SEATTLE, Aug. 24, 2015 — There’s never a bad time to throw a pizza with wine party, and now it just got a bit easier thanks to the folks at Cuisinart. The Alfrescamoré Outdoor Pizza Oven combines the heat of propane, a built-in pizza stone and a receptacle for wood chips to create that beautiful smoky flavor you get from wood fired ovens into your pizzas.
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A great crust is the cornerstone of pizza. It’s the reason why so many great pizzerias depend on wood-fired ovens with the massive stone hearths. Those stones hold the heat and the ovens get well above 900 degrees.
Years ago, pizza stones started to help create a buzz for the home pizza lovers, now there’s a Baking Steel which does an even better job than a stone. However, until now, there has not been a way to emulate the flavors one gets from a wood-fired pizza oven.
The Cuisinart outdoor pizza oven steps is a somewhat portable unit that is fired from from canister propane cartridges or a five-gallon tank using an available adapter.
Using this oven is quite simple; there’s only one control knob, which doubles as the igniter. It starts in a flash and does a decent job of heating up the stone to over 550 degrees rather quickly. There’s also a wide-enough opening while the lid is closed to maneuver a pizza-peel in and out of the oven rather easily.
The oven does a good job of creating that lightly charred crust we Neapolitan-style pizza lovers crave; however, the overall ambient temperature throughout the oven should be able to get a lot hotter to help make those “blisters” on the top air-bubbles as well.
The steel lid seems to lack proper insulation that allows it to hold radiant heat to aid in this.
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If you’re looking for an affordable, outdoor solution to making pizzas, the Cuisinart Alfrescamoré, while not perfect, has a lot going for it and does do a better job baking a pizza pie than a conventional oven.
Improvements could be made if Cuisinart used a customized steel base from the folks at BakingSteel rather than the stone. The results would likely be far better.
That said, kudos to Cuisinart for doing an admirable job of releasing an affordable oven to help elevate the home pizza experience for the masses. Once you get the hang of using this oven, you’ll likely never again go out for pizza.
Of course there are many “perfect wines” to choose from.
Here are a few selections that won’t disappoint:
Pedroncelli Winery (Sonoma County, Calif.)
2013 Friends Red blend – With its gorgeous notes of spice, vanilla, ripe berries and smooth finish, you’ll find this is a wine that goes great with most meat pizzas. $12.
2014 Dry Rose of Zinfandel Dry Creek Valley – Here’s a wine that goes with nearly anything you can throw its way and thanks to being a Zinfandel rose, you’ll find it holds up very well with zesty meats and cheeses. $12.
2013 Zinfandel Bushnell Vineyard – A classic California Zinfandel that exhibits notes of chocolate, cherries, peppercorns and some great smokiness to it. Go ahead, throw your heartiest pizza you can fathom at this one – it’ll have no problems holding up. $20.
Waterbrook Winery (Walla Walla, Wash.)
2013 Syrah – A bold wine for those who enjoy tasty new-world Syrah from one of the best growing regions in the USA for this grape. It has very bold tannins with notes of dark cocoa and hints of blueberry. A lingering finish begs you to pound this wine with reckless abandon. Goes great with pizzas that incorporate smoked meats like bacon and pancetta. $15.
2014 Sangiovese Rose – Here’s a wine that is an ideal pairing for one of the most classic pizzas going, the margarita. Flavors of pomegranate, grapefruit and cherries will stand out like sore thumbs as it cleanses your palate with each sip. $12.
Cavatappi Winery (Columbia Valley, Wash.)
Molly’s Cuvee Sangiovese – Blending 100 percent Sangiovese from two of Columbia Valley’s top-rated vineyards, Boushey and Red Willow, this wine kills it. There’s a great deal of complexity going on with notes of raisins, star anise, black plum, peppercorn, smoked beef jerky, fig, leather, black cherry and coffee. Pair this with almost any Italian-inspired pizza, from margarita to pepperoni to Italian sausage and goat cheese. $18.