Putting the new Breville Pizzaiolo through its paces

If you’re at all active on Pizza Instagram,™ you’ve probably seen the Breville Smart Oven Pizzaiolo by now. And now you’re seeing it here.

I’ve started making pizzas like they do at Grimaldi’s—putting sliced mozzarella down first and then dolloping sauce on top. I don’t know if I’ll ever go back.

Late last year, the folks at Breville sent me a unit to test, and I’m putting it through its paces. You can pop into my “Breville Oven” highlights on Instagram for a peek at what I’ve been up to. Although I’ve cooked a few pies already in it, the pizza above is the first pie I’ve deemed worthy of blogging about.

It took me a while to get the hang of the oven, thanks to some boneheaded user error and some improperly mixed/fermented dough. But with some tips from international pizza consultant Anthony Falco, who’s been doing various Breville-sponsored events throughout the country and has cooked literally thousands of pizzas in it—and with a killer NY-style dough recipe from Mike Essen on Pizzamaking.com, I made a batch of pizzas the other week that were truly impressive.

The one pictured here is one of the best home-cooked pizzas I’ve ever made. It tasted exactly like a New York coal-oven pizza.

I’ve found that Boar’s Head deli mozzarella works well and is available at most NYC grocery stores. It’s a whole-milk mozzarella, and you can ask your deli person to slice it as thin or thick as you’d like.

The oven has two modes: Preset and Manual. In Preset, you can select from various styles, like New York, Thin & Crispy, “Wood Oven.” In Manual, you can set the deck temp and top temps separately. There’s also a knob that, in Preset mode, lets you adjust the darkness of your crust and in Manual allows you to select “Crust Only” cooking or “Even Heat.”

The machine is designed to cook ~11” pies max. There’s a round element below the ceramic deck and two concentric elements at top. The inner top element is designed to cook the cheese and toppings of a pie while the outer ring blasts the crust.

One of the most crucial tips Falco gave me was to go into Manual Mode and run it at FULL BLAST—750°F deck/750°F top temp and to really let it preheat. I’ve subsequently found that if you run it at lower temperatures, the element seems to cycle on and off too much, leading to undercooking on the crust.

Seriously, if I didn’t know any better, I’d mistake this for a coal-fired-pizzeria product.

I cooked the pizza here on 750°F/750°F, preheating on “Even Cooking” until just before launching my pizza, when I turned it to “Crust Only.” As I said, this pizza was fantastic, and having the Pizzaiolo in my kitchen—along with a stockpile of prepped dough, cheese, and sauce—makes me feel like I’m running 70-square-foot mini pizzeria out of our apartment.

Watch this blog for more thoughts on the machine as I play with it.