I’ve been open since February 1. We have a double stack 961 Blodgett w/stones. Shortly before opening, a dealer got me a deal on the Marsal SD series Oven - they shipped it to me and let me keep it for 60 days. If I didn’t like it, I could send it back. Let me qualify two things:
- I had a bad experience with Marsal and the broker. Although I will describe this experience later. I try not to let this influence my review.
- This is my first time owning and operating a pizza restaurant.
We cook two types of pizzas - thin and chicago. Our thin is a low hydration dough that cooks at 550 for 6 minutes. Our Chicago is cooked in a pan with Crisco at 475 for 30 minutes +/-. We sell 2:1 thin to Chicago. Our volume of is about 100 pies per day average. When we uncrated the Marsal, it seemed to be of very high quality. The doors were quite heavy and the assist mechanism is top quality. What obviously stood out were the stones. First, they are 2" thick. Next they are narrow (18" I think) and run from the front to the back of the oven. They are clearly labeled to be smooth side down which is good because that was quite counter-intuitive. I immediately had a concern that variations in the stone heights could be troublesome of the edge of a pizza was near where the stones met. However, no problems so far.
My oven was installed by my general contractor and his plumber. He has been involved in the buildout of dozens of pizza places and has installed much higher-end ovens than these (this becomes important later, because Marsal accused me of improper plumbing).
We cooked thin crust pizzas in the Marsal for a short period and then it became apparent our thins would outsell our Chicagos requiring us to make the Marsal oven the “Chicago oven”. It has been used that way since the first week. It functions fine and cooks our pizzas in about 30 minutes. Rarely has it failed to keep its temperature with one notable (and understandable) exception. During a particularly busy Saturday, we had the oven completely crammed with Chicago style pies. In fact, we loaded them 3 high. We spent so much time in and out of the oven that it simply couldn’t maintain temperature and fell to 400 or lower for a period of time. Otherwise, it has kept up.
Now the bad (or at least not so good):
1st: It is NOT discernibly better than my older 961’s. The alleged elimination of hotspots is vastly over-exagerated in my application. The rear of the oven is substantially hotter than the front (and remember, our cooktimes are 30 minutes so we open the door far less than most). The side vents do circulate heat but also create hot drafts that blow directly on the pies causing overcooking on top. The separate stones create a great area for bench flour (or semolina, in our case) to collect and fall into. Luckily, this is not an issue with us because we no longer cook directly on the hearth - we use pans in this oven. I noticed NO DISCERNIBLE REDUCTION IN COOK TIME on either the chicago or the thin.
2nd: This is minor, but the oven lacks an on/off switch. You have to turn the thermostat dial all the way to off. This means I have to be very careful to return the thermostat to the right temperature each day. Although this is a minor nuisance, at this level of oven, you’d think a shut off would be pretty standard.
3rd: While the oven itself is built very solidly, the acoutraments are not. The legs on which it sits are pretty rickety for the weight of the oven. But it stays up… The vent stack is a pretty flimsy afterthought. As we store pans on top the oven, this might become an issue in the future.
In sum, regarding the oven, it is not worth a premium in my shop. It functions fine but does not appear to outperform my other deck oven in any respect.
As for Marsal, I had very poor customer service experience with them. At the end of my trial, I explained that the oven worked fine but that it was too expensive and not large enough for my shop. I was told that it would be too expensive for me to ship it back. I explained that we had contemplated return shipment from the beginning and that I had sourced freight already. They refused to deliver me a return bill for weeks. Eventually, they sent the rep back to visit with me. He began to ask me very defensive questions about why I didn’t think the oven performed well. When I explained that it worked fine, but it was not big enough nor discernibly better, he began to fill out a “checklist” Marsal had given him which indicated that I opened the door too often, that the oven was improperly installed, etc. It was quite laughable really. In the end, I decided to purchase it and get rid of it rather than fight with them any longer. As a an extra-bonus, they tacked on an additional $250 to the agreed upon price (we had verbally agreed upon the price). When I refused to pay it, they simply used my credit card number to charge the $250.00 without my permission. My dispute is pending with the CC company now. Caveat emptor.
Now I’m in the market for a used double-stack (y-600 preferrably or another Blodgett). I can’t start delivery without the extra real estate. And I have a barely used Marsal for sale if you’re interested…