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Fritti brings in the big guns for new pizza oven

Stefano Ferrara building Fritti’s new oven.  Photo credit: The Reynolds Group

Stefano Ferrara building Fritti’s new oven. Photo credit: The Reynolds Group

Ask any true pizza fiend about the most important elements to making a great pie and you are sure to get a range of answers: Some will say that it is all about the water used in the dough, others will say that you can’t have a great pizza without the right tomatoes or the right mozzarella. But none would argue that you can’t make a great pie without the right oven. And in the world of Neapolitan pizza, there is one man whose name you want across that cast-iron door: Stefano Ferrara.

Ferrara, the third-generation owner of the Naples based brick oven maker Uno Forno, is a certified rock star in the pizza world. So, when Fritti chef/owner Riccardo Ullio found himself in need of an oven upgrade, he decided to spring for the best.

Though Fritti won’t be the only pizza shop in town to sport a Ferrara oven – the soon-to-open Double Zero Napoletana on Roswell Rd. shipped in a pair of pre-fabbed Ferrara ovens last month – Fritti is the only restaurant in the southeast to fly Stefano Ferrara himself in to hand-build their oven, brick by brick, on site.

So, what is the big deal?

I spoke with Ullio and Ferrara earlier this week – with Ullio acting as translator – on the final day of construction before Stefano returned to Italy, and I could hear the excitement in Ullio’s voice. Not to trivialize the purchase, but he sounded like a kid that had just opened the best Christmas present ever.

Volcanic ash used for mortar. Credit: Riccardo Ullio

Volcanic ash used for mortar. Credit: Riccardo Ullio

Without getting too technical about it, the difference comes from the materials and craftsmanship. This monster of a wood-burning oven called for 13,000 lbs of building material, all imported from Italy. Ferrara uses Santa Maria bricks from Campania and Biscotto di Sorrento, and instead of sand he uses volcanic ash from Mt. Vesuvius. Why volcanic ash? Because of its refractory properties. The magic is in the heat retention.

Once the oven has finished curing – a process that should take a little less than 2 weeks from now – the new oven will not only burn at 1,000 degrees, but it can stay at that temperature all day long. The oven can hold up to 4 pizzas at a time and, at that temperature, they will cook in less than a minute. That means that Ullio’s new oven can crank out over 800 pizzas in one night.

Here are some shots of the build in process:

Ferrara Fritti oven2

Credit: Riccardo Ullio

Credit: Riccardo Ullio

Credit: Riccardo Ullio

Fritti

309 North Highland Ave., Atlanta, 404-880-9559, www.sottosottorestaurant.com

- By Jon Watson, Food & More blog

35 comments Add your comment

Hungry Gringo

April 22nd, 2011
8:21 am

Nom nom nom nom nom!

songbird

April 22nd, 2011
9:02 am

No wonder Ullio likes hot yoga. A 1000 degree oven. Wow.

DW

April 22nd, 2011
9:19 am

But after all this fancy hoopla are they still going to serve you a whole pizza without cutting it?

Rick

April 22nd, 2011
10:14 am

Still going to be hard to beat Varasano’s. I think Jeff Varasano makes the pizza in Atlanta

Tammy

April 22nd, 2011
10:40 am

All the fancy ovens in the world don’t make up for servers with piss poor attitudes. Perhaps Fritti should look at hiring girls other than sorostitutes.

Jake Ryan

April 22nd, 2011
2:17 pm

No wonder your redneck city’s economy remains in the toilet…you are all such a bunch of anonymous haters….

Bob J

April 22nd, 2011
2:38 pm

Why do people post comments online they would never have the nerve to say face to face? Papa Johns??? And for DW, that is how pizza is served in Italy. Atlanta has a long way to go. Congrats Riccardo!!!!

Brian S. Wells

April 22nd, 2011
4:07 pm

Dear Jake Ryan,

If we are such a redneck city with an economy in the toilet, why do you care to read up on our news? Don’t worry about answering because I personally don’t care to hear the response…If you don’t like Atlanta, go read your local paper. If atlanta does happen to be your local paper, please move.

Go fritti! Love the pie’s here!

Good Food Eater

April 22nd, 2011
4:08 pm

DW…..they now offer to slice your pizza for you. Now what?

GadgetGeek

April 22nd, 2011
4:25 pm

Congratulations, does the pizza floor rotate or do you move the pies around ?

JohnthePieman

April 22nd, 2011
4:40 pm

I would love to run this one! The oven at Davincis in Athen’s rotated with a slide down door. This looks like you simply move them in and out instead of around. At 1000 degrees, and cooking in about a minute you simply have somebody “working the door”… with a wet cloth on the back of their neck and a beer or soda close by. You can loose a lot of weight working this position!

I also worked at Jagger’s, Everybodys, Pizza Ring as well as a few other themed restaurants. Pizza making was always my favorite!

Ron E

April 22nd, 2011
5:06 pm

sounds like a extra extra extra large big green egg.

Intown

April 22nd, 2011
5:23 pm

looking forward to my next visit to Fritti!

Michael

April 22nd, 2011
6:07 pm

Antico Pizza is the closest thing I’ve tasted in Atlanta to real Italian pizza. Heaven. Might have to drive all the way into town to get one, now that I think about it….

Dave The Pizza Eater

April 22nd, 2011
6:15 pm

Pizza did not come from Italy. What are we talking about here. Wait a minute. I’ve had pizza made in one of these ovens. Roll over Beethoven.

KJ

April 22nd, 2011
6:15 pm

“you are all such a bunch of anonymous haters….”

ohhhhhh the irony….

Vernon Dozier

April 22nd, 2011
6:20 pm

I do not need some imported oven from Italy. Baby Tommy’s on 41 just south of the Big Chicken is the best pizza pie in town!

VickiF

April 22nd, 2011
7:23 pm

They do cut the pizza for you at the table, if you like, by the way.

Scott Anderson

April 22nd, 2011
7:30 pm

Even though they dont make pies I would just like Matthews in Tucker to maybe start something new rather than the same old same old.

And please stay open on the weekends so I can go to breakfast or lunch on the weekends. That schedule closing during the week just stinks.

Get some new chefs in there as the food is too bland and too much grease.
The deserts are not good.

Come on your in the south. Pecan pie and banana pudding are staples. At least dont use can ingredients.

Did I mention I would like Mathhews to make Pizza pies !

cj

April 22nd, 2011
8:22 pm

Congratulations Riccardo! You are the only person capable of delivering to Atlanta true Naples Pizza made in accordance to DOC guidelines (Denominazione di Origine Controllata). Let the Wal-Mart crowd take their comments and continue to eat at pizza feedlots as that will leave more room for us to enjoy a true Naples experience. Best Luck!

Steve

April 22nd, 2011
8:44 pm

I have never been to a restaurant that can cook a pizza in 1 minute. I am guessing that is a bad thing reading this article. Most of the ones I have attended are either chains, or one-offs that opt for the standard metal beast ovens. Only occasionally have I had a brick oven style pizza and my guess is they were low budget types and I just didn’t know.

I have ALWAYS preferred the flavor in brick over pizzas, so I will have to give this one a try in the future. There are never enough good pizza joints.

Winston

April 22nd, 2011
10:23 pm

I want to go to there

Just_Me

April 23rd, 2011
6:21 am

We are regulars at Fritti.

1. They do cut the pizzas…and, have always asked if we wanted them cut (we’ve been going for years.).
2. The servers-male and female-always greet us with a smile. Calling them “sorostitutes” is stupid.
3. Best pizza I’ve had since leaving NYC,.
4. How is it bad to have the pizzas cooked in 1 min? As it is, they come out pretty fast..and they are GREAT.
5. Fritti makes the best pizza in the metro. Hell, in the entire southeast. And, we LOVE the staff. (It’s the outdoor lighting in the covered patio at night we aren’t too fond of!)

Sean M

April 23rd, 2011
6:57 pm

ah hells no on the pizza cutting. that’s recent. I had asked before and got shut down. but they will now. you were getting special treatment.

Hugh

April 24th, 2011
3:12 pm

I was in the Navy for 11 years, visited Naples many times. The best pizza I got there was disgusting. Why do people gush over the prospect of “real Italian pizza?” It was soggy, thin and the olives still had the pits in them and hardly any toppings. Not exactly what I would call appetizing.

I too will stick with Papas Johns or Pizza Hut or Domino’s…

artyc

April 24th, 2011
6:43 pm

Atlanta still has the most terrible food in the country, no matter what people say,
they are 15 years behind the rest of the world.

smore

April 24th, 2011
7:11 pm

sounds like there is a price increase on the horizon!

rocky balbano

April 24th, 2011
7:48 pm

adrian! where’s my ‘za

jdawg

April 24th, 2011
9:40 pm

I recently met a friend there, and he explained to me that it was the best pizza he had ever had, aside from his 3 month trip to Italy in the early 90’s. I found the pizza to be good but by no means the best I had ever had, and the service was horrible. I’m not talking about someone smiling or kissing my backside. I’m talking about the most basic of waiting 10-15 minutes after your beer has been exausted before you get another. And I mean like more than once in the course of a 2 hour meal for 4 people. I’ll put it this way. I always tip 20+ percent anytime I eat, unless the service is just not good. I tipped 12% there on purpose. I wouldn’t advise a person not to eat there because it was so bad, but it is definitely not in the category of the best of the best. Maybe the new oven will help.

Chief Wiggum

April 24th, 2011
11:36 pm

Wow…the ultimate in pretentiousness! Reminds me of all the Alpharetta snobs that have to have Sub Zero refrigerators, because it makes such a difference. This is going to be an “investment” (how many tens of thousands did this oven cost?) that the owner will never be able to recoup, or else they’ll charge $65 for a pizza or something. And the sheeples will fall right in, and pay whatever it costs.

Jeff

April 25th, 2011
6:12 am

Fritti is already getting a nice return on their investment. The AJC has already run 2 stories on it.

jonnymack

April 25th, 2011
9:21 am

Anyone who likes pizza should be excited by this news. I’ll be interested to see how it stacks up to Antico which is the king until proven otherwise.

BS

April 26th, 2011
8:25 am

ANTICO is and will still continue to be better!

N-GA

April 27th, 2011
9:09 am

11 years in the Navy? That says a lot!

Maybe you prefer SOS pizza…….

Lesa Elizabeth

April 27th, 2011
12:12 pm

I LOVE this place. Being Italian myself, I look for the best in the field when it comes to any Italian food. Soto Soto is over the top authentic and awesome and the pizza at Fritti… for those of you comparing to the chains. It would probably be best if I didn’t have to sit next to you at Fritti anyway… Italian tempers can get as hot as that 1000 degree oven. Congratulations on the oven and thank you for sharing the photos and info. This is the BEST pizza and that was before the oven. I LOVE IT and this is why Atlanta is above the rest on many levels.