I’m in the planning stages of opening a bistro style restaurant that will offer pizzas in a style similar to Serious Pie in Seattle, a thicker, lighter crust, longer bake time (they use Mt. Rainier WFO, no gas assist at a deck temp of about 650°). But that will only be part of the menu. We plan to offer seared steaks, fish, roasted chicken, veggies, in cast iron and ceramic bakeware flowing in and out of the oven as well, so maintaining floor temp will be challenging. I’m considering the Woodstone 9660 Fire Deck, with combo wood on one side, gas burner on the other and the floor burner option. It will be the main appliance for the entire restaurant, an open kitchen, although we will have a range with convection oven for saute and low temp baking.
I know the focus here is all things pizza, but does anyone have any experience using these ovens cooking pizzas with other items at the same time? I’ve been to the Woodstone factory and was impressed with how easily they cook all of these items at once, but am wondering about how it would work during heavy dinner service. Again, not after the charred high temp Neo-style pizza, but more west coast style, high temp stone hearth cooking. The dome shape doesn’t fit on the line as easily, and has more limited access, but I could work with it if necessary.
We had one here at one time that we used for training purposes, and it certainly lived up to its reputation for being able to bake a multitude of things all at the same time without any apparent loss of baking/cooking temperature or quality, even when pushed very hard. Just remember to toss an occasional log into the fire to maintain a uniform top heat.
I’ve worked with other stores having these ovens in all different configurations, baking as you have described, at a lower temperature, to get more of an east coast bake, and in every instance, I’ve not seen one of these ovens fail to keep up, again, as long as you remember to toss that all important log into the fire occasionally.
Some things to keep in mind;
Formulate your dough without any sugar, eggs, or milk to control crust color development.
Maintain an open space immediately in front of the oven 1.5 times the length of the oven peel to allow room for the oven tender to do his/her work without planting a hot pizza, or some other hot food item onto a fellow employee.
The oven tender will be a dedicated position. Please don’t ask him/her to cut and box pizza too. If you do, their employment may be shorter than you had anticipated.
Use an I.R. thermometer to map your oven.
Buy some wood pizza prep peels for prepping the pizzas and peeling them into the oven.
Make sure you get both an oven rake and oven broom.
Make sure local code will allow you to use this type of oven.
Your concept sounds great!
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor
Thanks for the feedback and your very valuable advice. I will have to decide soon which way to go–dome (round) or Fire Deck—since the design obviously hinges on which one. The dome size we are considering is the largest Woodstone, the Mt. Rainier 7’, wood/with gas rear and floor burners, the same used by most CPKs and WP Cafes. But you need larger peels, lots of swing clearance, etc., and we need to demo the front door facade to get it in. One reason why I was also considering the Fire Deck. I have some hands on experience with the Mt. Rainier, a Saturday night at Scarpas in ABQ as a “guest oven tender,” we did more than 225 pizzas from 5:30 to 8:30. Added two oak logs at 6:15 and the oven never skipped a beat, maybe dropping 25 degrees max. We had as many as ten 12" pies going at the same time!
I don’t have the same experience with the Fire Deck other than my factory visit, but I did like the extra room and access, especially for moving in searing platters and such. I’m going to be losing a lot more sleep over this…it is THE single biggest decision we have to make.
Again, I really appreciate the feedback.
PS> Do you also moderate pizzamaking.com? I did post this question there so forgive me for the repetition.
I installed a 9960 here in our business this spring after visiting Bellingham to check them out in November. During my Woodstone visit I was quickly switched from a Mt. Ranier to a Firedeck, and I think I made the right decision after having the oven up and running here for a couple of months. Our oven is fully gas fired, but I don’t think there is a lot of difference operationally, especially if you are interested in the IR option.
I would be happy to discuss this with you if you’d like, although, we are still learning all the capabilities of the oven ourselves. Feel free to PM me.