In this series, we’re exploring various types of pizza – from crackery thin Milwaukee style pies to Chicago-style deep dish – and sussing out the secret sauce behind each one. View the full list of features in the Knead to Know series here.
Wood-fired ovens have been an integral tool in pizza making since the very first Italian pizzaiolos introduced pizza to the world in the 1700s. For that reason, there are purists who believe that a pizza isn’t “true pizza” unless it’s baked in a wood-fired oven. Suffice it to say, wood-fired pies are distinctive, hand-crafted works of edible art.
While every restaurant has its own approach to wood-fired pies – from the style of dough and type and amount of toppings – the common denominator is the oven. A traditional wood burning oven is made of a heat-conductive material such as brick, clay or concrete and fueled by wood.
While a typical oven only reaches about 500 degrees F, a wood-fired oven can reach temperatures of 800 degrees F or more. In terms of cooking a pizza, this means that it will take mere minutes to cook an entire pie to crispy, bubbly perfection. Because the cooking process is relatively quick, your pizza will not be imbued with a discernibly smokey flavor, but – depending on the choice of dough – you’ll often get a pizza that’s doppled with bits of char, lending the pie a unique flavor.
To learn more, we headed to Sorella where they use their wood-fired oven for a variety of dishes, including their delicious pizza. [Video: Courtney Bondar]
Five more options
Curious about other places with wood-fired pizza? Here are some additional spots to try:
515 E. Wisconsin Ave., Oconomowoc
Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club.
When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.