T3 knows a thing or two about the best pizza ovens, as we spend each year reviewing and rating the top pizza makers on the market. There's more quality pizza ovens on the market now than ever before, though, so making sure you get the right one for your needs and budget is crucial. That's why we've been comparing top-rated models.
We’ve already pitched the Sage Smart Oven Pizzaiolo against the gas-fired Ooni Koda 12, and here we find out how Sage’s outrageously brilliant pizza maker fares against one of Ooni’s best budget models, the tantalisingly-named Fyra 12? Both models are designed to bake pizzas up to 12 inches but which one’s the best for your needs and your pocket?
There’s only one way to find out so let’s fire these babies up and get down to the nitty gritty.
Ooni Fyra 12 vs Sage the Smart Oven Pizzaiolo: design
In the pantheon of outdoor pizza ovens, the pellet-powered Ooni Fyra 12 is relatively small (74.2 x 39.4 x 72.6cm) and it weighs just 10 kilos so it’s easy to take it down to the beach. There is some assembly required involving the chimney and pellet hopper but otherwise it is pretty much ready to roll. The Fyra’s folding legs make this oven really easy to store over winter and I love the way it sits tall on a tabletop so the heat doesn’t damage the surface.
The electrically-powered Sage Pizzaiolo is essentially designed for indoor kitchen use though it would be perfectly feasible to use it outdoors on a tabletop if the weather is fine. The Ooni Fyra 12, on the other hand, is a strictly outdoors-only model because it burns wood pellets that make a lot of smoke. And what you don’t want in the kitchen is any type of fire because that would be a bad thing – the decor will be tarnished, the fire alarms will go off and there will likely be Carbon Monoxide in the air.
Aside from a letterbox glass window, the Sage is almost entirely clad in stainless steel and it looks very swish indeed. However, it is rather large (47 x 46 x 27cm) and takes up almost the entire depth of a standard kitchen worktop. You might not even fit it into a kitchen cupboard because the front handle sticks out. Nevertheless, if you were to leave any kitchen appliance on a worktop, then this one is a prime candidate.
Ooni Fyra 12 vs Sage the Smart Oven Pizzaiolo: performance
The Ooni Fyra 12 uses wood pellets just like some of the best smokers. This is a great way to make pizza and arguably the nearest you can get to a proper restaurant style wood-fired pizza oven, only without the associated hassle of having to brush the cinders aside to create an area for the pizza base. With the Ooni Fyra you simply load a small fuel tray with wood pellets (around £20 for 10kgs), set them alight using a fire lighter and slide the tray into the back. Once the pellets are fully alight, start slowly pouring in more pellets down the hopper tube until it’s filled to the top (you should get around 15 minutes of burn time out of a full hopper). Before slapping in a pizza, ensure the 13-inch cordierite stone is at around 400˚C and the best way to do this is with an Ooni Infrared Thermometer.
As is the case with most home pizza ovens, the highest heat in the Ooni Fyra 12 is at the seat of the flame towards the back. However, some clever air-moving science ensures that plenty of flame is thrust forward across the top of the entire stone so that the whole pizza is given a good seeing to. The chimney plays a big part in this, so ensure the flue is open when using the oven door to keep in the heat.
Like almost every pizza oven on the market, you will need to turn the pizza at least once during its short 60 to 90-second baking time or the rear end will scorch. Also, you will need to keep a beady eye on the pizza the entire time because just seconds pass between it looking slightly undercooked to being perfect. Leave it just 10 seconds longer and the rear especially will start to burn really quickly.
The Sage Smart Oven Pizzaiolo uses a completely different heating method – electricity. ‘Sacré Bleu’, I hear you scream in French because you didn’t know the equivalent in Italian, ‘electricity – for a pizza oven!!?’ As bizarre as it may seem, the Sage heating system is pretty damn faultless because it uses two red-hot oven rings above and below the stone to ensure an even bake on both sides – and without the need for turning the pizza mid-bake. I haven’t met anyone who can tell the difference between a wood-fired pizza and one made using gas, pellets or, in this instance, electricity. As long as the oven is searingly hot – about 400˚C – and a proper pizza stone is used, the pizza will display the same traits, namely a dirty looking crispy base, a towering crust and well-cooked ingredients on top. In this respect the Sage Smart Oven Pizzaiolo ticks every box and them some.
Ooni Fyra 12 vs Sage the Smart Oven Pizzaiolo: features
The Ooni Fyra 12 doesn’t have any remarkable features of note though the front door certainly helps keep the heat in. Otherwise it’s simply comprised of an oven area, a cordierite stone, a wood pellet hopper, a chimney with an adjustable flue and a lift-off front hatch.
The Sage, on the other hand, is chock full of tech designed to make pizza baking as easy as possible. Hence, there are just three dials – a timer on the left, a pizza variety dial in the middle and a small optional browning knob on the right. The pizza variety dial is comprised of the following settings: 160˚C, defrost, deep pan (the machine comes with a pan), thick crust, thin & crispy, wood fired and 400˚C. Just select your pizza icon of choice and the oven will select the best pre-programmed ratio between the two heating elements and the recommended baking time. It also has a manual mode for those who want to fiddle with heating ratios between the two heating elements.
One of the very best things about this oven is the way the pizza stone moves outwards by about three inches when you open the door. This makes it super easy to load and remove pizzas without mishap and without burning your hand in the process – something that is all too easy to do with most domestic pizza ovens.
Ooni Fyra 12 vs Sage the Smart Oven Pizzaiolo: verdict
Both of these ovens produce excellent results but the Ooni Fyra 12 requires more input by the user simply because it runs on a fuel that requires constant refilling. The Sage requires no such input at any time so it’s generally faff free. Also, you are unlikely to burn yourself using the Sage because the stone articulates outwards when you open the door and the outer casing is only radiator hot rather than third-degree burn hot. However there is one giant caveat with the Sage and it’s the price. No question, £700 for a pizza oven that you may not use as often as you think is one hell of an outlay. That said, you might not find an easier, more consistent all-seasons pizza model that performs as well as this one does for any less.
The Ooni Fyra 12 by comparison is way less than half the price of the Sage and, with a bit of practice, produces pizzas easily on a par. At just £249, this is one of the cheapest ovens on the market but it’s no less efficient. You just can’t bring it indoors, that’s all.