For those just considering getting into pizza making, the Cuisinart Alfrescamore presents a valuable, accessible pizza oven that makes it easy to see what this trend is all about without breaking the bank. This oven produces temperatures significantly lower than other gas-fired models, which affords the time to make mistakes while still consistently producing quality pies. Though detrimental to maintaining oven insulation, the hinged lid certainly makes it easier to both load and adjust pizzas. Once you come into practice, pizza stone temperatures can reach over 650°F, allowing you to recreate your favorite New York cheese slice or classically-charred New Haven-style apizza. If this sounds like something you'd like to explore, the Alfrescamore may be the perfect addition to your lineup of kitchen tools.Editor's Note: The Cuisinart Alfrescamore review was updated on February 14th, 2022. We provide additional information on which ovens we would buy and offer more tips to compare products.
Cuisinart Alfrescamore Review
Pros: Hinged lid for easy access, accurate thermometer, burner design produces quality crust, includes pizza peel
Cons: No handle requires hot mitts to operate lid, issues with temperature control, exposed gas components
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|Pros||Hinged lid for easy access, accurate thermometer, burner design produces quality crust, includes pizza peel||Reasonably priced, large capacity, heavily insulated firebox, transformable design improves versatility||High-fire temperatures, amazing airflow, multi-fuel option||Affordable, designed for a normal range oven, fast bake times||Aesthetic, large and versatile, easy to operate|
|Cons||No handle requires hot mitts to operate lid, issues with temperature control, exposed gas components||Bulky, heavy, slow to preheat||Dangerous flame blowback, awkward attachment of the gas adaptor||Heat profile depends on oven, heavyweight||Lower average internal temperature, lack of insulation, long preheat times|
|Bottom Line||An easy-access, flip-up top combined with a simple gas burner make this an appealing entry-level pizza oven||Top-notch cooking performance, output power, and versatility, all at a fraction of the cost of direct competitors||A powerful pizza oven with the special capability to cook with gas and wood simultaneously||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||A large-bodied, versatile option that flaunts the good looks of much more expensive pizza ovens|
|Rating Categories||Cuisinart Alfrescamore||BakerStone Original||Bertello Outdoor||NerdChef 3/8" Steel...||Mont Alpi Portable|
|Cooking Performance (30%)|
|Output Power (30%)|
|Ease of Use (15%)|
|Specs||Cuisinart Alfrescamore||BakerStone Original||Bertello Outdoor||NerdChef 3/8" Steel...||Mont Alpi Portable|
|Fuel Type||Gas||Gas||Gas, Wood (w/ conversion)||n/a||Gas|
|Power Output||15,000 BTU||25,000 BTU||Not listed||n/a||12,000 BTU|
|Size of Firebox||n/a||n/a||97.5 cu. in.||n/a||n/a|
|Average Stone Temperature||589°F||732°F||777°F||686°F||623°F|
|Footprint||432 sq. in.||345 sq. in.||301 sq. in.
441 sq. in. (w/ gas attachment)
|228 sq. in.||306 sq. in.|
|Maximum Pizza Diameter||12"||13"||12"||14"||12"|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Cuisinart Alfrescamore is designed very much in the same vein as their portable gas grills. It is sturdy, easy-to-use, and reasonably powerful relative to its size. The Alfrescamore is powered by a single 15,000 BTU gas burner located directly underneath the 13" pizza stone. The hinged top makes it much easier, not to mention safer, for the inexperienced to load pizzas and clean both the stone and oven at the night's end. Best of all, this accessible model includes a 12" pizza peel with a foldable handle, which is designed so well that it became our go-to peel for testing all our other ovens!
The Alfrescamore is one of the few ovens included in this review that isn't advertised as a Neapolitan-style pizza oven, using high-fire temperatures for cooking pizzas in less than 90 seconds. Instead, this oven is marketed as capable of producing pizzas "in as little as 5 minutes," which is precisely what we found in our testing. This toned-down approach makes the Alfrescamore so approachable for those just firing up their first pizza oven.
This gas oven takes between five and seven minutes to get a pizza from raw to ready to slice, giving you plenty of time to move and adjust the position of the pizza in the oven to achieve your perfect pie. This oven is also unique, thanks to a hinged lid, which allows you to easily access the pizza without having to figure out how to reach into a hot oven. While this certainly makes cooking more manageable, it is essential to remember that you will release internal heat vital to cooking every time you lift the lid, which will increase reheat times between pizzas.
After a standard preheat time of 15 minutes, this oven can reach temperatures near 575°F, but only if you operate without lifting the lid. Otherwise, standard procedure — including lifting the top to check on the pizza status — will drop the average oven temperature closer to 480°F. We recognize that a novice may not yet want to invest in an infrared thermometer to add to their pizza-making tool lineup. Fortunately, the Alfrescamore integrates an impressively accurate thermometer to help you monitor the internal temperature.
While this is much too low to bake a Neapolitan-style pizza, the lower internal oven temperature balances nicely with a notably hotter pizza stone to still produce quality pies. A powerful, U-shaped burner is perfectly positioned in the center of the oven, which provides enough heat for the pizza stone to maintain an average temperature of 663°F. This heat distribution allows you to produce pies with a golden upper crust contrasted with a perfectly blackened bottom, along the lines of New Haven-style apizza.
Oven insulation is a topic we would typically cover in the previous section. However, due to the distinctive design of the Alfrescamore, it is more appropriate to consider this factor when discussing oven control. While the oven does a nice job maintaining an internal temperature proportional to the insulation of the oven chamber, it will release that heat every time you lift the lid. It is easy to lose 100°F or more in the mere seconds it takes to load or adjust a pizza with the lid open.
Fortunately, the design of the oven chamber helps to recover this heat loss quickly — and, for that matter, helps cope with the overall lower heat output of this oven. A heat shield over the burner helps disperse heat evenly across the bottom of the pizza stone and redirects much of this heat outward and upward. The lower height of the stainless steel cover re-radiates this heat to get the oven back up to temperature within just three to five minutes. The offset internal and pizza stone temperatures also do an excellent job working to crisp the bottom crust without burning either the top or toppings.
Ease of Use
Thanks to these design specifics, the Alfrescamore is one of our favorite ovens when it comes to ease of use. Unlike other, more powerful ovens, this one can consistently produce quality pizzas without much fuss. And unlike other ovens that require you to monitor and turn a pizza constantly every 15-20 seconds to avoid burning the crust, you really only have to turn this pizza a few times to achieve the same type of consistency.
Despite its accessibility, this oven would benefit from a few simple design adjustments that could significantly improve its ease of use. Don't be fooled by the marketing photos: the top of this oven is hot, and because there is no handle, you have to wear heat gloves if you want to lift the lid. For some reason, the gas components are also fully exposed, which could easily be damaged in storage or during transport. Lastly, this is one of the larger — and heavier — ovens we tested, and its awkward design makes it more of a hassle to store.
Should You Buy the Cuisinart Alfrescamore?
Please don't let the relatively low score this oven received dissuade you. Even though it doesn't have the same capability as higher scoring ovens, this model presents a fantastic value relative to its cooking performance. Its ease of use is approachable for novice chefs, and the price point makes it a great entry-level option. Last but not least, this kit includes a pizza peel, so you are set up right off the bat. We recommend this pizza oven to anyone who is interested in trying their hand at homemade pies but isn't ready to splurge on specialty kitchen tools.
What Other Pizza Ovens Should You Consider?
For those used to the accessibility of a gas-powered grill and also interested in the world of pizza making, the Cuisinart Alfrescamore is a great transition between the two methods of outdoor cooking. It is designed with the amateur in mind; the lower fire temperatures allow you to hone your craft while still producing quality pizzas every time. However, if you are a seasoned pizza chef, you may be looking for something with a bit more power. In that case, we recommend you look at the BakerStone Original. It is a top-performer that falls in the same price range. If you want the best of the best and are ready to invest, the Gozney Roccbox is one of our favorite ovens all around.
— Aaron Rice
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