new york pizza is going electric

Jun 21, 2024 | pizza news

Something is changing about New York City’s pizza. It’s not the continued farmers’ market-ification of ingredients, nor is it the ever-expanding definition of what can go on a pizza (ham and horseradish cream, anyone?).

Instead, the ovens themselves are in transition. Some of New York City’s most accomplished pizza makers have seen the writing on the wall: gas isn’t getting any cheaper. Wood- or coal-fired pizza ovens, long-revered as the gold standard, are increasingly rare. And now electric ovens — once mocked as an Easy Bake cop-out — are on the rise. The switch, pizza makers from across the city said, is a chef’s choice: electric ovens can get almost as hot as a wood or coal oven, which can burn at approximately 450 degrees Celsius, but in the lunch rush, when employees must repeatedly open and close the oven door, pizza makers say electric ovens retain their heat better than their gas-fired counterparts.“We found out the really hard way that these gas ovens, even these behemoth giants that are supposed to be like these Rolls-Royce machines, they can’t keep up with a busy pizzeria,” said Noam Grossman, an owner of the Upside and Norm’s pizzeria mini chains. “They lose too much heat.”
Now it seems most traditional pizza places won’t have a choice. After a years long delay, a citywide ordinance went into effect on April 27 that requires wood- and coal-fired oven users to make expensive upgrades to curb particulate matter pollution. But many cannot justify the cost of making the change. “These types of places are going to disappear — guaranteed,” said Paul Giannone, who owns the wood-fired pizza restaurant Paulie Gee’s in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, and paid $20,000 to upgrade his ovens. “The history of pizza is wood,” said Anthony Falco, a consultant who has worked with clients across New York City and the world. “And the future is electric.”