Most coal-fired pizza ovens require daily maintenance to keep their fuel burning evenly and the pizzas baking evenly. This doesn’t require much, merely a few fresh shovels of coal and a quick dusting of the oven floor. But Lombardi’s in Soho steps it up a notch with an annual multi-day shutdown, complete with brickwork and insulation fixes. Over the past few years, the oven has had interior issues due to its old age (the oven dates back to the late 1800’s) so a more thorough job was necessary this time around. The ceiling had become warped and misshapen, leading to an uneven heat across the hearth. The renovation restored what is likely the original arched oven ceiling shape. This curve allows for even heating and more efficient fuel consumption. Lombardi’s fired her up today and pies were coming out quite nicely for an oven that had been cold for days.
The picture on the left shows the interior of the oven as it was being repaired last year. Yes, that is me inside. Yes, the floor temperature was over 300 degrees F. Yes, I had a piece of plywood preventing me from touching the actual oven floor. No, I didn’t have a ton of room to move around. The picture on the right shows the newly redesigned arched ceiling, which allows for more even baking and plenty of room to crawl about!