April 2009
No. 6; Artigiano Oven


Wood-Fired News:
The Artigiano Brick Pizza Oven

I think of this as our "back to the basics" edition of the Wood-Fired Newsletter. In this issue we will be talking about the Forno Bravo Artigiano, a real brick pizza oven, along with some good theory on how pizza ovens and other wood-fired ovens work.

In many ways the Artigiano oven is the inspiration for Forno Bravo. Many years ago we were traveling around eastern Tuscany with our two daughters, and, as I am prone to do, I pulled off at a good-looking building supply store to look at the ovens and fireplaces. The kids rolled their eyes and stayed in the air-conditioned car, but I persevered. As my reward, I saw the Artigiano oven for the first time -- sitting next to a more modern pre-cast oven. I found the store owner, and he explained to me that oven really was made from bricks, that is was hand made in Tuscany, and that, yes, it was pretty expensive. But he loved it and he sold quite a few of them. We left, and a few years went by.

When we moved to Tuscany to live, our local building supply company also carried the Artigiano oven. They were a bigger company and they had quite a few in stock. The manager loved the Artigiano oven, and he gave me the name of the producer, and I contacted him. The company owner came to our house the first time, and then I visited his workshop. Another period of time passed before we formally started Forno Bravo, but the seeds had been sown.

Today, the Artigiano oven is very popular in the U.S., and we have one at our house. Interestingly, the U.S. is the only place you can buy the Artigiano outside of Tuscany. The craftsmanship of the oven is beautiful, and each one is unique. The bricks are cut and laid by hand, and each angle and rough edge is ground and polished. If you are looking for a special pizza oven, then the Artigiano is for you.

Because the Artigiano oven is a true brick oven, we are building on that theme with an article on the theory behind wood fired cooking. And finally, we highlight a couple of nifty gadgets that make it fun owning a brick oven.

I hope you enjoy our slightly late April 2009 newsletter,

How Heat Works

pizza stoneOne of the best design aspects of the Artigiano oven is the way it balances the competing needs of fast heat up time, high heat capacity and heat retention. If a brick oven is too thick, it can take hours to heat up before you can use it, and if it is too thin, or made from simple natural clays, it cannot hold the high heat you need for making Pizza Napoletana and it will not retain enough heat for baking and roasting. The Artigiano oven only takes a few minutes longer to heat up than the Forno Bravo modular ovens, and its heat holding capacity is great.

If you are a regular reader of the Forno Bravo Forum, you will know that we frequently talk about "thermal mass", insulation and how wood-fired ovens work. Even more importantly, our community often convinces a prospective brick oven owner to take a little extra time to learn about thermal mass before deciding what type of oven to install. I am happy to say that we have helped many people make a better, more informed decision.

Remember that too much thermal mass is a really bad thing. It takes a long time (hour and hours) to heat up, and a high mass oven will not work properly the whole time it is being fired. One more thing to remember. While too much thermal mass is bad, you can never have too much insulation. We wish it were more simple, but if you are thinking about installing a wood-fired oven at your house, take a minute and read more.

Do you want to learn more? Click on the How Heat Works Graphic above and read the Forno Bravo Thermal Mass Primer. You can learn about thermal mass, insulation, refractory materials, density and a lot more.

Temperature Control and Thermometers

pizza peelWhile we are on the topic of temperature, we wanted to introduce a nifty new gadget we recently added to the Forno Bravo Store. The Thermapen is an instant read food thermometer that works great for bread, roast meats and a host of other cooking requirements. Don't forget that you should test the internal temperature of your bread to make sure it has reached 205ºF. Using a food temperature gauge is a lot more accurate than the "thumping the bottom to see if it's done" method, and it will help you make much better bread.

Rated #1 by Cook's Illustrated (my favorite cooking magazine), the Thermapen displays internal food or liquid temperatures in only 3 or 4 seconds. -- which is a lot faster than the thermometer I used before. Plus, with a small needle tip diameter and the requirement for only about 1/8 inch immersion, you'll only leave a tiny hole in your steak or bread.

pizza peelIf you are looking for the right tool to test the temperature of your wood-fired oven at different spots in the dome and cooking floor, you need a point-and-shoot infrared thermometer. Fast, accurate and safe, an infrared thermometer let's you check on your oven without putting you hand inside the oven door and counting Mississippi's. The Forno Bravo infrared thermometer goes to 932ºF, so that you can accurately tell if your oven is ready for pizza, bread, roasts and any other type of food. One warning. An infrared thermometer is a lot of fun, and it will bring out your party guests' inner child. Just make sure they don't point it at anyone.

You can purchase both Forno Bravo thermometers, and lots of other interesting pizza making gadgets, through the Forno Bravo Store.


In This Issue

The Artigiano Oven

Temperature Control and Thermometers

How Heat Works

The Artigiano Oven

Artigiano pizza oven

The Artigiano oven comes in three sizes -- 31", 39" and a 39" x 48" oval, to meet any backyard or residential wood-fired cooking need.

Each oven comes with a one-piece monolithic oven dome (with four metal handles), the cooking floor, door, three-piece tool set and insulating blanket. Installation is simple -- you simply set the oven dome around the round cooking floor.

Although the Artigiano oven is made using real bricks, it still offers excellent thermal performance. This isn't your Grandfather's brick oven. Its heat up time is only slightly longer than the Forno Bravo Casa or Premio, and its heat holding capacity is excellent. It also excels at holding high heat, allowing you to baking authentic Italian pizza all day and all night -- just keep a fire burning and the Artigiano oven will never cool down.

Plus, there's nothing else quite like a real brick oven. The Artigiano oven is a work of art that looks as good as it cooks!

You can read more about the Artigiano oven, and see drawings and dimensions, on www.fornobravo.com.

You can also download the Artigiano Installation and Operation Manual.

Finally, you can check pricing and order your own Artigiano oven from the Forno Bravo Store.

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If you have a question or recommendation about the Wood-Fired Newsletter, or anything else where we can help, please do not hesitate to give us a call. Also, while you already know how fun wood-fired cooking can be, not everyone has experienced that great pleasure. We'll get there one person at a time, so please take a moment and Forward this Newsletter to a Friend.

The Sales and Service Team
Forno Bravo, LLC
399 Business Park Court, #506
Windsor, CA 93953
(800) 407-5119


For the next 30 days, order a Forno Bravo Artigiano oven, and we will include both the super-fast Thermapen instant read thermometer and the Forno Bravo infrared thermometer, at no extra charge. It's time to make some great bread and pizza, and knowing the temperature really helps!

Enter Coupon Code: newsletter0409fb. Offer expires May 31, 2009.