How to make a pizza in the Pizzeria Pronto Pizza Oven.
With proven recipes.
Of all the grilling gizmos out there, a pizza grill is the most curious and some would think the most frivolous. Basically the Pizzeria Pronto is a gas kettle grill with stacked pizza stones inside it. If you’re thinking you could use this to cook burgers, it doesn’t work that way. You’re pretty much limited to thin pizza and flatbread, but it excels at these with its 700°-900º heat. If you’ve priced a wood-fired pizza oven, looked into building one from stone or even looked at adding pizza-making capability to your grill, you know the costs can be astronomical. The Pronto sells for $350 with legs. Get the cover and you can leave it on the deck year round.
The Pizzeria Pronto does an admirable job making crispy, bubbling 10-inch pizzas in about six minutes. Using a peel (those pizza shovels they use at the corner place) you slide in the pizza. About halfway through you shove the peel under it again and turn it. The heat of the stones is reflected from the top of the oven to melt the cheese.
So the question is: would you use it enough to justify the cost? I eat pizza at least once a week year ’round so this was a worthy investment for my porch. I also get regular requests to make fresh pita bread for gatherings. And there’s a whole world of ethnic flatbreads out there to experiment with. Your only restriction is that whatever you put in the slot of the Pizzeria Pronto has to be able to come out of its 2-inch-high slot.
Why not a pizza stone in your Weber?
You can get novel results with this, but there are many issues:
- Gas and charcoal grills can’t get hot enough. A gas grill maxes out at about 500º. A charcoal grill can peak at 650º, but only for a short time. Pizza crisps best at about 700º.
- Gas and charcoal grills lids aren’t designed to reflect heat. The Pizzeria Pronto has a heat reflector inside the top that sits low and throws heat down on top of the pizza. Grill lids sit higher and absorb the heat.
- Most pizza stones are not designed for the high heat of a grill. Oven pizza stones are designed to absorb oven heat and crisp the bottom of the pizza. When you put a flame underneath them, they tend to crack. Some stones are designed for grills, but I haven’t tried them, so I can’t recommend any. My pizza stones in my Pizzeria Pronto lasted for six years of regular use before I had a small crack.
No matter how skilled you are at grilling, a pizza oven is an entirely different beast. Here are some tips:
- Make sure the oven is up to heat. You’ll get unpredictable results and burned bottoms if you don’t.
- Everything must easily slide off the peel. Because the Pronto only has a two-inch opening the pizzas or breads must slide easily off the peel. Putting down a thin layer of cornmeal or flour on the peel will make what your breads slide off into the oven easier.
- Dough and toppings should be no thicker than 1/4 inch with 1/8 inch being optimal. You can’t easily get thicker things in and out of the oven, but more importantly, thick things don’t cook well. You can make calzones and wood-fired turnovers, but these work best at lower temperatures, like 500º and should have fillings cooked first or they could turn out raw. People often try to pile a lot of ingredients onto a thin crust. Don’t try this at home kids. These can get stuck to the peel and the result is often a fire in your pizza oven.
- Use bread flour for pizza crust. This has more gluten that gives you both crispness and chewiness. King Arthur seems to be the go-to.
- Don’t use regular pastry dough. These have a high fat content. If the fat absorbs into the stone it can catch fire. Instead use this pastry dough recipe designed for the Pronto.
- Keep liquid contained. Anything that drops out of the dough onto the stone can catch fire. Makes sure crusts don’t have holes in the bottom, that turnovers and calzones are sealed to keep the filling from trickling out.
- Avoid the wind. My porch gets a nice breeze, but gusts can disrupt the heat of the oven. I moved it to the corner that’s sheltered. If the wind can’t be avoided, look into a simple wind block, like a plywood board.
- Turning down the heat won’t stop excessive browning on the bottom. If you’re having issues with the bottoms getting too brown, turning the heat to medium or low may will require you to leave the pizza in longer and may actually burn it more. The oven is designed for the heat of the stones and reflective heat off the dome to work most effectively at 700 degrees. At a lower heat, the reflector may not put back enough heat to cook the top. The best method is to carefully monitor cooking and remove when done.
- Use a thin pan. Though the magic of the pizza oven is the heat from the stone, a pan gives you the flexibility to cook slightly messier things. Note: Anything that hits the stone will eventually catch fire. So even in a pan, burgers are out since they tend to spit grease.
- Scrape and brush the stone before you fire the oven up. Residual drippings, cornmeal and flour on the top stone will all burn, which doesn’t help the flavor. Remove the lid and a grill brush and scraper will do the job nicely.
The Pizzeria Pronto is designed to cook thin breads at a heat that’s higher than you can achieve with your oven. This makes it ideal for thin pizza, pita, zatar bread and naan. Curiously the company also offers some attachments for crepes, a wok and a fryer: Just remove the lid and stones to use these.
Mine is 7 years old now. I bought leg extenders so the oven is free-standing and they’ve gotten a bit rusty. Also, the bottom plate is starting to rust. But the grill shell and burner are in great shape and the starter has never failed to fire.
I will note that the company’s service is lousy. Emails go unanswered and they always seem to be sold out of replacement parts and accoutrements.
- Dough for a thin crust pizza
- Sun Dried Tomato Sauce
- Pesto Sauce
- Pita Bread
- Manakish (Zatar Bread)
- Pizza Oven Pastry Dough
- How to add a little smoke to pastries and flatbread