Homemade “pizzeria style” pizza – Testing Optima Napoli Pizza Express oven

What is the secret of happiness? Great food of course or today I would actually say.. great pizza!

Being Italian I absolutely love pizza: every week I make my own, the children love it and for a fraction of the price of what you would pay in a pizzeria we are all satisfied and full up afterwards.

So, can you imagine my joy when I was approached to test a miniature version of a professional pizza oven which can reach the temperature of 450C! Most home ovens will only reach a temperature of approximately 300C or 570 F which is very good for baking cakes or cooking ordinary stuff but not for pizza which needs higher temperatures like 450C or 840 F.

When I received the “Optima Pizza Express Napoli oven I was very pleased to know that it is 100% manufactured in Italy, to be precise in Modena, and was designed by Gabriele Ferrari who is originally from Naples. I really love its stylish retro look.

Optima pizza express Napoli oven

The oven has two heating elements (bottom and top) and it will reach the temperature of 450C in 10 minutes. The base is made of refractory stone which will take away excess moisture from the dough making the bottom crisp. A refractory stone is the best way to cook a pizza as it is able to store and evenly distribute the heat on the entire surface of the pizza; also it can maintain a constant temperature even when the oven door/lid is opened.

Optima Pizza oven

I was also sent a few Italian ingredients with which to make my pizza base.

Ingredients for pizza

I started off by making the pizza dough using 500 grams (about 4 cups) of flour, the water, the yeast and the salt and I kneaded it for 15 minutes until it felt smooth and elastic. The dough rested for 45 minutes and then I divided it into 4 equal balls which I left to prove for a couple of hours covered by a cloth until they doubled in size.

My son enjoyed playing with the dough!

Making pizza dough

Using the middle of my fingers I pushed the edges and I made 4 round flat circles.  Ideally you should try not to touch the edges to avoid pushing out all the air. The more air the pizza has the softer the final consistency will be.

Making a round pizza

After flouring the 2 wooden spatulas that came with the oven (which you need to place the actual pizza in the oven), I placed my round pizza dough on them. You need to make sure you flour them well otherwise the dough will stick to them and you won’t be able to slide them off easily into the oven.

Placing pizza dough to be cooked

Using the graduated knob I switched the oven on at 2 1/2 according to instructions. The red light came on. I waited 10 minutes for the oven to warm up at the right temperature.

Pizza dough ready to be cooked

In the meantime I spread the chopped tomatoes on the pizza (but you can also use tomato sauce) and drizzled it with a little olive oil. I don’t usually like to add salt on top of my pizza.

Tomato on pizza

I made sure that the red light was still on (very important) before putting my pizza in the oven. This means that the two heating elements are still in operation and you need both to be on in order to cook the pizza.

I left the pizza in the oven for 3 minutes then I opened the lid and added the mozzarella. I lowered the lid and continued cooking it for a further 2 minutes. You can put all your topping on the pizza when you spread the tomato sauce but I don’t like overcooked mozzarella so I added it later.

Cooking pizza in pizza oven

After this time the pizza looked good. You can open the lid and check how you want it done. Some people like their pizza crust a little more cooked but you don’t want too cook it too much to avoid it becoming too hard. I found that approximately 5 minutes it is actually enough.

I removed my pizza onto a plate, put some basil on top and another drizzle of olive oil… and this was the result!

Homemade pizza magherita

I must say.. I rather liked it!

Homemade pizza magherita

Homemade pizza magherita

Pizza margherita slice

Nice and rustic although I could tell how I should improve my dough making skills! My pizzas were clearly not perfectly round.. I need to spend a few more hours practising. I watched many You Tube videos about the art of pizza making and I find it fascinating how “pizzaioli” can make a perfect pizza in seconds! Will I ever get there??

Homemade pizza magherita

I made the other pizzas adding different toppings. My favourite one will always be with olives and artichokes.

Pizza with artichokes and olives

With this oven you can also prepare other things like focaccia or bread rolls too although it should not be something too big as there won’t be enough room for large bread loaves.

If you don’t have time to make a pizza from scratch this oven will also cook frozen ready made pizzas.

I think this oven will be good fun if you are having a party.

.. a pizza party in style!

sharing a pizza - pizza party


You can find more information on the pizzaunited.co.uk website.

Pizza United offers a £ 10 discount to all my followers on each “Optima Pizza Express
Napoli” oven by quoting  “MYLITTLEITALIANKITCHEN”.
The code is valid until 19th of January 2020.


Italian pizza cooked in a miniature refractory stone oven



I received the pizza oven for the purpose of a review. No payment was received and all opinions are my own.


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24 Responses to Homemade “pizzeria style” pizza – Testing Optima Napoli Pizza Express oven

  1. angiesrecipes

    The pizza turned out really great, Alida. Thanks for the honest review and delicious pizza :-))

    • Alida

      Thank you Angie.

    • Alida

      La pizza e’ sempre buona!

  2. 2pots2cook

    Just returned home from work and would enjoy to have a slice or two dear ! Love the idea of baking it in the oven of that kind 🙂 Pinned !

    • Alida

      My “pizza day” is usually Saturday night, the children love their weekly pizza.

  3. Mimi

    What fun! I was given something quite similar years ago, but you couldn’t add many toppings, especially sauce, or it all got squished out. Does this one do that?

    • Alida

      Hi Mimi, no I had no problems with that but you do need to leave a bit of an edge around the pizza to avoid the topping spilling out. Next time I will try making a focaccia with it. The consistency of the dough is just different with an oven that can reach such high temperatures.

  4. Katerina

    I can’t believe this pizza only took 5 minutes to bake, that’s amazingly quick! It looks fabulous. I can tell you are going to enjoy trying out more recipes with this clever little oven!

    • Alida

      Yes at first I didn’t understand how this is possible either and I cooked it for longer! If you cook it for 10 minutes it gets too hard though.

  5. Ron

    Lovely pizza cooker, but the Ooni Pro wood burner is the one I wish I had. Your pizzas look wonderful. Thin crusted not over sauced or overcooked.
    We have a wonderful Italian family-run pizzeria near here and I love their woodfired pizza. But, the most fun is watching the pizzaiolo toss pizzas. He’s been making pizzas for near 50 years. Thanks for your fine review, maybe they’ll send you an Ooni Pro to test.

    • Alida

      I find pizza quite addictive.. good pizza I mean. Pizza cooked in a food fired oven is the top of the tops, the flavour of the pizza is unique. My grandmother used to have one, my dad built it for her as he was quite good at this things. She used to bake all her bread with it and roast her chickens too (home reared chickens of course). How delicious, this brings back memories.

  6. Monica

    Ciao Alida, we have the same pizza oven as Gianmario is passionate about baking (he is using sourdough) with great results!
    We sent one to Federica as well, they bake pizza in Hampshire for the joy of their friends!
    Baci a tutti!

    • Alida

      Ciao Monica! Nice to hear from you 🙂 Spero tutto bene.
      How interesting that you have the same pizza maker. Please let me know when you are in the UK, I would love to see you.
      Un bacione grande!

    • Alida

      Grazie cara

  7. Balvinder

    It really looks delicious. I am craving some, Alida!

    • Alida

      Thank you Balvinder

  8. Laura De Vincentis

    Un’ottima pizza. Si mangia con gli occhi. Ho anche io quel fornetto, favoloso! Un bacio

    • Alida

      Interessante quante persone abbiamo il fornetto e sono contenta di averlo provato. Da ora in poi mi sa che non faro’ piu’ la pizza nel forno normale.

  9. Frank

    Looks like a neat little machine. The crust came out beautifully. I wonder if this is marketed in the US?

    • Alida

      I don’t know but these days with the internet you can get almost anything from around the world. After publishing this post I was surprised by how many Italian people told me that they have it as well. I am getting used to this little oven and at the weekend I made 4 pizzas for our family again. The end result is so different that I am not sure I will want to go back to my old oven again when making pizza. I guess the only drawback is that I will have to cook one pizza at the time. So far I used to make 2 large trays and cook them at the same time.

  10. All That I'm Eating

    This has made me REALLY crave a proper pizza now Alida! It looks so good. Really like the idea of the pizza oven too, much smaller than building one outside!

    • Alida

      Absolutely and most people don’t have the space for a large pizza oven.

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