This is certainly the MOST peculiar and interesting “pizza oven” option we’ve encountered to date! What is it? Well, this little gizmo is named because of what it is – a DOME!
What does it do?
In case your curiosity is too strong for you to take the time to read through the details, here it is: The Dome simply re-directs heat that emanates from the bottom of your oven and normally swirls around the entire roof of your oven before dissipating, and concentrates the heat under its sheet metal curved dome. This heat is kept close to the pizza and radiates down to the pizza surface. The optimal temperature for creating an authentic Neapolitan thin crust pizza is close to 750˚F or higher.
- heats your oven to over 750˚F
- takes no room for storage
- costs virtually nothing considering what it delivers
- has no parts that can malfunction
- only works in ovens with certain features that fit certain criteria
We were intrigued by the notion that a piece of steel (albeit a beautiful, well-engineered product with two precisely-fitted stainless steel components) could actually increase your oven’s temperature in spite of the fact that the manufacturer of your oven says it only goes to 550˚F. We simply had to give it a shot!
When the box arrived at our doorstep, we noticed it was super thin (as expected) so it came to us quickly and inexpensively via courier! Once we opened it, we were glad to see it was well-protected from scratches and light damage by a protective tape that was applied during the manufacturing process.
The metal pieces were laser cut with precision. That was the good news! The bad news is that the protective tape was extremely difficult to remove. I work out daily in my weight room and I’m pretty strong. Even so, I was straining my biceps to remove the protective film. It was stuck onto the metal more like really sticky, vinyl tape rather than a thin protective plastic film.
After about 6 or 7 minutes of fighting with it, I was pleased to reveal a very attractive, shiny, metal sheet with a precise binding system (to keep the two separate sheets together while in use). It comes in two sheets since it would be awkward to mail as one full sheet which would be quite a bit wider than your entire oven!
When I first saw the product, my initial thought was “hey, I think I can make this myself!”. However, after about 30 seconds of examining the bends in the metal and the finishing touches, I decided that for the love of a good authentic Neapolitan pizza, I’d be happy to pay $100 for this product, and skip the hassle of trying to cobble together the materials and then engineer the details to make it work properly.
If you have lots of nice shiny sheet metal sitting around your house, and a metal bender, then you may think differently, as might I!
What Happened Next?
When I read the instructions, I was a bit discouraged when I saw that the Pizza Dome will NOT WORK WITH ALL OVENS! If it did, I’d say this product would revolutionize much of the home pizza product industry.
However, because it works buy trapping rising heat, it doesn’t do much good if your oven radiates heat from the back wall via a fan or some other convection-style heat delivery process. Guess what?! MY oven was such an oven, and because of that, it did not qualify as an oven that could effectively use the Pizza Dome!
So What Kind of Oven Do I Need?
This is an important point, and it’s really the only part of my review that bummed me out just a bit. In order to use the Dome effectively, you’ll need an oven with either an exposed heating coil at the bottom of your oven OR have open vents or slats in the bottom of your oven through which heat rises from the heating element into your oven.
Being the resourceful individual I would like to believe I am, I promptly contacted my in-laws to ask if I could use their oven which had the open vents. The very next day we invited ourselves to their house with an armload of gourmet pizza ingredients. The anticipation grew as we prepared the pizzas.
It did not help that three children under the age of 9 kept rocketing through the house yelling something about “hungry, pizza, food, please, now!” Finally, after 40 minutes of pre-heating the oven at 550˚F, we glanced at our thermometer, only to see it read 570˚F.
We thought that might be an error, so we used our infrared thermometer and got several readings from 500˚ to 625˚F. As wide as that range of readings was, all the temps were simply too low for an authentic pizza which would give us a bubbling, spot-charred crust and be done in 5 minutes or less. Our pie was done in 8 minutes and while it was good (ish), it was not authentic and it was exactly the same as making a pizza in a regular oven.
At this point, we were a little disappointed and discouraged. Was this product legitimate? Was it just a chunk of steel that did nothing at all? I thought this was probably NOT the case since the company that makes the dome would not get any business or traction in growth unless it offered a real product that did as advertised.
So, as a last-ditch effort, I decided to find a friend who may have an oven with an exposed heating coil right inside the oven itself. Surely I thought this would prove once and for all if this thing was legit! It took awhile, but I found a friend with such an oven and then, in true neighborly fashion, I invited myself and my entire family of 5 over to their house for pizza night …. on us of course!
The Final Test!
We arrived in our friends’ kitchen and started pre-heating the oven immediately at the maximum setting of 550˚F. We started making the pizzas right away thinking that the oven should be ready to go after 30-40 minutes.
Just for fun, I decided to check my thermometer (which I placed on the pizza stone which was inserted on the oven rack before we started pre-heating) after about 20 minutes of pre-heating. To my surprise, the thermometer read WAY PAST 750˚F!!! This was truly shocking since I did not expect such a high heat output from a conventional oven even with the Dome!
Worked As Advertised!
After nearly searing my forearm hair, I placed the first pie on the stone with a peel, and within 15 seconds I could see evidence of high heat on the edges of the crust, with a bit of browning. After 90 seconds, one might think the pizza was done since it had raised bubbles in the crust which were turning a dark shade of brown on top!
I left it in for the suggested 5 minutes, but in my case, that was a bit too long since the browning turned to “blacking”, and the crust was a bit more well-done than I would like. Our guests seemed to not mind either of these issues and the rest of the pies we made that night were done in 4-5 minutes.
What Kind of Thermometer Did We Use?
We had in our possession already, a wireless infrared thermometer from Amazon, and also, a small metal oven thermometer with a maximum heat reading of 750˚F. We used both for a more accurate reading. Our metal unit showed the needle way past 750˚ to the point that is was “pinned” at the end of its ability to rotate (we could only guess it was close to 800˚F or even higher).
Our infrared thermometer measured 768˚F but we knew it would be lower than our pizza would experience because we had to open the oven door and then start the process of measuring the temperature. Heat escapes very quickly once the door is opened, so the reading, in our opinion, was lower than what it would be a minute or two after the door is shut.
What About the “Vents” On the Bottom?
We were concerned about the issue regarding the open vents on the bottom of the oven. After all, the makers of the Pizza Dome insist that if your oven has those vents, it’ll work. Ours did not. What’s the deal?? I put on my Sherlock Holmes hat and re-visited that issue carefully.
I noticed something interesting. If you look at the Dome photo on Amazon, you’ll see the vents open so the heat can rise directly upward. You can even see the red-hot elements on the other side of the vents. That allows heat to go directly up into the Dome to be directed back down on the pizza.
However, the vents in the oven we used (see the photo in this review), are not only smaller, but they do not allow heat to rise directly upwards. Instead, they point towards the sidewalls of the oven, and we’re pretty sure this is why we were unable to get the heat reading we needed.
What Say We?
The Pizza Dome DOES what it PROMISES. Aside from (not) giving you an authentic wood-smoked flavor, the Dome passes with flying colors. However (you knew there was going to be a “however” right?), I do have one criticism! The reason we gave it an 8.5/10 score on customer satisfaction is that it simply won’t work in everyone’s oven. If it did, it probably would be our first perfect review score!
It will only work with ovens that have an exposed bottom heating coil, or large vents on the bottom that allow heat from the elements (hidden under the floor of the oven) to rise DIRECTLY UPWARDS. That means that if your oven is convection or does not have any vents, it won’t work, and if your oven has small vents that direct the heat towards the walls of the oven and not directly up, it also won’t work.
There you have it! The good and the bad. If your oven does not qualify for the dome (convection-style heating or incorrectly positioned vents), then even $5 is too much to spend on the Pizza Dome since it will be nothing more than two shiny chunks of steel sitting in your garage!
If you do have a qualifying oven, we’re confident that this is probably the most economical method of producing a Neapolitan pizza experience that you’ll ever find! Overall, we give this product a strong BUY rating but only if you have a CLEARLY QUALIFYING OVEN! In that case, it’s well worth the money.