My Family Has Spent the Last 5 Months with Solo Stove’s Pizza Oven — It’s Been a Delicious Investment
Like so many great love stories, it happened over pizza. I was getting ready to put a pie in the oven at my friend Victoria’s backyard pizza party when I locked eyes with a tall guy with a sweet smile. It was love at first bite — I mean, sight — as we shared a couple of slices together that October evening.
Fast forward 12 years, and Seth (that pizza cutie) and I are married with two kids. We still love pizza, and now we have a new backyard pizza oven to call our own: Solo Stove’s Bonfire Pi Fire. After my completely un-subtle hints (and some very effective advertising on the Tony Kornheiser show), Seth bought me a Solo Stove Bonfire fire pit for Mother’s Day a few years ago. It was the perfect addition to our backyard, where we suddenly found ourselves spending a lot of time at the beginning of the pandemic.
Once we could safely invite people over again, we enjoyed hosting backyard parties around our Solo Stove. Anytime my kids had friends over, they’d beg to start up the fire pit for s’mores, and we spent many nights cozied up by the fire. But as soon as we added the Bonfire Pi Fire, a portable pizza oven attachment, those cozy backyard hangs turned into full-blown pizza parties. We’d invite friends to bring their favorite toppings (and wine) and catch up while firing up thin, bubbly Neapolitan-style pizzas in the oven.
What’s So Great About Solo Stove’s Bonfire Pi Fire Pizza Oven?
I’m no stranger to pizza ovens. Remember that fateful pizza party at Victoria’s? Around that time, I’d started working for Victoria’s now-shuttered mobile pizza business, Pizza Tonight. We drove a Forno Bravo mobile pizza oven to local breweries and events and made Neapolitan-style pizzas using fresh dough and gourmet ingredients. I was primarily responsible for stretching the dough and topping the pizzas, and I learned a lot about timing by watching our pizzaiolo, Evan, fire pie after pie in that hulking 900°F oven.
Thankfully, Solo Stove’s Bonfire Pi Fire is much more forgiving for at-home pies and amateur pizzaiolos, firing at about 550-600°F and completely baking a pizza in around 6 or 7 minutes.
The inverted dome harnesses the heat from the fire pit below and cooks a pie evenly from above and below the pizza stone insert at the same time. It’s easy to use and easier to clean. After the oven cools down, I use a brush to dislodge any bits that have stuck to the pizza stone and wipe down the outside with a wet kitchen towel before storing the oven in its handy carrying case.
One feature I particularly love is that the Pi Fire’s long legs elevate it far enough above the fire so we can enjoy pizza and s’mores at the same time. If you’ve ever attended a backyard pizza party, you’d know there’s a fair amount of waiting around, as you can only cook one pie at a time. It’s great to have the fire pit open below for folks who have finished their pies to be able to make a few s’mores!
It’s also a favorite feature for Deputy Editor, Kelly Dawson: “My two favorite foods are nachos and pizza — essentially, if it’s a carb with melted cheese on top, I’m going to be into it. This makes it possible to bask in the joy of restaurant-style pie from home, and I may or may not have put a plate of nachos in the heat, too. And if this wasn’t smile-inducing enough, this oven just looks cool and your guests are bound to be impressed.”
We’ve had the oven for about five months now, and if we end up dusting off our camping tents later this spring and summer, we’re definitely bringing the portable Solo Stove and Pi Fire along for the ride.
Is Solo Stove’s Bonfire Pi Fire Worth the Cost?
The entire Bonfire Pi Fire package is a bit of a splurge, although it’s in line with (or even less than) other outdoor portable pizza ovens. The Pi Fire is currently $260 during the brand’s Labor Day sale, running now through September 4, and you can either use it with the Solo Stove Bonfire ($240 on sale) or the Gas Burner attachment.
For me, it comes down to two things: cost per use and the enjoyment factor. If I think about how many uses I’ll get out of the Pi Fire (which is a lot), those numbers start to make a little more sense — especially considering the sale. This is an investment for years to come, and when I think of the hours spent huddled together with family and friends around the oven, the expense makes total sense.
Tips for Using the Solo Stove Pi Fire Pizza Oven
- Prepare extra dough. It can take a minute to get the hang of things, so make sure you have back-up pizza dough just in case one or two pies don’t end up the way you want them to. Theoretically, any pizza dough could work in this oven, but I always gravitate towards dough made with 00 pizza flour, with a thinner center crust and a thicker outer crust, plus a limited amount of strategically placed toppings to avoid getting too soggy.
- Or outsource the dough, sauce, and cheese. If you want to make pizzas but don’t feel comfortable making your own dough, Solo Stove offers Neapolitan dough to make the whole process even easier.
- Get low. Unlike other backyard ovens, the Pi Fire rests on top of the fire pit, so you need to get on its level to bake without straining your back. I like to stay right in my chair and use a thin pizza peel to adjust the pie in the oven. The opening to the oven is a bit narrow to help keep the heat in, so the thin turner is key for moving the dough safely.
- Get the fire going early. You want your pizza stone and oven to come up to about 500°F, but if the fire is raging too hard when you put the oven on top, the oven will get a lot of soot inside. Start the fire with 3 or 4 logs of wood, and then add the oven and pizza stone, giving them time to heat up while you prepare the ingredients.
Buy: Solo Stove Bonfire Pi Fire, $259.99 (originally $359.99)