Lately I've been thinking quite a bit about pizza ovens and innovation. Thanks to advances in technology and new materials, we at Forno Bravo are always developing fun and interesting oven designs – and making wood-fired ovens available to an ever-growing audience.
On that note, we are introducing the Napolino Series, a Napoli-style oven for backyard cooking that combines traditional design with cutting-edge materials. The Napolino features a center vent and beautifully tiled enclosure, and is sized for home pizza-making, baking and roasting. Read more below.
This month's newsletter also includes a guest column from Pizza Quest – John Arena on a question many of us have asked: "Are you ready to go pro?" And our recipe from the Community Cookbook is for stuffed peppers, a tasty vegetarian side dish that's festive enough for your upcoming holiday menus.
Finally, you'll find information and a registration link for Forno Bravo Expo 2012, set for October 27, to the right. We are looking forward to this casual gathering of wood-fired cooking fans and hope you'll join us.
Till next time,
Introducing the Napolino Series
A Pizza Napoletana Oven for Your Backyard
We have been hard at work on a new family of Naples-style pizza ovens designed for backyard baking: the Napolino Series. As you can see, this is a great-looking oven for any backyard. The name Napolino – an affectionate, diminutive version of Napoli – really says it all. (But we'll tell you some more!)
The beautiful, innovative Napolino comes in two sizes: the Napolino60 (24"x31" cooking surface, room for one pizza) and the larger Napolino70 (28"x35" surface, room for two pizzas). Features and details:
- Traditional center vent and the kind of beautifully tiled enclosure found in pizzerias in Naples (and around the world)
- Built using high-tech refractories and space-age insulators, ensuring optimal high-temperature performance for perfect Pizza Napoletana and excellent heat retention for baking and roasting
- Traditional Naples-style ventilation system: hot air exhausted from the oven is routed back over the oven dome and then vented through a vertical, stainless steel chimney pipe in the center of the oven – evenly and efficiently heats the oven dome and maintains high temperatures
- Fast heat-up, as quick as 20 minutes
- Excellent heat-holding capabilities – outer shell stays cool, while the oven chamber easily maintains the 750°F and higher temperatures necessary to bake authentic Italian pizza in two minutes
- Both sizes available with or without a metal stand
- Available as standard with red and black tile pattern; custom colors and designs available (extra cost)
- Includes steel door with thermometer
Are You Ready to Turn Pro?
Peter Reinhart, our Pizza Quest host, baking instructor and baker extraordinaire, shares a new guest column written by John Arena. A third-generation pizza maker, John began making pizza professionally in his family's New York pizzeria in 1967.
Are You Ready to Turn Pro?
by John Arena
OK, you've been making pizzas at home now for years. You invested in a great oven. You source the best ingredients. You stay up all night arguing on the Internet about water sources and fermentation times. You obsess over every detail. Everyone tells you that your pizza is better than what they can get in any pizzeria. Well … even if no one else says it, you know that you make the greatest pizza in the world. Certainly you can do better than those hacks at your neighborhood pizzeria (how have those guys stayed in business for so long?). Admit it, you want to turn your pizza avocation into a vocation. You want to own a pizzeria. The question is, how do you know when you are truly ready?
I speak to ambitious amateur pizza makers all the time. Many of them have amazing passion and talent. Those qualities are an important start, but there's more to it if you want to succeed. Allow me to explain: I'm sure you can all remember the incredible satisfaction you received from baking your first pizza, cutting it, and sitting down to enjoy it with your friends and family. I envy you. My experience is quite different.
Forty-five years ago, on September 8, 1967, to be exact, I made my first pizza. My Uncle Rocco took it out of the oven, cut it, boxed it, and collected $2.25 from a waiting customer. Out the door went my pizza – a small step for the customer, but a giant leap for me. At that moment, I fell in love with the pizza business. I fell in love with the idea that someone would spend money to buy and consume something that I had made with my own two hands.
Growing up in a small family pizzeria, I also understood that this was hard work, with small profit. I learned from childhood that making a great pizza was only part of it. If you want to stay in business, then you have to be able to make pizzas that people are willing to buy at a price that covers your expenses and makes you a little bit more. Most importantly, you have to remember that you are selling an experience. The perceived value of that experience is what will allow you to charge enough to make a profit. No matter how high or low your price points, the customer must always feel that the experience was worth more than they paid for it.
That's the key. How your customers feel after they pay the bill will determine whether or not they come back. That is the pizza business. It doesn't matter if you trained with Raffaelo Esposito's great-grandson or that you hand-feed hazelnuts to the pigs that become your sausage. In the end, you will have to be able to sell enough of your great pizzas at a profit year after year to keep yourself in business.
Note: In Part 2, we will explore the skills you will need to make pizzas at a professional level and how you can prepare yourself for the transition from dedicated amateur to successful pro.
Recipe: Stuffed Peppers With Feta, Pecans and Cherry Tomatoes
We hope you enjoy this month's featured recipe from the Forno Bravo Community Cookbook, written by our chef moderator Dan Compton. Want to add your own recipe? Take a few moments to create a free Community Cookbook account!
I used round of Hungary peppers here, which look sort of like small, squat, deeply ridged red bell peppers. They have a deep, sweet flavor, like red bell pepper concentrated. If you can't find them, substitute pimento peppers or small red bell peppers – but you will probably need more stuffing to fill them.
- 7 round of Hungary peppers, or small red bell peppers
- 1/2 C pecans
- 6 oz feta cheese, preferably goats' milk
- 1 C quartered cherry tomatoes
- 1 T fresh chopped parsley
- 1 T olive oil
- salt and black pepper to taste
Cut the tops off the peppers as if you're carving a pumpkin. Use your fingers or a spoon to remove the seeds and ribs from inside the peppers.
While you are cleaning the peppers, place your pecans in a dry skillet and toast in your wood oven, tossing occasionally, until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Remove and allow to cool. Break the feta into small chunks and place in a bowl. Add the cherry tomatoes, parsley and olive oil. Roughly chop the pecans and add to the mixture. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir well.
Stuff the mixture into the cavities of the peppers up to the top. Transfer your peppers to a baking dish and cover tightly with foil. Bake in your wood oven until the peppers are just beginning to get tender, about 10-15 minutes depending on the temperature of your oven. Remove the foil and allow the peppers to continue cooking until the filling is bubbly and golden brown on top. Remove from the oven and serve.