We’ve done reviews on pizza ovens enough to know there are subtle differences with each model. But when we had a chance to dig our investigative nails into the Pi Pizza Oven from Solo, we were pleasantly surprised for all the right reasons. But to get the best results from this amazing piece of portable pizza oven technology, here is what we’ve discovered.
Each pizza oven is meant to burn wood aside from adding a gas burner to keep the temperature constant. We recommend that any portable pizza oven burns kiln-dried oak wood if you prefer the standard version, but more on that later. Don’t get stuck for not having wood that will burn easily and stick with a starter pack that adds a gas burner just in case.
The oven construction is mainly stainless steel with two cordierite pizza stone inserts. The interior of this oven is designed to distribute heat exactly as you would see with a classic wood-burning pizza oven. Flames are distributed across the Demi-Dome interior to achieve higher temperatures that can reach artisan pizza oven levels of 900 degrees Fahrenheit. By itself, it’s a nice unit but would be much better with all of the extras added for convenience if you get the starter bundle.
Needless to say, it’s nice and lightweight at just 30 pounds and is easy to move around for parties and pizza cooking anywhere you like. If you go with the gas unit, that’s adding more to carry around, yet it all depends on which gas accessory you connect with it. It can also fit a 12-pizza with room to spare on the inside of the oven. The oven door is nice and wide you can use the peel to adjust your pizza while it cooks.
The performance and results are certainly worth getting a pizza cooked within 2 minutes if your oven is at the right temperature. Luckily the cordierite pizza stone stores adequate heat so both the top and bottom of your pizza come out nice and crispy. The front of the oven is an open design that doesn’t have a cover but the heat distribution helps keep heat exactly where it’s supposed to remain. This makes it easy to pop in a pizza and retrieve it all the same.
It’s a compact little oven that doesn’t take up much more space than a mini Weber grill naturally would, so it’s perfect for camping and all backyard pizza cooking. It also sits on the top of any convenient picnic table, so there is no need to worry it might be a fire safety issue. Just keep the kids from getting too close since the heat does get hot near the front. It’s nice to have the digital thermometer so you can quickly check when the oven is ready for action. All of the other accessories are a nice added touch unless you already own a pizza peel and cutter.
So here is where things get interesting when it comes to the difference between the gas burner and wood-burning options. The gas burner will achieve no less than 799 degrees Fahrenheit at the center of the pizza stone with the back of the oven averaging 820 degrees Fahrenheit. A propane attachment easily mounts onto the back where wood would normally be burned. It’s not going to be as hot as real wood but for general usage, it works fast and easily for most folks who like using propane.
To access the wood-burning area of the oven, this has a small chamber for adding wood chunks. To get the best results, each wood piece needs to be no more than 1 inch wide and 5 to 6 inches long. It can be tricky since you need to get to the back of the oven each time to add more wood to keep up the heat. The results are much hotter than propane and give you an average of 800-900 degrees that will cook pizzas faster. Because of this, you need to adjust the pizza more often so it doesn’t burn.
It’s also important to mention that the top of this oven does get pretty hot, so adding a silicone cover will reduce the chance of getting burned by accident. The exterior of the oven is remarkably cool at just 90 degrees Fahrenheit when the oven heats up so only the very top of the unit gets really hot. As far as price, you can beat this kind of deal if you’re looking at a portable pizza oven for no more than $500 for a wood-burning model. The propane burner accessory is extra unless you purchase this upgrade version.
Based on our experience with this oven, we would have ranked it in our top spot in our ‘Best Ovens Under 500‘ but we weren’t willing to knock off the Ooni pizza oven as we reserved our top spot for value and practicality over performance. With that said, if you decide to purchase the Pi Pizza Oven VS the Ooni Frya you’d be getting a better all-around pizza oven.