Wood-fired brick ovens and pizza have been with us since the dawn of civilization. Both have been discovered in the excavations of virtually every ancient civilization, with the brick oven reaching its modern form in ancient Rome. The brick ovens uncovered in ancient Pompeii are in wonderful shape, and could start baking today with only minor renovations.
The shops themselves resembled modern pizzerias, with granite counters, and a salad bar featuring both hot and cold foods and drinks to accompany the pizza. It makes you think there is little new under the sun.
Found throughout Europe, often with little variation from the original Roman round, domed oven chamber and front vent design. In northern Europe, the ovens tended to be larger and the properly of the local Lord—who owned both the oven and the heat inside it, and would charge the serfs for baking their bread. In Italy, where the feudal system took a less firm grip, the ovens tended to be owned by individual families and were smaller—which is the foundation for Italy’s modern pizza oven industry. Round ovens built from brick, and even local stone, have been built in Italy seemingly forever. Virtually every Tuscan farmhouse has, or had, an original brick or stone oven, and many are still being used today.