First, start with the kind of experience you are looking for.
Do you want an authentic, wood-fired taste and cooking experience, or just an oven?
For the best, traditional wood-fired taste, you should consider an oven designed for this purpose – and that means it should have a refractory dome and hearth. By refractory we mean it can the cooking surface and surrounding area can withstand high temperatures. Ovens with refractory parts are also designed to burn wood, providing a traditional, outdoor taste. Ovens with steel or other surfaces may be able to take the heat, but the taste may be different. They will also likely cost less.
There are many refractory ovens available, but check carefully where they are made, the quality of the construction, and the design. This last item is very important – look for a low design, so that the heat circulates within the oven, maximizing heat containment and circulation, providing a more even heating environment.
Most importantly, what you plan to cook really matters. If you want the taste of a traditional, Neapolitan-style pizza, which is a thin pizza that cooks at high temperatures quickly, then you’ll want an oven with a refractory dome.
What kind of climate do you have?
If you live in a climate with changing seasons, you’ll want to consider this as well. Refractory ovens should be made from quality materials, and include steel reinforcements to hold up with those changing temperatures.
Can it be stationery or do you need to have your pizza oven be portable?
If you are building an outdoor kitchen with a fixed configuration, and you or a contractor is providing the hardscaping, you can purchase a kit that includes all the essential elements (dome, hearth, door, refractory mortar, etc.) or purchase all the materials and build it yourself. (The latter would include casting your own dome, using a refractory product such as Heat Cast 40). If your oven is stationery, make sure the base you are placing it on a base that can withstand the weight and heat.
If your oven needs to be mobile, such as in a backyard or restaurant patio setting, consider the mobile ovens that provide casters. Be careful to select an oven that has been specifically designed for this purpose, as stability is important.
Other considerations include size – check the cooking surface to make sure you are getting what you need. If you are cooking an occasional pizza for a family of four, that’s one thing, but if you are cooking quantity, make sure you get the largest cooking surface you can afford. pizza oven, backyard pizza