Napoleon is a Canadian company that manufactures a wide variety of grills, smokers, accessories and books. They started in 1976 as a small steel fabrication company in Ontario, Canada, then branched out into making fireplaces and grills. Although Napoleon sightings are rare south of the Canadian border, they produce quality products and are essentially Canada's answer to Weber. In fact it's hard not to draw comparisons between Napoleon and Weber, even their logo and website are similar. But Napoleon comes up with just enough distinctive ideas to make them a viable contender.
The Napoleon Prestige P500RSIB is a very nice high end cart mounted gas grill at an affordable price, competitive with Weber Summit, Saber's all stainless models and Broil King's Imperial Series, but it is not the top of the line Napoleon. Their naming conventions are confusing, with about 12 lines of grills. The Prestige Series is fourth in the pecking order behind the Prestige II, Prestige V, and the Prestige Pro Series. The 500RSIB is the top of the Prestige Series.
This model has a propane version and a natural gas version, but there is no kit to convert one to the other. There are four 12,000 BTU main burners, an 18,000 BTU rotisserie burner in the rear of the cooking chamber, and a 14,000 BTU infrared (IR) burner on a side table. The main burners connect to the front and rear, and each has its own ignition. Just turn the temperature control knob and it fires right up.
One side shelf has a recessed 9 x 14.75" side burner that they call the "sizzle zone" because it is outfitted with a 4.5" x 10.5" ceramic infrared burner with thousands of small burners that gets over 1000°F and sears two steaks beautifully, (pictured left). Unlike some IR burners, the temp of this one can be adjusted downward which comes in handy for sauces. The sizzle zone has a heavy cast iron grate that tends to burn the meat before it browns so we replaced it with a thin wire metal grate that doesn't burn as readily, and if you flip the meat often as we recommend in our article on searing and grill marks you can produce restaurant grade steaks.
There are four stainless steel burner shields over the four burners, and there are also three more in between the burners to reduce hot spots and provide more surface for juices to vaporize on. Nice touch but the grill still runs hotter toward the back.
The rotisserie burner is stainless steel and the unit comes with a rotisserie motor, spear with a counterweight and two forks. The counterweight is a nice feature because it is hard to balance some foods and a counterweight is like balancing your tires. If you wish you may order two more forks, a nice idea because there is plenty of room and the motor is sturdy. They also sell an optional basket that wraps around the rotisserie spear. Toss shrimp or cubes of meat or veggies in there for a nice all over sear. We love it! You can even buy an attachment for holding kebab skewers on the rotisserie.
The model we tested is has a lot of high quality 304 stainless steel including the center section of the rolltop lid. The inside of the lid has a second layer of SS to help hold in heat. The end caps of the lid and the firebox below the burners are heavy cast aluminum It is hinged in such a way that it needs less than 3" of clearance behind the unit. If you prefer you can get a porcelain enamel lid in three other colors. The two side shelves are stainless and the end caps are thick plastic with tool hooks and handy condiment/drink holders. There are more tool hooks on the inside of the cabinet doors and four locking wheels.
The grates on the main grill are thick stainless steel but the "warming rack" is a thinner chrome plated wire that warps if you don't remove it when you use the rotisserie burner just below. This is noted in the Owner's Manual so be sure to remove the warming rack when using the rotisserie burner. There is a rather small removable and disposable drip pan in the cabinet so you can access it from the front: much more convenient than grills designed with drip pan access at the back. Good thing because you'll need to check and empty this little grease pan often when you cook meats with substantial drippings.
Options include a heavy cast iron insert that drops into the firebox and allows you to burn charcoal, making this a dual fuel threat. Since gas grills have so many vents, you cannot control ariflow, so it is not a good charcoal grill in that you cannot control temps. But the charcoal is easy to light: all you have to do is remove one of the deflector plates and fire up the gas burner under it, and it is great for searing.
You can also buy a stainless steel "smoke tube" that holds wood chips from Napoleon or from third parties. We're not fans of smoke tubes. GrillGrates (tm) are a better option, just throw pellets or chips on them and the meat goes right on top for direct smoke.
They also sell grill covers and other gadgets like pizza stones, cutting boards, spatulas etc.
While assembling the company provided demo, we were impressed with the craftsmanship and fit and finish. Not the best, but still well above average particularly in this price range. The only assembly problem we encountered was the cabinet doors, which were a real pain to hang. One other pet peeve that Napoleon passed with flying colors - they actually shipped a couple extra screws. Seems like one always manages to disappear so it's nice to have spares. They were spares, right?
Our posted BTU rating is for the four main burners and rotisserie burner. Limited Lifetime Warranty.
Cooked On It
We have hands-on experience testing this product. We have also gathered info from the manufacturer, owners and other reliable sources.