The History Of Woodfired Pizza Oven Designs

Many people associate outdoor pizza ovens with the rolling hills and olive groves of Tuscany and, indeed, their origins can even be traced to the ancient Roman civilisation. In June 2023 a 2,000-year-old fresco was discovered by archaeologists in the Roman city of Pompeii, depicting a pizza-like dish at the center of a platter of fruits and meats.


A diagram of a pizza oven used in the modern day that has been developed throughout history

Woodfired pizza ovens have been an integral part of the pizza-making tradition for centuries; over time, however, they have undergone various changes in design to reflect advances in construction techniques and evolving culinary preferences.

In this article, we’ll explore the history of pizza oven designs and map the changes that have occurred over the centuries.

Ancient Civilisations

The foundations of woodfired ovens can be traced to the ancient civilisations of Rome and Egypt. The earliest designs, which were simple, dome-shaped structures handmade from clay or stone, used wood as fuel and relied on their shape to efficiently retain and distribute heat. Notably, each design was unique, with master craftsmen fashioning woodfired ovens in their own distinctive style.

The Middle Ages

In mediaeval Europe, communal ovens were common. Large ovens constructed from masonry were often shared by the community, acting as a central hub for the baking of bread and other foods. Typically rectangular in shape, these ovens featured multiple chambers and openings for fuelling and baking so that many different dishes could be cooked simultaneously.

Renaissance And Baroque Eras

During the Renaissance and Baroque periods, advances in masonry and architectural techniques heavily influenced the design of woodfired ovens. Ovens became larger and more ornate, featuring intricate embellishments and decorative elements. Often, the ovens were integrated into grand kitchens in castles and stately homes, showcasing the social status and culinary prowess of their owners.

The Industrial Revolution

The Industrial Revolution heralded significant changes to the design of ovens in Europe. Metal became a popular material for constructing pizza ovens, replacing traditional brick and stone, cast iron and steel were chosen for their durability and ability to retain heat. Metal ovens were easier to mass-produce and transport, making them accessible to a wider range of consumers for the first time.

The 20th Century And Beyond

In recent years, woodfired pizza ovens have experienced a resurgence in popularity. Modern designs – influenced by the demand for cost-effectiveness and concerns about the environment – focus on efficiency, heat retention, and ease of use. High-quality refractory materials, such as fire bricks, ceramic fibre, perlite, or vermiculite are used to maximise thermal insulation and heat distribution. Newer designs feature improved airflow systems and chimneys, allowing for precise temperature control and reduced cooking times.

Contact Us To Find Out More

If you’re a restaurateur or homeowner who is interested in creating unforgettable culinary memories, our comprehensive range features for you to create the best woodfired pizza oven designs. For more information, please get in touch with Pizza Oven Supplies.

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