Brick ovens are a type of oven that features a chamber that is constructed of brick and concrete. Sometimes referred to as a masonry oven, the bricks may be constructed of fired clay or even cut from stone. The brick oven has a long history dating back to the Roman Empire. In the New World, there is evidence of brick ovens in use among Native Americans prior to the arrival of explorers from Europe or Spain.
By the 19th century, most versions of brick ovens made good use of wood and coal as the means of generating the heat to bake various types of breads, meats, and even sweets. The woodfired oven was common along the American frontier, owing to the ample supply of fuel that could be cut, stored, and gathered. As smaller communities evolved into towns and cities, many woodfired ovens were modified to utilize coal as the heat source.
Brick ovens continued to be popular throughout the 20th century, and continue to be used in a number of restaurants today. One of the most popular applications of the brick oven is with pizza parlors. Many experts in the preparation of Neapolitan style pizza attest to the extra touch of flavor that a brick oven can give to the finished product. Many people also believe that the baking action of brick ovens also adds to the texture of the crust as well as to the taste.
Restaurants that specialize in barbecued meat also often make use of brick ovens in the preparation of their signature dishes. By selecting specific types of wood to fire the ovens, it is possible to infuse another layer of flavor to the pork, beef, and chicken that is offered to customers. Purportedly, brick ovens are also much easier to clean, which can add to the desirable nature of the appliance.
While some brick ovens continue to operate with the use of wood or coal, many modern brick ovens also utilize natural gas or electricity. In some cases, natural gas may provide the source of igniting a layer of wood that is placed in the oven. Using the gas as a heating medium makes it possible to control the cooking temperature, while the wood helps to add flavor to the foods that are prepared in the oven.