Breville Smart Oven Pizzaiolo Review
Pros: Exceptionally user-friendly, able to bake multiple types of pizza, stylish
Cons: Extravagantly expensive, bulky footprint, pulls a significant amount of power
Compare to Similar Products
Breville Smart Oven Pizzaiolo
|Price||$1,000 List||$499 List|
$499 at Amazon
|$250 List||$349 List||$110 List|
$109.99 at Amazon
|Pros||Exceptionally user-friendly, able to bake multiple types of pizza, stylish||Unbelievable heat retention, quick baking time, accurate integrated thermometer, multi-fuel system||Reasonably priced, large capacity, heavily insulated firebox, transformable design improves versatility||Fantastic crust quality, high-fire temperatures, compact and portable||Affordable, designed for a normal range oven, fast bake times|
|Cons||Extravagantly expensive, bulky footprint, pulls a significant amount of power||Expensive, heavy, wood-fire box is small||Bulky, heavy, slow to preheat||Steep learning curve related to control, prolonged cook times||Heat profile depends on oven, heavyweight|
|Bottom Line||An indoor alternative to building your own authentic wood-fired brick oven outside, this specialty pizza oven is the type of appliance to incorporate into a kitchen re-design||Superior design precedes superior performance in this professional-grade oven made for the common cook||Top-notch cooking performance, output power, and versatility, all at a fraction of the cost of direct competitors||The brand that put portable pizza ovens on the map lives up to its name with outstanding performance||A heavy-duty carbon steel slab capable of serious heat transfer to make the best pizza you've ever experienced out of a normal oven|
|Rating Categories||Breville Smart Oven...||Gozney Roccbox||BakerStone Original||Ooni Koda 12||NerdChef 3/8" Steel...|
|Cooking Performance (30%)|
|Output Power (30%)|
|Ease Of Use (15%)|
|Specs||Breville Smart Oven...||Gozney Roccbox||BakerStone Original||Ooni Koda 12||NerdChef 3/8" Steel...|
|Fuel Type||Electric||Gas, Wood (w/ conversion)||Gas||Gas||n/a|
|Power Output||1800 watts||14,330 BTU||25,000 BTU||13,648 BTU||n/a|
|Size of Firebox||n/a||156 cu. in.||n/a||n/a||n/a|
|Average Stone Temperature||756°F (on "Wood Fired" setting)||748°F||732°F||733°F||686°F|
|Footprint||335 sq in.||299 sq. in.||345 sq. in.||368 sq. in.||228 sq. in.|
|Maximum Pizza Diameter||12"||12"||13"||12"||14"|
Our Analysis and Test Results
Similar to the less purpose-built Smart Oven (of the same product line), the Smart Oven Pizzaiolo utilizes Breville's patented Element iQ system for "smart cooking." The system presets have been specially designed to direct power to specific heating elements depending on the type of pizza you are baking. Additionally, the system employs temperature sensors, and a PID control unit inside the well-insulated oven to achieve the optimal baking environment based on the particular pizza variety you want to achieve.
The Smart Oven Pizzaiolo borrows its name from the UNESCO-protected art of pizza making in the Naples region of Italy. It refers to the chef who oversees the traditional production of pizza making: from the precise preparation of dough to specialized baking techniques of wood-fired ovens. This Pizzaiolo oven seeks to recreate the experience of Neapolitan-style pizza, adding the satisfaction of being able to bake these specialty pies from the comfort of your own kitchen. After a 20 minute preheat on the "Wood Fired" setting, this is the only electric model capable of reaching a measured average stone temperature of 756°F. After a preset 2 minute bake time, this oven turns out a practically perfect Neapolitan-style pizza — "soft and fragrant," with an impressively airy crust that is lightly singed but never burnt.
But the incredible capability of the Smart Oven Pizzaiolo does not stop at just Neapolitan-style pizzas. The brilliance of Breville's patented Element iQ design is that this cooking system can easily adjust to achieve optimum baking environments for multiple kinds of pizzas, including Bar-style (listed as "Thin & Crispy"), New York, and Pan pizzas (better known as Chicago-style Deep Dish. It even has a setting for take-away, Frozen pizzas if home-cooking isn't exactly your thing. These preset options span the spectrum of pizza varieties and are an important distinction in design because each type requires specific baking conditions to achieve its style particulars.
Depending on the setting, the top and bottom heating elements automatically adjust heat output and distribution with the ability to switch between internal and exterior coils according to the temperature control system; other sensors monitor internal air temperature and humidity and operate a fan to automatically control the oven environment. Instead of replicating the extremely hot, dry environment of a wood-fired oven, the New York preset heats the pizza stone to an ideal average of 520°F while maintaining a bit of humidity for the requisite foldability of the chewy crust. For a deep-dish pie, your purchase includes a carbon-steel pan to efficiently cook these skillet pies in only 18 minutes, producing a pizza with the key combination of a crunchy base, fluffy crust, and a thoroughly cooked filling.
Every oven we tested that successfully reproduces a wood-fired pizza effectively translates the three pillars of a Neapolitan-style oven: intense direct heat from the source, the resulting ambient air temperature in the range of 800°F, and an insulated pizza stone capable of absorbing and transmitting a similarly extreme amount of heat. According to the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana (AVPN), the organization that sets the international regulation for Neapolitan pizza, this combination of conductive, radiative, and convective heat are required to quickly bake perfectly puffed pies.
Indeed, the Smart Oven Pizzaiolo skillfully combines all three key components with the capable Element iQ system. Dual heating elements — one on the top of the oven and another tucked away underneath the pizza stone in the slide-out deck — each have an interior and exterior coil to evenly distribute heat throughout the oven. Even though this oven is electric and only puts out 1800 watts (equivalent to the standard Breville Smart Oven), thoughtful design points specifically direct heat to significantly improve baking quality.
This oven uses a durable cordierite stone, which is thermally shock-resistant and therefore able to heat up quickly without cracking. This allows it to rest directly against the deck coils, providing an even conductive heat distribution that results in an ideal crust consistency, regardless of pizza type. We used an infrared thermometer to take temperature readings across the stone surface, averaged those numbers, and then used a standard deviation approach to directly compare pizza stones of different ovens. The Smart Oven Pizzaiolo has, by far, the evenest temperature profile across the stone of any oven we tested, with an optimal temperature of 756°F on the Neapolitan setting. Even though the average internal temperature of the oven is less-than-ideal on this setting — averaging only 663°F — it is still capable of producing beautiful pizzas in this style, thanks to key designs to control radiant and convective heat distribution.
To achieve ideal upper and lower crust consistency-- timed perfectly with the finish time for toppings — the convective and radiant heat delivery relies not only on the automatically adjusting heat elements but also the highly reflective interior of a highly insulated oven body.
While regular gas- or wood-fired ovens require constant attention and regular turning to avoid burning a Neapolitan pie, the dual-coal heating elements in the Pizzaiolo deliver even radiant heat across the top of the pizza for consistent results. For settings other than "Wood Fired," the inner heating element switches on and off throughout the cooking process — this is how the oven achieves the characteristically browned cheese on the "New York" preset.
This is enhanced by parabolic reflectors encircling the heating elements, which help enhance the precision of radiant heat delivery and improve efficiency. And that is how the oven can cook at sub-800°F air temperatures and yet still produce similar quality pies to a traditional Neapolitan wood-fired oven. The reflectors also are designed to direct radiant heat outward towards the crust to achieve the sought-after "leopard-spotted effect" — the browning of the crust instead of burning — rather than overcooking toppings or burning cheese. For those who might prefer their pizzas a little over- or under-crisped, there is even a knob to adjust for a lighter or darker crust.
Ease of Use
Much of the allure of the Pizzaiolo is around its user-friendliness. For those who want to turn out flawless pizzas each and every time but are a bit wary of their own cooking skills, this oven is all-but automatic. It offers all of the same convenience of other electric ovens but actually delivers high-quality pies. With the style presets and obvious alarm system for things like preheating and cooking times, you can focus on pizza preparation and leave the worry to this smart oven.
However, for those who do want to be more involved in the cooking process, this oven also offers a "manual" setting. This allows you to dial in the deck and oven temperatures and set whether the top heating element distributes heat evenly or directs it more towards the crust. Despite its purposeful design specific to pizza making, the Pizzaiolo delivers a full-value experience — from fully automatic to entirely manual operation. This is what makes this oven such a versatile option for such a wide array of cooking abilities.
It is the size and expense that limit the value of this oven, not its cooking performance or ease of use. There is no way around it: the Pizzaiolo is an expensive, single-purpose appliance that will likely only appeal to those designing a lavishly technical modern kitchen or to the truly pizza-obsessed.
For those seeking the ultimate at-home pizza maker to simplify the baking process, the fully automated design of the Breville Smart Oven Pizzaiolo should be incorporated into your kitchen. This extravagant oven is a remarkable feat of engineering by a design team that clearly loves pizza. It does, however, carry a price tag that will outshine its marvel for many.
— Aaron Rice