To bake excellent pizza from scratch, high heat is a must. And ordinary home ovens just can't deliver enough. According to Breville, its $799 Smart Oven Pizzaiolo is different (about £607, $1,125 AU). With a maximum temperature of 750 degrees Fahrenheit (399 Celsius), Breville claims this countertop cooker gets as hot as wood-fired furnaces.
That supposedly enables the electrically-powered Pizzaiolo to produce exceptional pies in just two minutes. What you pull out of the oven should also have telltale marks of artisan pizza. For instance, its crust should be charred in spots, yet the entire pie should be evenly cooked.
Primed for pizza
As its name suggests, Breville designed the Pizzaiolo for one primary purpose. The appliance is wide, squat, and has an oven cavity tailor-made to accommodate 12-inch pizzas. A pair of circular heating elements sit above and below the food inside the cavity.
A fancy PID (for "proportional, integral, derivative") controller is linked to both components. It functions as an electronic brain and regulates the oven's temperature on the fly.
Breville has a lot of experience with PID technology. Both theespresso machine (a CNET Editors' Choice winner) and the drip coffee maker have PID controllers. The two brewers use them to good effect, too, and create consistently delicious joe.
That level of control lets the Pizzaiolo come with preset cooking modes as well, seven in all. Choose between "wood-fired," "thin and crispy," "New York," "pan" and "frozen." Rounding out the list are two manual temperature settings of 450 and 750 degrees (F). To tweak things further, a "darkness" dial lets you select your preferred amount of browning.
$800 is a heck of a lot of dough (pun intended) to drop on a home pizza oven. And from what I've seen so far, the Pizzaiolo is a unitasker best used for pizza or other flatbreads. True pizza snobs will also notice that the Pizzaiolo doesn't technically meet the official Neapolitan standard (yes there is one) for heat.
This comprehensive preparation standard was created by an association of pizza experts. It hails from Naples, Italy, considered the origin of this iconic dish. Breville claims its appliance replicates this pizza style.
The spec calls for oven temps of 806 to 896 degrees F (430 to 480 C). Then again, the guidelines also demand cooking with wood-fired ovens only. Ingredients sourced from anywhere outside Italy's Campania region is unacceptable as well. Still, the proof is in the tasting.
If you remain undeterred, the $799 Breville Pizzaiolo is on sale now at Williams Sonoma. Breville expects to sell the appliance (same price) directly later this month.