I Just Scored a Commercial Pizza Oven Stone
The Bari Restaurant Supply store on Bowery and Prince is a magical place. I take tours there all the time to check out pizzeria equipment in a place where actual pizzeria operators are buying it. The centerpiece of the showroom is a brand new oven, which was on location in the store’s manufacturing department. That makes Bari the only remaining pizza oven manufacturer in New York City.
I take pizza tours into the manufacturing area whenever it’s safe (and whenever the door is unlocked) so we can see the process from frame to finish. It’s amazing. I’ve been noticing scraps laying around recently — pieces of marble and stone destined for dough stretching tables and ovens, respectively. When I asked Patsy (the manufacturing honcho) about the bits, he said the stone was heading for the trash. WHAT!?!?!?! So I asked him to chop it down so I could fit it in my home oven and sure enough he did.
This thing is huge. It’s 1.5 inches thick, much larger than the average 0.25 - 0.5 inches of pizza stones made for the home. There’s a good reason nobody sells domestic stones this thick - it would take forever to heat it up. Most pizza stone users don’t realize that it takes at least 45 minutes to preheat a baking stone before it’s ready for use. A quick 20 minute preheat only results in surface heat, which disappears immediately upon releasing a dough onto it. The whole point of a stone is to be saturated with heat in order to conduct directly into the dough.
This stone, which is called FibraMent-D, is going to take forever to preheat in my home oven. The manufacturer actually requires users to pre-dry the stone for 7 hours before first use. YOWZA! So it’s going to be a while before I can really test this thing out. Still, I’m pretty stoked to have it in my possession. Now if only I could track down some older pizza oven hearth materials to test them head-to-head my life would be complete. Too bad the “good” ones are illegal to manufacture because of asbestos issues. Anybody got pre-1980s transite?