Mario Batali's Lakeside Pizza Oven

20070820mariooven.jpgFrom last week's New York Times Travel section—Mario Batali and family kickin' it Michigan style. Naturally, the pizza-oven bits caught my eye. (That's Batali's imported wood-burner at right.)

Watching Mario Batali shovel a pizza topped with chopped tomatoes, wet chunks of fresh mozzarella and grilled artichokes into his crackling outdoor pizza oven, it is easy to imagine you are in a hill town outside Bologna, perhaps even in Borgo Capanne, where Mr. Batali apprenticed for three years at a trattoria. The surrounding spruce trees and the wind off the lake only add to the air of authenticity, as does the wood smoke that plumes out from the top of the brick oven and the smell of baking bread.

But, dude, get this: He's in Michigan. I know, right?

Mr. Batali’s outdoor pizza oven was installed their second summer in the house (it was shipped from Italy) and soon after, an outdoor kitchen was added, complete with a Big Green Egg, a large oval ceramic smoker in which Mr. Batali makes, among other dishes, paella. “Since I can’t cook it over a fire of vine clippings like they do in Spain, I bought this,” he said.

Yet the pizza oven is the main food focus of Mr. Batali’s Michigan life. “I will make 30 pizzas in one night if we have friends over,” he said, stretching and throwing dough into a second pizza with green olives and three peppers — one Peppadew and two guindillas. Though the children prefer plain pizzas, they once made one with barbecued sparerib meat, and Michael Moore, who was in town recently for the Traverse City Film Festival, came over for a sausage pizza.

20070820beehive.jpgOn a side note, if you've been considering aping Mario and getting an outdoor wood-burning pizza oven but can't swing having it imported from Italy—or if you can't fathom building one yourself—I just read about a portable wood-burning oven that's small and sits on a roll-about iron stand. The Beehive oven, imported from Portugal by a company out of California, runs $1,495, is 33 inches in diameter (exterior) and 25 inches tall. I checked into shipping, and it will vary depending on where you live, but the cheapest option for shipping to my ZIP code in Brooklyn was $636. I'm considering a purchase ...

Photograph of Mario Batali's pizza oven from New York Times; photograph of Beehive oven from Al Fresco Imports


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