I'm not going to lie: I get sent a lot of stuff and while most of it is cool, very little of it makes me drool. Especially recently, as all that seems to arrive in my mail most days is yet another new air purifier – such as the Blueair DustMagnet, for instance. Sure, my air has never been more pure, but the excitement wears off after a while. However, last week I got sent something truly awesome, and that is why I have gathered you all here to tell you about it. The Sage Pizzaiolo is not actually new, but, long story short, the guys at Sage wanted to send me a cook-it-yourself pizza kit, to celebrate International Pizza Day – you all celebrated that day, right? I complained that I had nothing to cook said pizza in, so they sent me a Pizzaiolo!
If you want a more in-depth analysis of this wonder device, you can read Derek Adams' truly epic Sage The Smart Oven Pizzaiolo review – that's its full name. I will just say that it's one of the most impressive things I've ever been sent. It fully recreates an outdoor, wood-fired pizza oven, but in a unit that you can use indoors. And crucially, without filling your home with smoke every time you use it. I love authentic pizza and I love smart gadgetry, so I've been in hog heaven, let me tell ya.
Oh, one important note for readers outside of T3's native UK: Sage Pizzaiolo is known as Breville Pizzaiolo in the US, Australia and everywhere else. It's a long and confusing story that I won't bore you with here.
The great thing about the Pizzaiolo is that it is essentially idiot proof. Turn it on, heat it up for 15 minutes or so and it becomes a raging, 350ºC/660ºF inferno. The way it achieves this is pretty simple though: there's an old-school electric heating coil at the top and another one at the bottom, directly under a stone disk. By this method, and some clever electronics, Pizzaiolo recreates the classic cooking characteristics of an Italian stone pizza oven. You get direct heat from the stone to perfectly crisp your base, radiated heat from above to cook your toppings and convection heat, same as any oven, to, uh, cook it some more. That's not putting it very scientifically perhaps, but the end result is perfect pizza every time, in about 3 minutes.
You can buy good quality pizza dough online – the one Sage sent me was from Pizza Pilgrims via Pizza In The Post. I have absolutely no skills at kneading and working dough, so the shape of my first efforts was kind of weird. Any visiting Neapolitan would have probably been horrified that I didn't achieve a perfectly thin centre with a slightly deeper crust around the edges. But hey, for first efforts, the results were exceptional.
I was turned on to authentic Italian-style pizza by the opening of a place in London called Mercato Metropolitano. It's a thriving, Italian-run food market with an international outlook. It's also the biggest thing to happen to London's Elephant & Castle district since the Black Death. One of its core food outlets since day one has, of course, been a Neapolitan pizza stall. Now, if you're used to Pizza Express or supermarket pizza – not that I have anything against either of those things – the experience of eating 'proper' pizza, done in a wood-fired oven, is revelatory. The dough is cooked into a delicious crust, speckled with scorched 'leopard spots'. If you're not used to it, your first impression of this might well be – 'that looks kind of burnt' but it's the scorched dappling that really makes the flavour sing. It looks great, too.
Sage Pizzaiolo, I have found, recreates the same flavour and experience as what comes out of Mercato Metropolitano's vast, domed, stone ovens, despite being the size of a microwave that's been chopped in half at the mid-riff. Like I say, it's also completely idiot-proof, so long as you read the instructions. The most important thing is to flour the 'peel' – the small, shovel like thing that you insert your pizzas into the oven with – before you use it. Otherwise, as I found out the hard way, your dough will stick to it, and you'll end up having to make calzone instead. A good dusting of plain flour and coarse corn flour will save you from that fate, however. Although, to be fair, even my accidental 'calzone' – okay, amateurishly folded lump of dough with cheese and sausage in it – was pretty damn tasty.
Since those first attempts, I've become reasonably proficient at constructing pizzas. The Pizzaiolo then does the work of cooking it perfectly every time. It's a versatile beast, too. If 350ºC/660ºF isn't hot enough for you, it'll go all the way to 400ºC/750ºF. If you want a slower-cooked, deep pan pizza, it comes with a very neat pizza pan and a slower and lower preset. There's even a setting for supermarket pizza, if you are some sort of heathen. It occurs to me that at its highest heat, you could try to use it like an Indian tandoor, for rotis, naans and maybe even spicy meats. I haven't mustered up the courage to try this yet, but it's an interesting idea, right?
Another great thing about this oven is that you don't really need to clean the inside, beyond a quick wipe of the door and stone – do allow them to cool first. That's because the temperatures it gets to pretty much cremate anything left over from your previous cook. The stone does rapidly begin to scorch black but that doesn't have any adverse effects on the flavour of your pizza.
Now sure, the Pizzaiolo is pretty big and reasonably expensive – although as you'll see below, you can get some great deals on it. At its original price, it probably costs more than your standard oven does, and it's pricier than any air fryer or Instant Pot I can think of. But if you have the space and you love pizza – and who doesn't love pizza? – then it's going to be a life-changing purchase for you. There are some superb outdoor ovens in our guide to the best pizza ovens but the Pizzaiolo can be used all year around, in all weathers, and doesn't require you to maintain a woodpile. It's one of the best things I have ever tried out, in my extremely long career of getting sent cool stuff.
Sage The Smart Oven Pizzaiolo/Breville The Smart Oven Pizzaiolo: price and availability
The recommended price of the Pizzaiolo is £729.95 in the UK, $999.95 in the USA and AU$1,399 in Australia. However, as our handy pricing widget below should hopefully demonstrate, it can be found for less if you shop around. One price our bots may not detect is at Sage itself, but the good news is that Sage UK is currently selling the Pizzaiola for just £599 – £130 off RRP.