August 2022 update: I no longer recommend this pizza oven. At least until Stoke decides to change its regulator or go back to the drawing board in order to engineer a pizza oven with a better way to cook the bottom of the pizza. As is, the stock regulator is no good and the design of the wall in the back is troubling.
In the original review, I mentioned Stoke recommending a different regulator. Well, after one use, my burner went out as a wire was burnt up from the power of the new regulator. I contacted Stoke, they sent a new burner. After one use, the same thing happened again. I suppose the regulator that they recommended to me was simply too powerful for the neighboring wires in the burner.
I’m sad over it. I was excited to continue using the oven, but at its current state, I can’t even fire it up.
In recent years, I have used multiple outdoor pizza ovens. From the Bertello to the latest Blackstone pizza oven conversion kit, it has been fun jumping into the backyard pizza oven game by learning new techniques to cook up pies. I was given the opportunity to try out the 13″ gas-powered Stoke Pizza Oven this month, and because I enjoy giving new culinary gadgets a try, I couldn’t wait to give it a shot.
For the purpose of full disclosure, I am an affiliate with Stoke. They are a brand new company entering the world of pizza ovens and are seeking out brand ambassadors in order to grow the brand. If you have a formidable social media following in the realm of grub slinging, you can reach out to be an affiliate. As a result of this, I received the 13″ Stoke gas pizza oven, a peel, a pizza cutter and a care package from DeLallo Foods featuring flour, pizza sauce, pesto sauce and a stick of pepperoni.
Otherwise, right now — as of the time of this posting — you can purchase their ovens at a discount for their Father’s Day sale. The gas pizza oven that I am using is $345.99 and the 16″ gas pizza oven is $475.99; they also offer a $345.99 wood-powered model that is fueled by pellets. These are $100 discounts until just after Father’s Day.
Regardless of my partnership with them, I am bound by honesty. I only use products that I believe in. I hold such products to a standard, because if I think something is not up to par, it will not be part of my outdoor cooking arsenal. There was a glaring issue which was subsequently corrected when I first received my oven, and I will cover that.
The average brand ambassador will shill for a brand without question; a great brand ambassador will provide quality feedback paired with constructive criticism for a brand in order to promote growth and progressive improvement of a product or service.
First Impressions of the Stoke Pizza Oven
While awaiting the 13″ gas pizza oven, I couldn’t help myself but read up and research what other people were saying about it.
If you peep the Amazon reviews, you’ll be a witness to a mixed bag of thoughts. One glaring complaint that avidly made the listings in the negative reviews of the Stoke Pizza Oven is that the stone doesn’t get hot enough. This instilled some doubt in my mind as I awaited the pizza oven. Furthermore, there is only one comprehensive review of this oven on YouTube, via RodrickViews. He backs up the negative reviews showing proof that the stone simply was not getting hot enough to cook the bottom of the pizzas. He heated the pizza oven for over two hours and the temperatures of the stone were never exceeding 400.
I noticed in all the Stoke Pizza Oven promotional videos, nobody was showing the undercarriage (bottom) of the pizzas. Stoke wasn’t nor was anybody else on social media. That is concerning, considering that the browning of the bottom of the pizza is inarguably the most important part of a great pizza asides from the leopard spotting of the rim (outer crust).
When I received my oven, I set it up immediately to test it out. I was already expecting the stone temperatures to be low after the aforementioned research. The first thing I noticed when I unboxed the oven is that the stone itself is rather thin. I’m thinking of eventually replacing it with a pizza steel.
For a test, to see if I experienced the same issues as everybody else, I fired up the oven. After 45 minutes, the stone was only reaching a maximum temperature of 472 degrees in the back of the oven. What separates the design of the Stoke Pizza Oven from, say, an Ooni, is that there is a big wall that stands between the flame and the stone. I suspected that the wall was being used as too much of a buffer for the flame, which was preventing the stone from reaching higher temperatures.
At this state, the oven is completely unusable. You cannot expect to cook a good Neapolitan style pizza when the stone temperature is between 350-400 degrees.
I reached out to Stoke and explained that the stone was not getting hot enough. Within an hour, Stoke responded to my email and explained that it is a regulator issue, and they recommended a different regulator from Amazon.
I wound up purchasing the new regulator, but I was still skeptical. However, asides from that, I was impressed by the customer service given the response within an hour of sending out the email. This was even in the evening, past 7pm.
First Cook With the Stoke Pizza Oven
Once I made up some dough and had the new regulator in possession, I gave it a go. I had never used a regulator with a PSI gauge before. I followed Stoke’s instructions to merely go with a 1.5 setting, barely above 0 on the gauge.
The results? The flame was roaring. It is now such a strong flame that it rolls underneath the stone. Within 15 minutes, the back of the stone was reaching 650 degrees. At 30 minutes of heating the Stoke Pizza Oven, the back of the stone was at nearly 900 degrees.
I was ready for some pizza. I had five dough balls made up, and my quasi-nephew was hungry for a slew of pies.
My first attempt using the Stoke Pizza Oven was with a pizza featuring salami with a pesto sauce base.
As you can see, it was a rousing overall success. There is actually color on the crust. If I had used the stock regulator that came with the oven, I wouldn’t have achieved any browning whatsoever on the bottom of that pizza despite the top of the pizza looking nice. That is the qualm I have with Stoke’s marketing team and some of the current ambassadors at this time: the top of the pizza will look great with the stock regulator, but the bottom will not. With the new regulator (at the proper, safe settings*), the bottom will cook like a dream.
The final pizza, after a few basic pepperoni pies, was a pseudo-Margherita pie in the Stoke. It was my favorite of the bunch, without question, as an unabashed fan of the simple style of pizza.
The original issue I had with the oven was resolved. The new regulator corrected the problem that would have occurred with the stock regulator. My recommendation to Stoke Stove is to begin sending these gas pizza ovens out with a new, powerful regulator, because at the time of this writing, the stock regulator is terrible unless you are a fan of pale, white crusts with zero browning nor flavor. I’m a straight shooter and that is simply a fact at this time.
It is a simple request of Stoke Stove to do this in the future, because a typical consumer should not be expected to receive a new oven with an underpowered regulator out of the box. I had no problem buying the recommended regulator, because of the fact that I was gifted the oven as a partner with the brand. However, if I had spent the money to buy the oven, I would have been miffed.
Furthermore, the pizza stone should be thicker, in my opinion. I am worried of the durability, but the tests of time will reveal how long it will last. Again, I may replace it with a steel.
I’m loving this Stoke Pizza Oven after the regulator change. I can’t wait to have the opportunity to throw down some more pies with it, because you can’t beat cooking up restaurant-quality pizza in your backyard.
Final Thoughts: Should You Buy a Stoke Pizza Oven?
Even with my complaints, from the big one (the stock regulator being subpar) and the rather inconsequential one (the stone being a bit thin), I highly recommend the 13″ gas-powered Stoke Pizza Oven, but it is imperative that you replace the regulator for a properly cooked undercarriage of a pizza.
Even with the purchase of a new regulator along with the oven, the Stoke Pizza Oven (with the current sale pricing going on) is cheaper in price than other brands like Ooni or Gozney.
I may be an affiliate with Stoke Stove, but again, I refuse to use products or services I do not believe in. All of the opinions expressed in this post are of my own subjective opinions backed by anecdotal experiences and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts of anybody else. I will never blindly recommend something if I do not personally think it is up to par.
I have not yet tried any pan pizzas in my Stoke Pizza Oven, so that will eventually be a test soon enough. However, I am already loving the hand-stretched Neapolitan pies I have cooked in it, and also once again, I can’t wait to have the time to make more pizzas with the Stoke.
I now have an appreciation for the high wall in the back of the oven, because I suspect the pan pizzas are going to be incredible when I do cook them, as cooking with the heat setting on low and the high wall will provide enough of a buffer for the time needed to cook a pan pizza all the way through.
Stoke Stove is brand new to the game of the outdoor pizza oven frenzy. I do not drone on and on over the stock regulator in order to be a menace but to provide the feedback needed for the company to grow. I fully believe that there will be changes in the future simply based on what I see from the customer service being top notch regarding feedback and complaints. In a year from now, my qualms about the stock regulator may be irrelevant. Who knows?
In your search for an outdoor pizza oven, definitely give Stoke a priority in your considerations. I will be posting recipes in the coming future that will pair fantastically with a Stoke Pizza Oven.