For a pizzeria, a great experience starts with the pizza pie itself. But what makes a great slice of pizza — well, great?
At Wiseguy Pizza Pie, that “greatness” involves fresh local ingredients on hand-tossed New york-style pizza pies.
But there’s something else beyond technique and our shopping list — our stone deck oven.
When it comes to the vessel that cooks our pizza, we wouldn’t have it any other way. If you are curious enough to get this far in this post, we’ll do you the courtesy of explaining our preferences.
So keep reading to understand how stone deck oven-fired pizza is better. You’ll understand why we’ve chosen this oven, and how it contributes to our reputation of serving the best pizza in Boise, Idaho.
What is a Stone Deck Oven?
Also called “hearth deck ovens”, stone deck ovens are defined by their stone-lined ceilings and their use of a hot pizza stone or deck. This pizza stone could be made out of stone or ceramic, and come in different thicknesses. These stone linings use radiant heat to cook, which reflects intense, infrared heat back onto whatever is being cooked.
Looking Back at a Pre-Deck Oven World
The electric deck oven we know and love today was not always around. It wasn’t even the first deck oven invented.
From 1880, Italian immigration to the US exploded, resulting in four million Italian immigrants by 1920. Naturally, they brought all of their equipment with them too.
By equipment, we mean ovens fired by wood and coal. But while these ovens made delicious pizza, they were impractical for numerous reasons.
First, they were ginormous. These ovens aren’t like the ones you see at home, which are usually cozy enough to fit under the stove. Instead, these ovens can fill up the space of a tiny apartment or a moderately-sized bedroom.
These ovens also burned very hot. It wasn’t viable for most pizza makers to keep their ovens on all day, which could fill the establishment with dangerous, sweltering heat. So instead of serving charred afternoon slices, most pizza establishments only made fresh pizza in the morning.
Yes, that’s right. That means no Friday pizza nights, no slices of aftergame grub, and no cheesy, saucy accompaniments for your beer. Pizza was breakfast food, and only for those quick enough to snatch it while it was hot.
These ovens also required heavy-duty masonry, which also is not viable for most pizza establishments now. After all, they probably don’t have a separate room for an oven or the finances for a masonry project.
The Shift in Oven Domination
Frank Mastro, an Italian immigrant, was fully aware of all these flaws. Many others were too, but he had both the gumption and technical prowess something about this.
Mastro didn’t like the contemporary pizza-making status quo. He wanted pizza to be cheaper to purchase, easier to make, and more readily available no matter the weather outside and the hour on the clock.
From then, he made the gas-fired deck oven. He used properties of traditional oven masonry and combined it with more modern technologies, resulting in a stone-lined oven that bettered pizza production. While it did not have the infrared or vapor tubing technology of more recent renditions of the deck oven, it was transformative for the culinary community.
Massive, scorching brick ovens to the wheelable, convenient deck ovens we now know — through his invention, Mastro evolved and nearly perfected pizza’s place as street food that’s as reliable as it is delicious.
Benefits of Stone Deck Oven-Fired Pizza
Although pan baking or home baking pizzas still create delicious pies, stone deck oven pizzas are worth the effort. While stone-baked pizzas are low maintenance and easier to control, they still also create phenomenal pizzas whose taste is proportionate to the effort.
The taste beats out other pizzas by a long shot, really cementing how much of a difference baking material can make to taste even without altering the recipe. While home-baked pizza is still undoubtedly delicious, Wiseguy Pizza Pie’s use of the stone deck oven is why we are considered one of the best pizza places in Boise, Idaho — not only are we compatible against home cooking, but also against our local pizza competitors!
But how exactly does a stone deck oven work to make great pizza? How has Wiseguy Pizza Pie reached constant success and customer satisfaction? To find out, let’s explore how stone deck oven fire creates superior pizzas:
As opposed to a metal pan or baking sheet, pizza stones are porous, meaning they have small cracks and crevices all throughout them, resulting in a unique bake. That is because these cracks and crevices do two things:
- Allow steam to escape the dough as it is cooking
- Draw water out of the dough
- Not only because of the holes but also because stone material absorbs oils and moisture more easily
This escaped steam is crucial for a crispy, thin crust. Instead of being trapped within the dough, the moisture from the steam affects the entire oven. Moisture from the steam creates more aeration in the crust, which allows the crust’s outer surface to stay moist and unbaked for a bit longer.
Steam allows the crust to rise a bit longer from the top, creating space for more air in the crust. When the crust finally does bake, it is thinner than it would be otherwise. That’s because it had less time to bake, which is great. That means that the resulting crust is crispy rather than crunchy.
All this results in a drier and crispier crust that is still fluffy and chewy on the inside. Otherwise, the heat underneath the pie would interact with the moisture in the dough, creating more chance for the pizza to steam instead of bake while it’s cooking.
Stone also differs from metal through its heat conductivity — which is honestly, not as well as steel. However, stone does heat through more evenly and reliably than metal does. So while a pan-baked pizza might char more easily, stone-baked pizzas bake quickly and evenly while producing pies with superior texture.
As opposed to wood-fired ovens, deck ovens are much easier to control. Even better, electric deck ovens are even easier to work with than gas-fired ones.
That’s because of several reasons, starting with stackability. Electric deck ovens have multiple levels that users can stack, which allows cooks to make different foods with only one oven.
Users can also adjust different temperatures for these levels, meaning pasta can be at serving temperature at one level while a pizza’s firing away just below. All this allows cooks to make a diverse amount of food with one device.
Electric deck ovens also have more even heating throughout them. Traditional gas-fired or wood-fired ovens have hot and cold spots, which can lead to unevenly baked pizzas. It’s why many pizza makers that don’t use electric deck ovens rotate the pizzas around the oven.
But these ovens eliminate that need. With even heating and stable temperatures, deck ovens make a traditional pizza slice just as delicious but much more convenient to make and purchase.
Despite the work involved in stone-fired pizza making, cleaning up afterward is actually pretty easy. As opposed to other pizza ovens, stone deck ovens don’t have as many parts to consider.
Stone deck ovens don’t come with rotating trays that could complicate or bulk up the process. Anyone closing up for the day can just shut the oven doors, toggle on the maximum temperature, and then simply scrub and wipe away any residual particles on the stone.
So when you come into any Wiseguy Pizza Pie juncture, you’ll know that service is bound to be fast and efficient. Not only do our handmade pizzas cook quickly, but our oven ensures that in the event of any kitchen spills or catastrophes, it won’t take long for pizza production to pick back up.
At Wiseguy Pizza Pie, we’re not just focused on being the best pizza in Idaho. We also want to be as sustainable as we can in our operations. After all, how will we be able to eat great food and make great memories without a planet to do it on?
Stone deck ovens are particularly energy-efficient, using just enough power to run. That’s due to their three-phase electric functionality, which allows them to use exhaust systems instead of the single-phase functionality that other ovens use. Stone deck ovens also use less water because of their steam technologies, furthering their ability to reduce our carbon footprint!
Sure, we don’t mind the cheaper utility bills. But our real focus for the long run is more than about our monthly finances. It’s about making sure we do our part — about making sure that generations far into the future get plenty of chances to make food-based memories.
Whether that be over coffee, a snack, or a slice of pizza, we want to improve our reality, not worsen it. While the sustainability of our pizza ovens isn’t a part of our marketing message, it matters a lot to us and our cooks. For customers that care about sustainability and eco-friendliness, know that our pizza restaurants have quietly but diligently joined a movement for a greener planet.
Higher Btu Output
To put it shortly, higher Btu output is what allows deck ovens to reach higher oven temperatures. These high temperatures allow pizzas to cook more quickly and develop crispier crusts.
Pizzas are best baked in very high heat. That’s why you’ll see many home pizza recipes urge readers to preheat their oven to the “highest temperature possible”, even suggesting they broil the pizza for the last minute of baking. Through this instruction, homestyle recipe developers are instructing home cooks to mimic stone-fired pizza cooking the best they can.
The typical home oven cannot accommodate even half of the results a stone oven gives. That’s because pizza dough loves to bake in hot high heat, allowing the outside of the crust to cook faster than the inside.
On the contrary, baking with low heat cooks through food more evenly. But this is bad for baking pizzas since completely even and low baking will result in anemic, dry, and flat crusts. While home-baked pizzas won’t taste that awful, they won’t taste as good as a stone-fired pizza.
Perfect pizza can be achieved with the high heat of a stone deck pizza oven, which can reach up to 900 degrees Fahrenheit. Home ovens, on the other hand, usually only go up to 550-600 degrees Fahrenheit. While there are many tips and tricks home cooks can use for home-baked pizzas, the results still pale in comparison to real stone-cooked pizzas.
Vapor Tube Technology
This might sound a little space age-y, but bear with us — everything we’ve discussed so far ultimately leads back to vapor tube technology. This technology is exactly what allows the oven to circulate steam, creating a host of other benefits both related and unrelated to the bake’s quality.
Ovens powered by vapor tube technology are distinguished by vapor tubes. When in contact with indirect heat, these vapor tubes transform the water inside into steam. This mechanism allows heat to distribute more evenly throughout the oven.
Once again, this steaming mechanism also allows our stone deck ovens to cut back on energy and water consumption. So not only does our oven of choice make great pizzas, but it also allows us to serve dinner in a little greener way.
Stone Deck Ovens vs. Other Ovens
We know what we want from a pizza and what we consider a good bake is. While other pizzerias will use other pizza ovens for their pies, we truly believe that stone deck ovens produce the best pizzas. If you were curious about how they directly measure up against other ovens, we’ve got your curiosity covered.
What all these other pizza oven alternatives lack is vapor tubing technology, which anchors and defines modern stone deck ovens’ success. But there are still ways to distinguish the superiority of stone deck ovens against the rest of the pack.
Conveyor Pizza Oven
As its name suggests, a conveyor pizza oven bakes pizzas by moving them along a conveyor belt within the oven’s constant and even heat. Conveyor pizza ovens are convenient options for pizza-baking, as cooks can simply plop the pizza on the conveyor belt and wait for it to come out on the other side.
This convenience also leads to supreme efficiency. Conveyor pizza ovens churn out pizzas fast, allowing cooks to bake anywhere around 70-100 pizzas per hour. The preheat and cooking time are both also very short — 12-15 minutes and 5 minutes, respectively.
Some models even allow ovens to be stacked on top of each other, which makes pizza production even faster. These ovens are built for efficiency and perform that job very well. It’s why they’re so popular in many commercial pizza places, which might prioritize quick service over a perfect pie.
While stone deck ovens can’t pump out 100 pizzas per hour, they can still produce as many as 50. Though not as fast as conveyor pizza ovens, stone deck ovens still pull an impressive 7-8 minutes.
But even beyond production, stone deck ovens just make better pizzas. Vapor tubing technology and stone both work together to create an oven that’s optimized for a superior crust.
Convection Pizza Oven
Convection ovens circulate hot air, which heats every exposed side of the pizza. While inexpensive, these ovens still get very hot, allowing the crust to take on that iconically delicious blistered appearance. They also don’t make that many pizzas at once, making them even more of a compromise when it comes to good pizza.
But the problem is that the ovens mainly target the top of the pizza. That means while cooking, the bottom of the pizza won’t be cooked as much. So while the cheese bubbles away and the crust rises, it might taste softer on the bottom.
This isn’t great for those who dislike the bottoms of their pizza being too soft — which is most people. While convection pizza ovens are inexpensive, they’re not long-term investments. Owners of pizza-making businesses usually use convection ovens as pit stops to better equipment.
As we’ve mentioned, traditional wood and coal-fired ovens were too inefficient for pizza-making. Now, wood-fired oven designs are more updated, resulting in ovens that are far more compact and don’t let off much heat.
Brick pizza making is a much more traditional method. Even the oven itself can look rather rustic, as most brick pizza ovens are custom-made and handmade.
Loving brick pizza or not is mostly a matter of personal taste. By using wood, brick pizza ovens can infuse their pizza with woody, smoky flavors. There’s a certain brick pizza “taste” that can’t be easily replicated with other ovens.
The biggest problem with brick pizza ovens is their lack of eco-friendliness. In fact, studies show that brick pizza ovens create a lot of wood smoke, which is known to release greenhouse gases that threaten our environment.
While Wiseguy Pizza Pie is thankful for its many loyal customers, we didn’t want this loyalty to come at a cost. When families are piled into booths and Friday nights are getting rowdy, we don’t want this enjoyment to further environmental damage.
Brick oven pizza is undoubtedly delicious. People have been making brick oven pizza for centuries. But for the sake of the Earth, stone-fired pizza strikes a great balance, developing premium flavor and texture while minimizing all of our carbon footprints.
Where Can I Get Stone Deck Oven-Fired Pizza?
We could go on and on about the benefits of stone-baked pizza and how it measures up to pizza made through other methods. But that’ll be boring to customers and rude of us — rude of us to withhold the information on how to get it.
At Wiseguy Pizza Pie, all three of our locations make pizza with a stone deck oven fire. We wouldn’t have it any other way, no matter the Wiseguy restaurant. You can find our stone-fired pizzas at:
- 570 Main Street Boise, Idaho 83702
- 411 North Main Street Hailey, Idaho 83333
- 406 Sun Valley Road Ketchum, Idaho 83340
As this list indicates, we’re tightly localized in three cities in Idaho, though our point of origins is in Boise. So if you’re in town, come on over for a night of unbelievable pizza and a can of cold beer!
We’re not a chain in NYC, but that doesn’t cheapen our pizza or our commitment to making it. After all, where’d be the joy in localizing all of our nation’s great pizza in one city? We love our state and know that people in it deserve great pizza too.
By setting up shop in Idaho, Wiseguy is following through with a commitment — a commitment to diversify and evolve Idaho’s pizza scene.
Get Yourself a Slice of the Best Pizza in Boise
A slice of pizza represents all the best things — delicious food, festivities, convenience, and iconic drunk food. Whatever your reason for enjoying a slice of pizza is, deck ovens are why you’re able to enjoy pizza like you’re able to today.
At Wiseguy Pizza Pie, we strive to be the best pizza in Boise. Not only do we care about the craft, but we also want our customers to remember our pizza when they remember the good times they had at Wiseguy. So if you’re hungry, place your order — let us show you what our “best” is!