Camp Chef Italia Artisan Review
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Camp Chef Italia Artisan
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|Pros||Able to bake 18" pizzas, easy to fire, even heat distribution||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||Large and heavy, slower fire times, doesn't retain heat well||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||A fantastic oven if you want to fire up to 18" New York-style pizzas, but design hampers its ability to replicate the heat of a Neapolitan oven||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||Camp Chef Italia Ar...||Gozney Roccbox||BakerStone Original||Ooni Koda 12||NerdChef 3/8" Steel...|
|Cooking Performance (30%)|
|Output Power (30%)|
|Ease of Use (15%)|
|Specs||Camp Chef Italia Ar...||Gozney Roccbox||BakerStone Original||Ooni Koda 12||NerdChef 3/8" Steel...|
|Fuel Type||Gas||Gas, Wood (w/ conversion)||Gas||Gas||n/a|
|Power Output||17,000 BTU||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||647°F||748°F||732°F||733°F||686°F|
|Footprint||588 sq. in.||299 sq. in.||345 sq. in.||368 sq. in.||228 sq. in.|
|Maximum Pizza Diameter||18"||12"||13"||12"||14"|
Our Analysis and Test Results
Inspired by the shape of a traditional barrel chamber pizza oven, the Camp Chef Italia Artisan is more of a mid-level oven in terms of temperature output, despite its powerful 17,000 BTU burner. This oversized, 18" oven is much more of a backyard fixture than a portable option, weighing 47 pounds with a footprint of four square feet. The Italia is gas-powered and can run on a single canister or a full-size propane tank and includes hook-ups for both. The Italia Artisan has a built-in thermometer to monitor ambient air temperature behind the front door of this oven. But we always recommend firing pizzas with an infrared thermometer to read pizza stone temperatures.
While the Italia Artisan is an attempt to recreate the famed brick ovens of Napoli in miniature form in your backyard, it doesn't hit the mark. Even after allowing it to preheat for an hour –- twice the preheat time of comparable models –- this oven still never hit the ideal 750°F in the center of the pizza stone. The cook surface temperature measured a respectable 647°F on average, cooking 12" pizzas in a little over six minutes on average, with larger pies taking a minute or two more. While these pizzas have the beautiful appearance of a flame-kissed Neapolitan pizza, the texture of the crust and the look of the bottom suggest something more in line with a classic New York slice. You can expect to turn out great pizzas with regularity, just don't expect to recreate a Neapolitan-style pizza with the Italia Artisan.
Please don't get us wrong; the Italia Artisan oven is hot –- it just doesn't get quite as hot as other ovens we tested or as the marketing materials may suggest. The issues are, unfortunately, in the design: how the burners generate heat and how that hot air moves (or, in this case, doesn't move) through the oven. The 17,000 BTU burners are some of the more powerful in our lineup, but instead of directing flame up and across the roof like a classic barrel chamber pizza oven, the flames are blocked by the oversized pizza stone. The average internal air temperature of 667°F is in the ballpark. Still, without that direct radiative heat from open flames, pushing the pizza stone temperature to hit the 700°F mark that Camp Chef claims is very difficult.
Our analysis and tests indicate that the Italia Artisan is a well-constructed, well-insulated oven. Examining the chamber with an infrared thermometer revealed a standard deviation of only 12°F across the oven's surfaces, putting this model on par with some of the highest-end ovens in our review. But in our experience, any model that includes a cover is already at a disadvantage to more powerful open ovens that use airflow to draw a rolling flame through the oven chamber. Unfortunately, our hunch was confirmed by the performance of the Italia Artisan. Following readings of the thermometer installed on the roof and using an infrared thermometer to measure the pizza stone, we watched the stone and internal air temperatures dip dramatically every time we loaded, turned, or pulled a pizza out of the oven. We love that the large, 22" opening offers a chance to cook larger pizzas. But without an open flame heating the oven chamber, critical convective energy escapes through the front of this oven every time you open it.
Ease of Use
The Italia Artisan is one of the few pizza ovens in our lineup that requires much assembly. As this small amount of work seems to help keep price points low, we've given Camp Chef a break in the past. But other options at this same price point are practically ready to bake right out of the box. Camp Chef includes a regulator for smaller propane bottles and a hose to connect to a full-size propane tank, allowing you to choose your fuel type. However, we would never consider the Italia Artisan a 'portable' option due to the sheer size and weight. It is, however, incredibly easy to fire and is one of the only options on the market that allows you to bake pizzas up to 18" in diameter. While it may take a minute or two more to bake a full-size pie, the ability to cook larger pizzas makes it much easier to feed a crowd.
Should You Buy the Camp Chef Italia Artisan?
So many ovens on the market are trying to recreate the specialty Neapolitan-style pizza, including the Italia Artisan. But what about all of the other wonderful styles of pizza out there? There is a niche to fill by offering people the chance to make a crispy New Haven apizza, or a perfectly foldable New York slice, right in their backyards. While this oven doesn't produce the types of temperatures required for a Neapolitan pie, it is plenty powerful to recreate these other two beloved styles.
What Other Pizza Ovens Should You Consider?
There are only a few other ovens on the market capable of tuning their temperature output down to make a NY-style pizza. Surprisingly, The Original Baking Steel turns out this style of pizza more consistently than any oven we tested and only requires the power of the range oven in your kitchen. But if you are set on making Neapolitan-style pizzas, then it is worthwhile checking out the Ooni Koda 12, our top choice for a portable oven.
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