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Why are the dome on Naples ovens so low?

To bake better pizza.

The elliptical shape of the Naples pizza oven has two focal points, which focus the heat of the wood (or gas) fire more directly on the cooking floor and on top of the pizzas. Plus the lower distance between the dome and floor are more efficient at radiating heat from the fire down to the oven floor. The result is excellent pizza making at very high, 900ºF+ temperatures, baking pizzas with perfect leopard spots and a massive cornicione in about 60 seconds.

Structurally, the Naples style pizza oven is difficult to build using discrete bricks, because the lateral thrust of the low dome pushes the first course of upright bricks (called soldiers) outward. A curved, hemispherical dome is significantly easier to build and more structurally sound. The challenge is such that various Naples oven suppliers, most notable Acunto, use a serious metal band to hold the top of the dome together before placing on the soldier bricks.

Equally, the hemispherical dome pizza oven is also more energy efficient with its wood fire than the Naples-style oven, as the higher area of the hemispherical dome over the oven door opening acts as a heat reservoir where heat can’t escape. The lower dome loses a higher percentage of its heat out the oven door.

In summary, Naples ovens are harder to build, less structurally sound and less efficient with fuel than a hemispherical pizza oven dome—made either from brick or refractory castable, and we use them, buy them, love them, and try to build them for the sole reason that they make better pizza.