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||Affordable, designed for a normal range oven, fast bake times||Aesthetic, large and versatile, easy to operate||Affordable, small foot-print, easy to use|
|Cons||No handle requires hot mitts to operate lid, issues with temperature control, exposed gas components||Bulky, heavy, slow to preheat||Heat profile depends on oven, heavyweight||Lower average internal temperature, lack of insulation, long preheat times||Long bake times, sub-par quality pizza|
|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 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||This oven is reminiscent of a hot-plate and is user-friendly but does not provide particularly quality results|
|Rating Categories||Cuisinart Alfrescamore||BakerStone Original||NerdChef 3/8" Steel...||Mont Alpi Portable||Presto Pizzazz Plus|
|Cooking Performance (30%)|
|Output Power (30%)|
|Ease Of Use (15%)|
|Specs||Cuisinart Alfrescamore||BakerStone Original||NerdChef 3/8" Steel...||Mont Alpi Portable||Presto Pizzazz Plus|
|Power Output||15,000 BTU||25,000 BTU||n/a||12,000 BTU||1235 watts|
|Size of Firebox||n/a||n/a||n/a||n/a||n/a|
|Average Stone Temperature||589°F||732°F||686°F||623°F||300°F|
|Footprint||432 sq. in.||345 sq. in.||228 sq. in.||306 sq. in.||229 sq. in.|
|Maximum Pizza Diameter||12"||13"||14"||12"||12'"|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Cuisinart Alfrescamore is designed very much in the same vein as their portable gas grills — sturdy, easy-to-use, and reasonably powerful relative to their 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 — and safer — for the inexperienced to load pizzas, and to clean both the stone and oven at the end of the night. 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!)
This is one of the few ovens included in this review that isn't advertised to be a Neapolitan-style pizza oven, using high-fire temperatures to cook pizzas in less than 90 seconds. Instead, this oven is marketed as capable of producing pizzas "in as little as 5 minutes," and that's exactly what we found in our testing. It is this toned-down approach that makes the Alfrescamore so approachable for those just firing up their first pizza oven.
This gas oven takes between five and seven minutes to cook a pizza, 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 easier, it is important to remember that you will release internal heat vital to cooking every time you lift the lid, which will obviously increase reheat times between pizzas.
After a standard preheat time of 15 minutes, this oven is capable of reaching temperatures near 575°F, but only if you operate without lifting the lid. Otherwise, normal procedure — including lifting the lid to check on the status of the pizza — 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 kit. 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 allows you to easily 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 normally 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 commensurate 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 quickly recover this heat loss — 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 a nice job working in conjunction 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 is able to consistently produce quality pizzas without much fuss. And unlike other ovens that require you to constantly monitor and turn a pizza 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 would greatly 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.
Please don't let the relatively low score this oven received dissuade you. Even though it doesn't have the same capability of 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.
For those used to the accessibility of a gas-powered grill, but who are 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, with lower fire temperatures that allow you to hone your craft while still producing quality pizzas each and every time.
— Aaron Rice