Everyone knows that one house that has a fancy outdoor kitchen in the backyard with a built-in grill and pizza oven, right? You don’t need a huge, expensive masonry oven anymore to be the house that throws the best parties. All you need is the Forno Bello. At $1,599, it represents the best value full-size pizza oven available.
I love pizza, you love pizza, everyone loves pizza. Anyone who doesn’t like pizza needs to be seriously questioned. I love pizza to the extent of trying to perfect my pizza dough recipe while making countless pizzas at home. For years I made pizza in our home oven using a pizza stone about ½” thick, which produced good results, but never quite looked or tasted like the product of a brick oven pizzeria. I felt like I had stopped improving my pizza. That is until I fired a pizza in the Forno Bello.
I had tried other small wood and gas pizza ovens in the past, including the Ooni 2s and the Ooni Pro and while they felt like an improvement over my home oven, they didn’t taste as good as what I’ve created with the Forno Bello. Also, the pizzas in the Ooni ovens were smaller than ideal for a family-style dinner.
What I’ve learned thanks to the Forno Bello is that the best pizza is made with a real wood fire, extremely high heat, and thick refractory brick stones that absorb the heat during preheating and release that heat into the dough as soon as it hits the oven floor.
The Forno Bello is built with a 304 stainless steel dome that’s insulated to maintain the heat inside and a 29.5” x 26” refractory brick floor. The thickness of the bricks on the floor is about 2”, which is perfect for heat absorption.
The tall chimney is double-walled for less heat loss and has a built-in damper so you can control the airflow and therefore the heat in the oven. The oven is installed on a stainless steel cart that you’ll have to assemble. The cart has four casters, two of which lock, which makes it easy to move around your patio or keep in place.
The Forno Bello also comes with a bunch of accessories that will get you cooking as soon as you assemble the cart, including a stainless steel pizza peel, a wood pizza peel, an oven brush, and an all-weather cover that will keep your oven in great shape for years. There are two accessories that I would recommend investing in as well; an IR thermometer like the Thermoworks IR Gun and a round pizza turning peel to help turn the pizza while it’s in the oven.
The first thing you need to know is that the Forno Bello is a heavy piece of equipment. It weighs about 220 pounds and you’ll need at least two people, if not three, to lift it up for installation on the cart. But once we wiped the sweat off of our brows, we were excited to get cooking. First you need wood. You’ll want to buy seasoned hardwood like oak that has been dried for several months. This will give you the best heat and longevity of the logs.
I was impressed with how quickly the oven preheated, in under an hour. This is amazing compared to a full brick/stone oven, which can take over 2 hours to fully preheat. Needing to preheat that long will use a ton of wood. Thanks to the quick preheat of the Forno Bello, I’m happy to fire it up for just a couple of pizzas without feeling like I wasted too much wood.
I was worried that it would take a really long time to learn how to cook in the oven, but after watching a few YouTube tutorials, I was confident pretty soon after my first cook. My wife even commented on how amazing the pizzas tasted just on my second trial run with the Forno Bello.
What I love about the Forno Bello is that there’s enough room inside the oven for the fire as well as a large pizza plus enough room to work inside the oven that you don’t feel cramped. You could even cook several smaller Neapolitan-style pizzas at one time if you had the skills.
The cooking process is simple; you clean out any ashes left from the previous cook, light a fire, let the oven preheat, and when it’s ready, you cook! You’ll want to move the fire to the side before you’re ready to cook. This helps preheat the floor while the oven is preheating. And when you move the fire to the side, it gives you room to cook on the floor while also allowing the flames to lick up the rounded side and top of the oven to cook the top of your pizza.
You do have to maintain a live fire throughout the process, which is challenging, but a skill you’ll want to master. I wait until the oven floor is preheated to about 750 degrees before launching my pizza, which ensures a good oven spring when the pizza hits the floor.
This releasing of steam gives your pizza crust bubbles, which leads to an airy, soft interior. I confirm the floor temperature using an IR gun thermometer, which I feel is an essential accessory.
The Forno Bello isn’t just for pizzas, however, as it’s great for steak, fish, vegetables, and bread as well. I made an amazing strip steak in the Forno Bello that cooked for only a total of about 6 minutes in a cast iron pan, but had the most amazing crust on the exterior while remaining juicy and tender on the interior. It was my first try at cooking a steak in the oven and I nailed it. It’s a testament to how simple and easy the oven is to use.
If I were to have any complaints, it would be that the included tools aren’t the highest quality and that the included stainless steel peel would be better if it were a round turning peel. The included all-weather cover is high quality and protects the oven from the elements, however, due to the height of the oven chimney, it’s difficult to put on and requires me to stand on a chair to take on and off. The accessories are an added bonus to an already amazing oven, however, so this doesn’t concern me too much.
After cooking many times over the course of about a month on the Forno Bello, it’s clear to me why it’s such a simple to use, though versatile oven. It’s the perfect accessory for the backyard chef and is extremely convenient due to the fact that it’s on wheels. The tool hooks on the side of the stainless steel cart add to the convenience as you keep your tools close at hand. When you take the cost of the oven into account, at $1,599 for a mobile, full-size oven, it’s an incredible value compared to similar ovens on the market.
If you’re looking for a pizza oven for your backyard, patio, or deck, you’ve got to check out the Forno Bello wood-fired oven.
The Forno Bello Wood-Fired Oven sells for $1599; it is available directly from the manufacturer.
Source: Manufacturer supplied review sample.
What I Like: Easy to use; Large floor with refractory bricks; Fast preheat; Mobile and convenient; Great value
What Needs Improvement: The quality of the accessories can be improved