Brick Oven Pizza: A Brief History of the Italian Favorite

Man preparing bread dough on wooden table in a bakery

Brick Oven Pizza: A Brief History of the Italian Favorite

NPR defines the ideal Italian brick oven pizza as crisp-crusted and fluffy-doughed with piping-hot toppings and fiery, dark spots. Many people try to recreate this in regular ovens, but you need a real brick oven to create this masterpiece.

While no one knows for sure where pizza originated, it is most commonly tied to the Italians who broke it down to a science and an art. In fact, Italians have been using brick ovens since as far back as ancient civilizations.

The Ancient Pizzerias

The oldest Italian brick ovens were first discovered in Pompeii. The brick ovens uncovered in ancient Pompeii are still in wonderful shape. You could start baking with it today with only minor renovations.

The shops where these Italian brick ovens were located resembled modern pizzerias, with granite counters, and a salad bar featuring both hot and cold foods and drinks to accompany the pizza. The ovens in Pompeii are not only well-preserved, but they also demonstrate excellent engineering skills!

The Medieval Pizzerias

When historians moved forward into medieval times, brick ovens become more spread out across Europe, including in the north. No matter how far away from Rome these brick ovens were though, they resembled the original design with the domed chamber, ideal for baking delicious Italian brick oven pizza. However, they were not always used for making medieval pizza. Serfs also used them to make bread. The serfs worked for the local lord who owned the “medieval pizzeria” and virtually everything else in the land.

As the feudal system broke up, more families found the means to invest in their own Roman-round brick oven. This allowed bakeries to spring up all across Europe, but most importantly, it allowed chefs to perfect their pizza-making craft. The smaller families who owned these ovens and put them to full use created the foundation for the popularity of family-owned brick oven pizza restaurants & pizzerias all throughout Europe & America.

The Victorian Pizzerias

The Victorian era also coincides with the great industrial revolution that began in Britain and then spread to North America and the rest of the more developed world. Industrialization dismantled and rebuilt the economy from one based on families working together for subsistence to factories employing those family members to mass-produce products.

The different cooking requirements between a commercial bakery, Brick oven pizza restaurant & pizzeria, and homeowner created a split in brick oven design in the 18th century. Small families, medium-sized pizzerias, and large commercial bakeries all had different needs and different purchasing powers.

Different cultures also began to put their spin on the new design of ovens. The primary split was between Black Ovens and White Ovens. White Ovens separated the fuel source from the food, while the Black Oven kept the food chamber and fuel source together.

The Modern Pizzerias

As the Victorian era died away with the Queen who lent the time period her name, Italy had created a new invention. By the 1970s, the prefab Italian brick oven pizza quickly became more and more popular. It created a new era of brick oven cooking in Italy that was not reserved for pizzas alone.

Over the years, several new developments followed in brick oven manufacturing, including the use of ceramic insulation and advances in the types of fuels used. Owing to these advances and fueled by the American and Italian love for pizza, brick ovens are even making a comeback in family homes.

For many people, there’s nothing quite like the REAL ITALIAN DEAL. Even so, there’s no denying that Americans have created their gourmet version of this Italian favorite. To get your fix, Andiamo Brick Oven Pizza restaurant on Biscayne Blvd is a great place to start.

At Andiamo Brick Oven Pizza, we give you an authentic taste of Italy and New York rolled into one. Check out our menu and try one of our oven-baked pizzas today.

Image Credit: Getty Images /KucherAV