How to Choose the Best Pizza Oven for Your Needs

There are a variety of pizza ovens on the market. In this blog, we discuss the pros and cons of various commercial pizza ovens. Discover cooking and holding solutions to achieve the highest quality and variety of food in your pizza program. 

The growth potential within the pizza industry is vast. A dish that holds up well in any service model, pizza makes the perfect meal for dine-in, carryout or delivery.  With the added bonus of cost-effectively feeding an entire family, it’s a popular meal choice around the globe.

Best of all, pizza is the perfect comfort food. Nothing beats the taste of warm, gooey cheese topped with crispy pepperoni slices. Sharing a pizza can be the perfect centerpiece to an evening spent at home with the family.

For a restauranteur or foodservice operator, adding pizza to the menu is a great way to expand their menu, attract new customers, and increase revenue streams. A relatively small number of ingredients can be combined in a nearly infinite number of ways. Restaurant or convenience store pizza programs can be managed with just a few people. And with the right equipment, preparation can be a breeze.

The first ingredient when it comes to adding a pizza program is the oven. Choosing the best commercial pizza oven for your needs will go a long way to determining the success of your pizza program.

Which pizza oven is right for me? 

There are a variety of pizza ovens on the market. Each is suited to a particular kitchen layout, and each has its advantages and disadvantages. Here are a few of the most popular.

Brick ovens

When one thinks of New York-style pizza, chances are what they’re really thinking of is pizza cooked in a wood- or coal-fired oven. This style of oven dates back hundreds of years, to the days before ovens were powered by gas or electricity. As the name implies, the cooking surface is made up of brick or stone that can withstand heat topping 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. These ovens are typically dome-shaped and can’t be moved once installed.

Brick ovens can take an immense amount of skill to operate. It can take hours for these ovens to reach the proper temperature, meaning the fire must be started early in the morning. Most coal ovens use anthracite coal found mostly in northern Pennsylvania, and as such fuel costs can be high. Because the temperature is so high, pizzas cook in two or three minutes and often must be rotated throughout the process, meaning they require constant attention to ensure food is cooked properly. Thanks to these and other factors, brick ovens are best suited to gourmet pizza restaurants.

A pizza tidbit: New York City rarely issues permits for new brick pizza ovens due to environmental concerns. If an existing brick oven is uncovered when renovating an older building, it’s a sure bet that the space will soon house a gourmet pizza restaurant.

Deck ovens

Deck ovens cook in much the same way as a brick oven, except they use gas or electricity to create the needed temperature. These heavy-duty commercial ovens typically come in one-two-, or three-deck varieties. Although they can be brought to temperature more quickly than a brick oven, the process can still take as long as an hour.

They’re good for restaurants that need to cook a high volume of pizzas quickly. Deck ovens are relatively easy to maintain thanks to a small number of moving parts, but they can be quite large and require a large ventilation hood. In addition, it takes nearly as much skill to manage a deck oven as it does to manage a brick oven.

Conveyor ovens

Commercial conveyor pizza ovens use a conveyor belt to move a pizza through the oven, thereby regulating the cooking time and delivering a consistent product. Many popular pizza chains use conveyor ovens in their restaurants because of their ease of operation. They typically use either gas or electricity to produce heat.

Conveyor ovens are convenient, although they do have some drawbacks. Because the components of a conveyor oven are constantly moving, they tend to require more maintenance than a deck oven. Each end of the conveyor is open to the surrounding air, meaning they waste more energy than other types of ovens and can make for an uncomfortably hot work environment. And while the conveyor speed can be timed to deliver a perfect medium thin-crust pepperoni it may be necessary to push a large pan pizza supreme, for example, back into the oven for a few minutes to ensure it’s cooked all the way through.

A more versatile oven solution

Although each of these ovens has its pros and cons, and it’s often possible to find a large pizza oven for sale at a bargain price, they do share several weaknesses when it comes to adding pizza programs. These ovens are great for foodservice providers who focus entirely on pizza, but they can be too large and too expensive to operate in situations where pizza is a part of a larger menu. In addition, they’ll require a costly ventilation system to be included with the installation.

So when it comes to choosing the right oven for your pizza program needs, start with a few basic questions. How much space do I have? Will the program need to be handled with just a few people? Will I add other items such as wings or breadsticks?

To meet the needs of operators who are considering adding pizza to the menu but don’t have a great deal of space or a large staff, Alto-Shaam has developed its Vector® Wide Multi-Cook Oven. Featuring up to three independent oven chambers, Vector wide allow operators to control the temperature, fan speed and cook time in each individual chamber for unparalleled versatility. That feature allows the Vector H Wide oven to not only easily handle 16-inch large pizzas but also allows operators to cook sides such as wings, breadsticks, pastas, calzones and more—at the same time and at each item’s ideal cook settings—with no flavor transfer.

Vector H Series wide ovens incorporate Alto-Shaam’s Structured Air Technology®, enabling high-velocity, focused heat for faster, more even cooking, ensuring the highest quality output.

Alto-Shaam’s Vector wide oven, for example, includes features that make it a contender for recognition as the best commercial countertop pizza oven on the market today, including:

  • Can be placed anywhere. The ovens feature a compact 24” (610mm) footprint with 2 or 3 chambers. Ventless operation, eliminating the need for an exhaust hood.
  • Temperature, fan speed, and cook time can be controlled in each individual oven chamber.
  • Cook with half-size sheet pans, hotel pans, or 16" pizza screens for maximum menu flexibility. Additional pizza program cooking accessories are available for further menu expansion.
  • Simple, intuitive operation for labor savings and quick training.
  • Door can be opened as needed. Vertical curtains of air nearly eliminate heat loss. Cooler door. No blast of hot air.
  • ChefLinc™ remote oven management system provides operators complete control of their ovens, menus, and business with real-time data at their fingertips.
  • Made in the USA

A perfect match

Pairing a Vector Multi-Cook oven with other Alto-Shaam products can be the foundation of any successful pizza program.

Alto-Shaam offers a variety of commercial pizza merchandisers and display cases and pizza warmer cabinets featuring its revolutionary Halo Heat® technology, surrounding food with gentle, radiant heat that leaves food full of moisture and flavor without the use of extremely hot elements, added humidity, or fans.

Designed to boost impulse sales and drive foodservice profits, Vector Multi-Cook ovens and heated shelf merchandisers are the perfect solutions for implementing or expanding a grab-and-go foodservice program.

Pizzas and other items can be cooked ahead of busy periods and placed in a heated holding cabinet or heated shelf display for quick sale.

Talk to an expert today for more information on how Alto-Shaam can help you launch a successful pizza program that’s sure to increase your profits.

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