The Pompeiian Roots of the Brick Pizza Oven

A well-established Albuquerque, New Mexico, attorney, Geoffrey Scovil performs indigent criminal defense, with an emphasis on protecting his clients’ constitutional rights. A culinary enthusiast, Geoffrey Scovil enjoys vegetarian dining in Albuquerque and has a particular passion for brick oven pizza.

The history of using brick ovens for cooking pizza’s precursors extends to the Roman era, with some 33 ovens having been discovered among the ruins of Pompeii. These ovens were situated within retail establishments and grouped within neighborhoods that likely fulfilled the same function as today’s food courts.

The ancient Pompeii ovens had tempered two-inch thick terra cotta tile as a flooring material. The dome was constructed of bricks laid to create a sturdy spherical enclosure. A layer of mortar an inch thick encased the brickwork, trapping heat for high-temperature cooking. This represented a feat of engineering comparable to modern brick ovens that was not fully replicated for centuries after the fall of the Roman Empire. Indeed, Italian pizza ovens constructed in the countryside prior to World War II often featured stone construction instead of terra cotta and brick.

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