Updated: Jun 7, 2021
Pizza ovens are gaining popularity as they are becoming cheaper to make for the home cook. No more wishing you had $15k for a custom italian pizza oven! They are portable, use easy fueling methods like wood pellets or propane, and pretty easy to get started up. You do have to store them indoors so they do not corrode, so keep that in mind.
Ooni Brand sells a variety of pizza ovens including several pellet style and 2 propane ovens. There are also a few other companies making ovens for the home consumer. If you are looking for ultimate convenience, I would go with a propane version. Pellet ovens does offer some additional flavor from the wood smoke albeit very little since the pizza is only in there for 1-2 minutes, but can impart more flavor if you are making something like seafood, veggies, or meats.
The Ooni Koda is currently selling for $329, and includes the oven, pizza stone, and propane connector. You may be able to find a deal that includes a pizza peel as well, which is a very basic one. You could skip that and buy your own that has a handle with it to make it easier to move back and forth, and to turn the pizza inside the oven.
This model features a single burner in the back, which shoots flames up towards the top and out the oven opening to create the oven effect. This means you need to turn the pizza about every 30 seconds and rotate 180 degrees to evenly cook the pizza. I like to do 3 rotations at 30 seconds which is usually the perfect amount of time for even browning.
The larger, more expensive Ooni Koda 16 features an L shaped burner so it is heating the side and back. This makes for a faster cook time and fits slightly larger pizza, but not sure if it's worth the extra $$ at $499.
This model is portable as the legs fold in, and its light enough to carry around. I have taken it to my parent's house to host a pizza night there. Everyone had their own personal pizza made fresh, and was fun to have the adults and children build their own toppings.
There is a dial in the back, which first clicks and ignites the flame, and then you turn it counter clockwise to turn down the heat, clockwise to increase the heat. The little hole to the right is designed to let you see that the flame is there, and not look at it face forward - where the flame can shoot out when it initially ignites.
It reminds me of a turtle shell. It does have good aesthetics....not that you can leave this out because its so big.
The clearance is fairly small so there is not much room for error when putting things in or removing them.
Some notable points to make is that you really need enough space outside and a tall enough table or stand to keep this so you are not bending all the way down to see inside. You have to constantly check your food so you don't burn it because of how hot it is in there. That also means everything on the oven gets VERY hot, so you have to be careful that you or someone else doesn't burn themselves on it.
It is imperative that your dough is plenty dry so that it will not stick at all when you transfer it, if it sticks at all, it will fall apart in the oven, and be more difficult to recover from. Using a peel is very helpful for this part, and shaking the pizza while on the peel making sure it slides around is a good idea. The longer you let it sit on the peel, the more hydrated the flour, semolina, or cornmeal you are using underneath will get, and make it sticky again so have your ingredients ready and work quickly. Also be sure to wait the minimum 15 minutes before adding the pizza, if the stone is not hot enough, it can stick or make gooey dough that will not cook at the same time as the toppings and overly burn it.
Dessert pizza is a great idea, but you have to think ahead on how to actually do it. From personal experience - chocolate, peanut butter, and marshmallows are not a good idea to cook in the oven with the dough. For this type of thing, it's better to cook the dough first, then add the high sugar toppings then put it back in for ~30 seconds to let it melt quickly and pull out.
+ Heats to 700+ within 15 minutes
+ Makes great pizza crust
+ Safety feature to cut off gas supply if the fire goes out
+ High heat means it 'self cleans' by burning off any residue or spilled food
+ Cool thing to take with you camping/travelling or to impress your guests
- Expensive for a single use product
*It can easily do other things if you get creative and use a cast iron pan and treat it as a broiler for amazing crispy salmon, broiled veggies, searing a steak for a great crust
- Limited headroom inside makes it a challenge to maneuver the pizza to turn it
- Takes a few tries and mistakes to get the hang of using it properly
- If you spill or tear the pizza in transit or while turning, the stone will be a disaster to clean
The Verdict: Ooni Koda Pizza Oven gets a Thumbs Up!*
*if it's in your budget to splurge on a cooking gadget