For much of my adult life, if the term 'brick oven' was used, it was likely in relation to that Greenwich Village institution, John's Brick Oven Pizza on Bleecker Street. This was, to my youthful, undiscriminating palate, the ne plus ultra of New York pizza, and a staple in my then, '20 something' ,diet. I could never have imagined having an urge not just to make pizza myself, but to install a brick oven in my own back yard.
Fast forward 20+ years and my wife and I are giddy with excitement at the prospect of building a brick oven, or more properly, a wood fired oven, on our back patio. I wake up a 3am and think about the possibilities. This compulsion took root after a visit last fall to my wife's cousin's home in upper Bucks County. Cousin Mike is a very handy guy to the point of having designed and built his own home, in addition to maintaining a fleet of antique Italian sports cars. So designing and building a pizza oven for his wife Judi, a gifted chef, was a delightful diversion and no small feat of engineering. Fortunately for me, he took copious notes and documentary photographs.
This is the point at which, in the interest of full disclosure, I'll admit that I will not be building this thing myself, my role will limited to that of design supervisor. Our gifted mason, Martin Smith, will be bravely undertaking this project in the hopes that the aesthetics of the finished project will be in sympathy with the rest of the stonework on our property. Martin feels confident, after studying Cousin Mike's notes and photos, that he's up to the task. The big question is whether we go with a traditional hand built brick oven, or get the components from a outfit called Forno Bravo, which sells all sorts of wood fired ovens, both residential and commercial. I'm leaning toward a kit from Forno Bravo.
Below are some of the inspiration photos we've collected and they give an idea of what the finished product will hopefully look like.