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Outtake: Best Pizza's Surplus Oven Real Estate

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[Photograph: Adam Kuban]

"That's one hell of an oven these guys are working with. Wish I could cook in something like that," said dmcavanagh in a comment on my Best Pizza review today.

What I didn't show you all, though, is the surplus oven real estate that extends into the Best Pizza backyard area. You can see it above. That's all oven, folks. Unused oven. See, that's an old coal-fired bakery oven. The back half of it, which extends about 15 feet into Best's backyard, is walled off from the portion that's actually used. (Best Pizza uses wood, too, instead of coal.)

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Frank Pepe's pizzeria in New Haven, Connecticut. That whole addition that the arrows are pointing to was built to house the joint's massive coal oven. [Photograph: Scott Wiener]

It's funny, because only days before I took the photo at top, I was talking to Scott "Pizza Tours" Wiener about old coal ovens and he whipped out a picture from the notebook he always seems to have with him. Fortunately, he also blogged about what he told me:

Frank Pepe has a huge coal burning bread oven that was built by the Middleby Company, now popular for their conveyor belt air impingement ovens found in most Domino's and Pizza Hut locations. Back in the early 1900s, they were building big masonry units that required their own structures. You can see in the photo [above] that there's an addition to the back of the building. That's where the oven lives! The chimney is all the way in the back of the building. If you look really close, you can see a vertical white line in the brick to the left of the chimney under the tree where there was a second addition to incorporate more storage space onto the property.

According to Scott, if you've got a careful eye, you can often spot these old structures, which are a telltale sign that a place either is or was an old-school bakery or pizzeria.

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