Pizza Restaurant "speedbumps"

Hello! My name is Jason Waywell, and ASGM of a local pizza joint located in Yakima, WA.

One of the issues we are having at the moment is with our cook time and temp in our oven. On our more thin pizzas we push them in so the end of the pizza is just under the edge of the oven or else they will burn. The thick ones we let stick out a few inches. We then have to rotate pizzas to cook a side that hasnt been cooked enough and sometimes pull pizzas out early to keep them from burning. Our current settings are 5:35 cook time, and oven temp is set to 495. Are these settings about right? It is a lincoln gas fired oven with a 36" belt.

This is the first of many questions ill be asking on here, so thanks in advance for all the help!


Hi Jason:

You are not using your oven correctly.

Pizzas should be placed on the belt at least one inch prior to entering the oven and not picked up from the discharge end tell they are completely clear of the oven by about an inch,

Any diversion from that procedure will cause some portion of the pizza to be baked differently then the rest.

That is why you have to put the pizzas back in again.

What model Lincoln are you using and is it a single or double deck?

George Mills

But isn’t what he is doing partly as a result of different crust and thicknesses? I have MM360’s and do something similar (unless I am not understanding what is being said).
I have to push a thin crust in almost the pie length to not burn it- certainly if it’s a cheese or 1-top.
Pans often have to be pushed back a bit to get the bottom done properly.
Am I crazy?

No you are not crazy. We do this all day long. Our ovens are set to bake our standard pizza of 1 to 5 toppings. But we do thin, thick, lite done, well done and piled high with 20 toppings if that’s what the customer wants. Set your oven for your most common pizza and then do the manual adjust for the less common pizzas.

Exactly. Ok, just thought I was missing something… which is often the case!
People would often make a comment about tweaking this or that crust with times, pushing in… back… etc. I always tell people "Yeah, the oven is “set” for xx tem and xx time but a 10-Topping large is not the same as a thin crust cheeses… aka a “potato chip” at full cycle.

When was the last time you had your oven cleaned and calibrated? It could be some of the jet holes are clogged causing them your pizza to cook unevenly.

To minimize the uneven bake when doing this, push the pie forward or back as required when it is close to the middle of it’s path through the oven.

Yes that is a solution to the problem as moving the pizzas at mid stream will allow all parts of the product to spend the same amount of time in the oven as opposed to pushing the product in at the start or pulling it out at the end which results in some portion of the pizza not spending the same time in the oven.

Best to resolve the problem by having multiple ovens with split belts so various products can be baked properly with out adjustment during the bake cycle.

George mills

Thanks for all the great input guys! and sorry for the slow reply. Ive been quite busy and had a death in the family, so ive been struggling just being at work. Anyways, I do not know the exact oven model. I would have to call our service guy and see if he still has it. Im pretty sure it is an impinger and has a 32" belt, gas fired. It is a single deck. It is sitting on top of an old 32" belt vulcan oven that has a split belt however. But it turns out the speed controller for one of the belts is bad, and they dont make it anymore, so we need a $2500 adapter and new board.

Our lincoln has not been cleaned in the 9 months ive been here as far as I know. But we cant exactly break it down and clean it without another oven to default to. What is entailed with an oven calibration? Can it be done by a tech handy person? Or is it something that should only be done by a certified tech?

I realize we are not using our oven as effectively as we could. And I realize we should be able to put a majority of our pizzas on the edge of the belt, that is why i was asking for advice on oven settings. Our restaurant specializes in specialty pizzas (pun intended) that can be quite a bit more thick than a traditional BYO or our “budget” pizza (A $6 14" cheese or pep). So How should i go about tuning the oven for these thick pizzas? Is there a variable I should adjust first? Oven temp or speed?

IMO i would play with the speed of the belt first before changing your oven temp. I am by no means a expert in this, as i have only had to tweak my ovens when they start cooking incorrectly (usually dough or cheese get out of whack).

Also most ovens have hot spots, even conveyor ovens. With my current ovens the non door side stays slightly warmer (gasp who woulda thought lol) then the door side. So i train my staff to always put well done requests or heavy specialty pizzas on that side.

One other observation, if your heavy pizza’s are coming out slightly under cooked or “wet”, have you tried draining the veggies to as close as dry as possible ?

I will try changing time first for sure. And I try and push my crew to drain things thoroughly, but from time to time they do not. I will get on top of that. Any advice for effective draining? In the can or use a strainer or other tool? Another thing is the Alfredo sauce we use. If we prep it too thin, the pizzas come out with that “wet” look i think you described. What alfredo’s does everyone use? and are they “add water” mixes? Prepared? Scratch?

Our oven does have the same hot spot as yours, the side opposite the access door.

Yup… 360Q’s and unless they are packed, we can’t put a cheese in the back as it’ll burn; Has to go on the “front” or door side.
Many years ago somebody told me that “temp was the top of the pie” and “time was the bottom” Two caveats- I don’t know if he was correct and I don’t remember if I got that order correct!

Time cooks and temperature browns is another way to look at it.

Draining veggies is in my experience an experience thing. About half the time i do not get it the way i want, but my full time day driver (he does the prep work during the day time) gets it perfect every time.

As for your alfredo sauce, i can not offer any advice here. I have never worked with it :frowning:

Years ago I learned not to mess with the cook time*. It is possible to have a nicely browned pie with a raw center when you cook too fast at a higher temp. Our ovens are set for 7 minutes. With our dough recipe and weight that comes out just right. We adjust the temp until the pies come out looking right.

*Lesson learned… be careful what you ask for: I set an incentive for my manager tied to door times… in order to save a couple of minutes he increased the oven temps and cut the cook times. I never noticed until I had some local friends mention under-cooked pies a couple of times. My initial response was that that was nearly impossible until I happened to look at the oven settings… duh!

Now door time is just one of several service metrics I consider for bonuses and the time rule is absolute: NO MESSING WITH THE COOK TIME.

I started using these in the bottom of my cambro pans to help keep my banana peppers, jalapenos, and olives drained: I also use these on my fresh onions and peppers.

I use a colander pan for my mushrooms so the water drains out of them as much as possible. These don’t do a perfect job, but they make it a lot better.

As for alfredo sauce, I remember @GotRocks saying he had something he made for each pizza that sounded interesting that I haven’t had a chance to try yet. Maybe he can give more details on it.

Thank you for the advice everyone! I had adjusted my temps to 515 and 505 (L/R) and time to 4:50. The pizzas have been coming out pretty good. But I will try a longer cook time/lower temp and see where that gets me!

As far as Alfredo goes, we have been using an add water mix made by Trio. To make it thick enough for pizza applications, the flavor is way too concentrated and pungent. I ordered some prepared Alfredo made by Arrezzio. It looks better and is cheaper per oz. Ill have to do a taste test later.

Bodegahwy, what temps do you run at if you dont mind me asking? And what size/type of oven are you using? I would not mind longer cook times at all if it put out a superior product.

Stouffers has an alfredo that I will be trying this week.
Land O Lakes does, as well, but it’s special order only (from my dist)

I can get a stouffers brand pouch through my dist, But a simillar product made by Angela Mia is a bit cheaper. We tested the stuff i ordered, made by Arrezzio (the main Pizza brand we have through sysco), and it is very tasty. Runs about 30 cents an oz however. the Ang Mia brand runs 16, and the stouffers runs 24 cents/oz. Let me know how you like the stouffers, and if it is thick enough for pizza applications.

Will do- should be here today.
Interestingly enough, I visited another pizza place on here yesterday that is fairly close to me and he was nice enough to give me a can of the Land O Lakes Alfredo that he used to use.
Makes his own now, I believe.
It’s a year over the exp date but I may risk it- #10 can… I’m sure it’s fine. No guts, no glory… right?
We use the alfredo almost exclusively on pasta though we will be introducing a few alfredo pizzas so that may increase; “May” being the key word.
WE got an alfredo sauce through SYSCO that was branded “Carla” (or close to that) and it was nasty… N A S T Y. Like “where’s the trash so I can spit this out” nasty.