Mont Alpi Portable Review
Pros: Aesthetic, large and versatile, easy to operate
Cons: Lower average internal temperature, lack of insulation, long preheat times
Manufacturer: Mont Alpi
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Mont Alpi Portable
$275.00 at Amazon
$250.00 at Amazon
|$300 List||$130 List|
$129.95 at Amazon
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|Pros||Aesthetic, large and versatile, easy to operate||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||Hinged lid for easy access, accurate thermometer, burner design produces quality crust, includes pizza peel|
|Cons||Lower average internal temperature, lack of insulation, long preheat times||Bulky, heavy, slow to preheat||Dangerous flame blowback, awkward attachment of the gas adaptor||Heat profile depends on oven, heavyweight||No handle requires hot mitts to operate lid, issues with temperature control, exposed gas components|
|Bottom Line||A large-bodied, versatile option that flaunts the good looks of much more expensive pizza ovens||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||An easy-access, flip-up top combined with a simple gas burner make this an appealing entry-level pizza oven|
|Rating Categories||Mont Alpi Portable||BakerStone Original||Bertello Outdoor||NerdChef 3/8" Steel...||Cuisinart Alfrescamore|
|Cooking Performance (30%)|
|Output Power (30%)|
|Ease Of Use (15%)|
|Specs||Mont Alpi Portable||BakerStone Original||Bertello Outdoor||NerdChef 3/8" Steel...||Cuisinart Alfrescamore|
|Fuel Type||Gas||Gas||Gas, Wood (w/ conversion)||n/a||Gas|
|Power Output||12,000 BTU||25,000 BTU||Not listed||n/a||15,000 BTU|
|Size of Firebox||n/a||n/a||97.5 cu. in.||n/a||n/a|
|Average Stone Temperature||623°F||732°F||777°F||686°F||589°F|
|Footprint||306 sq. in.||345 sq. in.||301 sq. in.
441 sq. in. (w/ gas attachment)
|228 sq. in.||432 sq. in.|
|Maximum Pizza Diameter||12"||13"||12"||14"||12"|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Mont Alpi is a miniaturized — or table-top — version of larger, more powerful, gas-fired pizza ovens. The full stainless steel frame houses a single, 12,000 BTU burner situated below the 12" pizza stone. Relative to other designs, the most obvious difference with this oven is the oversized front door — measured at 107 square inches, it is more than double the size of other oven fronts. This detail alone makes it more of a versatile oven, and one that is certainly not confined to only baking pizza.
The shape of this pizza oven really sets it apart from the majority of the pack. Instead of the sleek designs that seem ubiquitous amongst modern, portable pizza ovens, the Mont Alpi has a higher vaulted ceiling more akin to a Tuscan-style barrel vault oven. In fact, the 1.13 cubic-foot chamber of this oven is nearly double that of other ovens we tested.
As a result, you may imagine that it takes longer for this oven to heat up than others — and you would be correct. A 5-10 minute preheat will get the internal temperature up to an average of 630°F, but it is going to take more like 20-30 minutes to pull the pizza stone temperature up to an average hovering around 575°F. While it is duly capable of producing golden-tinged, thin-crust pizzas in 5-7 minutes, it takes nearly that same amount of time to recover those ideal New York-style temperatures in between firing pizzas.
The lack of insulation incorporated into the stainless steel construction of the Mont Alpi is a curse, but the inherent reflectivity of stainless steel is at least a bit of a blessing. Even without a thicker oven body, the heat radiated around the chamber settles comfortably around 500°F during normal operation. This won't be hot enough to cook Neapolitan-style pizzas, but it is certainly enough power for low- to mid-fired pizzas, like a Detroit- or New York-style pie.
The largest benefit to the power of the Mont Alpi oven is the positioning of the U-shaped burner directly underneath the pizza stone. This means that the loss of internal heat isn't as detrimental as it may seem. Instead of having to rely on the convective heat of the oven to reheat the stone from the top, its conductive-cooking capability is backed up directly by a gas burner. Unlike many other ovens that can easily burn pizzas with flames rolling over the top, you have to manage the burner to make sure that the bottom of the crust doesn't overcook first.
Beyond the lack of insulation, the fact that the door must be removed to maneuver or even check on the status of a pizza results in a significant loss of heat each time it is opened. The thermometer integrated into the door does an incredible job of accurately reading the internal temperature, but without an additional infrared thermometer, it is tough to find that optimal balance between the pizza stone and internal temperatures.
The shape, power, and positioning of the single gas burner ensures that you will always have adequate heat from the bottom — just make sure to give this oven plenty of time between pizzas to regain optimal internal heat. But to the benefit of aspiring Pizzaiuolo, there is much less of a chance that you will end up with an inedibly charred pizza while you hone your skills. That said, it will likely take time to learn the temperature tendencies of this oven before you are able to achieve pizza perfection.
Ease of Use
The Mont Alpi is much easier to fire — and much more forgiving — than other gas-fired models we tested. The position and even distribution of the heat source mean that once you learn how to manage the burner, this oven requires very little attention, unlike others that require you to constantly monitor and turn the pizza to avoid burning. And the fact that it takes an average of seven minutes to bake a pizza makes it more reasonable to fire alone — you will likely have enough time to prep, stretch, and top the next dough well before the currently baking pizza is ready to come out.
It may be obvious — based on appearances alone — that this oven is more of a pain to store than many others we tested in this review. Despite its relatively light weight, at just under 30 pounds we would be hard-pressed to recommend this bulky oven as a portable option. Rather, this beautiful oven should earn its place as a mainstay of your outdoor kitchen.
The size and shape of the oven chamber make the price-point Mont Alpi a much more versatile oven than most. Though we focused on pizzas for the sake of this review, it is one of the few we would also recommend to bread bakers. While it might not be capable of producing high-fire pizzas, the opportunity for creativity certainly increases its already reasonable value.
From pizzas to bread, the Mont Alpi Portable presents solid performance that aligns well with its value. For those who love the classic aesthetic of Tuscan ovens, there is no other option that even comes close to touching the beauty, never mind the value, of this approachable and versatile pizza oven.
— Aaron Rice
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