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Jaronimo 12-24-2009 05:28 AM

Hello from New Jersey
hello everyone. I have been lurking for a while and thought I would say hello! I had to make two trips to Italy over the last year and a half for work, and came back KNOWING I needed a wood fired pizza oven in my yard. I grew up in NYC so I always thought I had a good idea of what good pizza was, until those two trips to Italy made me realize what great pizza was! How can I settle for average pizza now?

I have enjoyed reading the posts on this site and especially love the pictures. They are getting me very motivated to start building my pizza oven. I have to be a little patient though, because the ground is covered in snow and its also frozen. So I will continue to collect materials until everything thaws out and I can finally break ground.

There is also one other problem. The design. I had a simple pizza oven design veneered in old bricks with lots of arches in mind. Who does not like a brick arch? Then I started seeing some of the ovens built here and found some things I want to incorporate into my build. I love the brickwork, but then again I also love stone. And I have seen more than a few stuccoed ovens that are really great, and know they would look good in my yard too. I like the firebrick domes, but saw a few cast ovens and thought, I could do that. So now I have to decide if I will cast the dome or build it out of firebrick. I also plan on adding a fireplace next to the oven. but I have to incorporate a grill so I can cook food on it also. maybe something with a gear system and chain to raise and lower the grill above the fire. I also have been kicking around the idea of scratching the fireplace and going with a firepit. I can add a grill system to that and still use it for cooking. Plus I could add a great seating area around it.

I love grilling with charcoal on my Weber, and look forward to grilling with real wood for a change. The flavor is far better than grilling over gas in my opinion. I also have a few smokers at home. We love to smoke ribs, brisket, and pork butts. Basically I think I might be part caveman because cooking outside just tastes better! (insert caveman grunts here)

I am also conflicted as to how I will shield it from rain. Do I add a smaller covered roof for just the oven like I see in so many of the pictures from down under? Or do I add a large covered area to create a whole covered eating area also? PS: very surprised to see such a strong "down under" influence here, seems like they really know how to enjoy wood fired food!

The things I know for sure are that it will have arches made of brick or stone. It will have concrete countertops. It will be partially or fully covered from the elements. It will look cool!

Thanks to all of you for the inspiration.


dmun 12-24-2009 05:52 AM

Re: Hello from New Jersey
Welcome, Chris!

In wet climates, the Stucco dome, or igloo, style has waterproofing problems. If you're building it under a roof, as you mention, this is less of a problem.

The grill? I still like my Weber, and you can use the charcoal that you make by shoveling out coals from the oven and smothering them in a metal can to grill on the Weber. I think open grills are less useful, unless you're really into hot dogs and hamburgers. You can also grill in the oven, and make pita bread while the meat is cooking.

This is strictly my opinion, but if you like the look of brick, you are not going to be happy with the look of a cast concrete oven. Firebrick is cheap and plentiful in New Jersey.

The Australians? We love them but it's a seasonal thing. It's summer down there: We northern hemisphere types are huddling in the cold right now.

Jaronimo 12-24-2009 08:36 AM

Re: Hello from New Jersey
You are probably right, I don't see the Weber ever getting retired. Not too many hot dogs and hamburgers, we are big steak fans.

I like the idea of cooking inside the oven, but was worried about ruining the floor with drippings from the meat. is that a problem?

brokencookie 12-28-2009 10:34 AM

Re: Hello from New Jersey

Originally Posted by Jaronimo (Post 75202)

I like the idea of cooking inside the oven, but was worried about ruining the floor with drippings from the meat. is that a problem?

No problem. The oven is self cleaning. The self cleaning cycle on your inside oven runs about 600 degress. You will run your pizza oven over 700 degrees. Any spills will disappear. If not, just move the hot coals over it for a minute or 2.

nissanneill 12-28-2009 01:03 PM

Re: Hello from New Jersey
Hi Chris and welcome aboard,
It sounds like we have you well and truly hooked. As I've said on numerous occasions, the hardest part is deciding what you hope to end up with, within your budget or capabilities.
At the end of the day, it is having a strong workable oven that will do what you want, no matter what it looks like. Yes, appearances are important but performance is more important. You can always cover it all up in an enclosure if it doesn't turn out as expected.
Yes, we, down under also take theses seriously, BUT unlike what David says, "it's seasonal" no we have from Mediterranean to tropical weather down here with snow only seasonal and only in higher altitude locations. We get to enjoy and use our ovens all year without fear of ice or snow.
I look forward to following your build.


Jaronimo 12-29-2009 05:01 AM

Re: Hello from New Jersey
Good to hear that the oven is self-cleaning. I wish more things in my life were self-cleaning.

Jaronimo 12-29-2009 05:10 AM

Re: Hello from New Jersey
Neill, I am letting fate decide my ultimate oven design. And I am doing that by gathering the materials for free, or as close to free as I can. I think the outer design may end up being brick. Vintage, used bricks. I love the look of old bricks, but today I am going to a place that told me I can take as many bricks as I want. They said they are old, and clean. So when I get there, if they look good, I will be loading up the truck.

I have a friend that has a lot of stone, he said I could take what I want. So depending on what the bricks look like, and depending on what the stone looks like, I will have my outer materials.

I have gathered a lot of rebar and concrete blocks. It looks like my costs will be cement, insulation materials, and firebrick. So far my gathering of materials is working out well. because I cannot start building yet. Its 15 degrees here today and very windy. That's a little too cold here today. Oh yeah, thats 15 degrees fahrenheit.

nissanneill 12-29-2009 01:08 PM

Re: Hello from New Jersey
When you get to the bricks, take a sledge hammer and give a few a single hard hit before you load them. If the brick crumbles into many small bits, then leave them there or use them only for paving. If however, they break into a couple of larger pieces, then they will be fine to use. The ones that were closest to the heat when fired are the best, the others further way are not suitable and will break up, and fail in your oven.
Don't try to get 'cheap', unsuitable or free insulation unless it is the 'right stuff' or you have a good 'contact' in the game. You won't regret spending the money on the best stuff and your oven will give you the performance that you want for it.


Jaronimo 12-29-2009 03:50 PM

Re: Hello from New Jersey
I was planning on buying new firebricks and new insulation.

The old bricks are just for the outside, to give it that old look.

ThisOldGarageNJ 12-29-2009 05:16 PM

Re: Hello from New Jersey
Hi Jaronimo...
welcome to the club,, Im in Bergne county in NJ,, not sure how far apart we are.. Im exit 165 on the parkway.. If I can be of any help or you want to see my oven, let me know..


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