The Petite Pizzeria
Can a countertop oven make a legit pizza pie?
First things first: there is no definitive answer to the question of what constitutes a proper pizza. My husband, a Midwest native, alternates between cracker-thin crusts and doughy deep-dish pies. As a New Yorker, I crave folded slices that drip with day-glo orange oil. (Meanwhile in Naples, someone with 00-flour-dusted hands is shaking their head at the both of us.)
Whatever your taste, I’m not here to judge. And neither are the makers of the Petite Pizzeria. The countertop oven promises to cook any style of pizza — whether it’s an authentic Margherita or a plastic-wrapped frozen pie — in as little as five minutes.
Think of it as a glorified George Foreman Grill. The plug-in unit, which has a clamshell design, uses electric coils on the upper and lower halves to simultaneously cook crust and melt cheese. Your only job is to choose between two inserts: a deep-dish pan or traditional pizza stone. Sounds simple, but could it really match the power of a wood-fired oven? Armed with a brand new machine, two bags of fresh pizza dough, and a healthy dose of skepticism, I played pizzaiola for a day to find out.
The machine is lightweight and operation is a no-brainer. Just plug it in and turn the dial to preheat. Within four minutes, the internal temperature registered at over 500 degrees.
The first test was a classic personal pie. Using handy wooden peels (included with the unit), I slid my hand-stretched dough onto the pre-heated baking stone and shut the lid. In three minutes, the crust was perfectly blistered and chewy.
The deep dish was only slightly less successful — at a depth of just over 1 inch, the pan is probably too shallow for any Chicago pizza devotee. Still, the pie took only six minutes to cook, and the pan’s nonstick surface made clean-up easy.
Another perk is that the machine is not a one-trick pony. It also works as an all-purpose cooking vessel. The deep dish pan worked to make a frittata and grilled cheese sandwiches, and it stood in for the microwave to reheat leftovers.
Cooks are limited by the size of the machine. While a 12” surface is sufficient for a few hungry mouths, you’ll have to make multiple pies to feed a crowd. (Quick cooking time makes up for it.)
And clumsy cooks beware: the heat that this baby generates can be a genuine hazard. Minutes into preheating the oven, a house guest ran into the kitchen to ask if something was burning. Handles on either side of the stone and deep dish are convenient for removing your pizza from the machine, but you’ll need to exercise caution when touching the actual body of the unit.
A must-buy for pizza aficionados, and a worthwhile purchase for the rest of us. Even if you don’t eat pizza regularly, the convenience of this machine might convince you to change your ways. Unless you own stock in Domino’s, you may never order delivery again. The Petite Pizzeria, $129.95, surlatable.com
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