Working to build a better pizza

Working to build a better pizza

Wood-burning ovens may seem a little primitive, but when it comes to Neapolitan pizzas, the proof is in the pie.

When Fritti owner and chef Riccardo Ullio decided it was time for a new oven, he contacted Stefano Ferrara, a craftsman whose family has been building old-world wood-burning ovens in Italy for more than 100 years.

"He's recognized in the pizza world as the premier oven maker, so why not go with the best," Ullio said Monday.

Ferrara has constructed ovens for Iron Chef Mario Batali, as well as for revered pizzerias such as Il Pizzaiolo del Presidente in Italy and Donatella in New York. Ferrara has been at work at the Inman Park restaurant since mid-April and customers should begin enjoying pies from the oven within the next two weeks.

Here's a quick by-the-numbers look at the work.

Number of days it took to build oven:

1 week to build; 2 more weeks to temper

Number of bricks used:

400 Tufo stones, 300 refractory bricks

Total weight of the oven:

13,000 pounds

Temperature of oven:

Up to 1,100 degrees Fahrenheit

Number of pizzas oven holds:

4

The cooking time for each pizza:

Under 1 minute

Number of years brick ovens like this are expected to last:

The base may last forever; the top needs to be rebuilt after 10 years

Number of ovens in U.S. that Ferrara has built:

10

Cost of the oven:

$18,000

Fritti is at 309 North Highland Ave., Atlanta. Visit www.urestaurants.net or call 404-880-9559.

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