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james 04-06-2005 02:08 AM

The Naples Style Oven
 
I feel like I spent three days with my head stuck inside an oven. :-)

The Naples pizza oven is a very particular style. As I keep saying, it is designed for 60 second pizza and 12 hours per day at 900F. They are built to last for 15 years of serious use. The shape of the dome arch low, and aggressive. The first course is a full high brick on its end, then the dome curves sharply in, almost flat'ish.

There are only three sizes certified for restaurant use: 110cm (43") 120cm (47") and 130cm (51") -- which historically was based the number of hand spans across the cooking floor. Anything bigger than that, and they can't keep it hot enough. You can make a lot of pizza in a 130cm oven if they are coming out in 60 seconds, but still, many restaurants have two ovens. As an aside, our refractory commercial ovens go up to 6' (72").

There are also two oven restaurants that keep the temperature of the second lower for roasting, grilling, etc.

The rule is that the dome height is 1/3 the floor diameter, so they are really low.

I was lucky enough to see a series of photos of the construction process, which I had to promise not to share. The low dome requires forms -- the one I saw used wood forms.

As another aside, our Casa refractory ovens are patterned after the Naples design, and are called Volta Bassa (low dome) in Italy.

What does this mean to us normal oven users? Personally, I wouldn't try to build one. It looks tough. I think the Pompeii Oven plans, which are patterned after the higher Tuscan style of oven, is easier to build. For a vast majority of us, the cooking difference between the two styles is too subtle to matter.

Still, it's fun seeing how different regions of the country view their ovens.

James


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