerStone Pizza Oven Box, $150, which you place on top of the grill you already own. We tested it last summer and the pizzas were a crowd pleaser. Add in the top-rated midsized grill from our tests, the Weber Spirit SP-320 46700401, $600, and you're still ahead of the game.
—Michael DiLauro (@midilauro on Twitter)