I have to admit, I was skeptical about a pizza oven that claims to cook Neapolitan pizza in less than 2 minutes at temps over 930ºF…for the low, low price of just $289 (for the wood-only version). Those are wicked-hot temps, and most manufacturers charge a pretty penny for them. Would this oven perform as advertised?
For months, I tested various pizzas of multiple persuasions in this oven, plus seared steaks, sizzled seafood, and roasted vegetables, and I gotta say, I’m impressed. This little pizza oven packs a punch!
History and construction
Bertello was formed in 2017 by Minnesota brothers Eric and Andy Bert (Bertello…get it?). Eric, a former structural engineer, designed a compact pizza oven that could use multiple fuels, while Andy, a finance pro, set up the business plan. A low price point was key to competing with the now-discontinued Ooni 3 pizza oven, the portable pizza oven pioneer with a very similar design. Like the original Ooni (called Uuni when it came out in 2012), Bertello’s design is more functional than flashy with a black exterior consisting of insulated powder-coated stainless steel fastened mostly with rivets.
The unique selling point for this unit? The ability to cook with multiple fuels from gas to wood to charcoal and pellets, including gas and wood simultaneously. Sales were good, so the Bert brothers took Bertello to ABC’s “Shark Tank” where they won an investment from Kevin O’Leary (a.k.a. Mr. Wonderful). That was in 2020, and Bertello has been gaining ground ever since.
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The Bertello “Everything Bundle” includes the 12″ oven with a U-shaped 15,700 BTU gas burner insert. The burner sits in a perforated steel tray, and you can burn small wood splits over the propane if you want. You can also cook entirely with wood, charcoal, or pellets by installing a separate tray (also included in the Bundle) instead of the propane burner. To complete the package, the Everything Bundle comes with an aluminum pizza peel for retrieving your pies, an infrared thermometer, and a weatherproof cover for a total of $489.99. If you don’t want the extra doodads, you can buy the original wood/charcoal/pellets-only Bertello model ($289.99) plus the separate gas burner/wood tray combo ($109.99) for a total of $399.98, which saves you about $90 over the bundle.
Either way, the Bertello 12″ model (they also sell a 16″ Grande model) is about the size of a small dog: 22″ L x 14″ W x 11″ H. The gas burner sticks out the back another 10 inches, and the back door handle adds about 2″ inches” of height. Like other portable gas-fired pizza ovens such as the Ooni Koda and Gozney Roccbox, Bertello has foldaway legs so it’s easy to transport. With the gas burner installed, Bertello weighs about 36 pounds, which is a bit lighter than the Roccbox and a bit heavier than the Ooni yet still easy to throw in your car to bring to a friend’s backyard or a tailgate.
Like those ovens, Bertello achieves its high temps, in part, because there just isn’t much space to heat. That means the oven mouth is also on the small side, about 12-1/2″ W x 3″ H (or 2″ H with the pizza stone installed). The cordierite stone itself measures about 12-1/2″ W by 13-1/2″ L. Bertello says you can cook a 12″ pizza in there, but that’s super tight. I found 10″ to 11″ pizzas much easier to launch, rotate, and retrieve.
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Bertello’s rep told us “The best way to use the oven is to preheat with the gas burner on high for about 30 minutes, then add a few pieces of wood kindling to the back, then turn the gas burner to low and launch your pizza. Rotate the pizza every 25 seconds at quarter rotations.”
Let’s give that a try. I decided to start with gas only to eliminate the wood variable. On a 70ºF day, after 5 minutes of gas heating on high (with the back door on), my IR gun clocked the stone temperature at 400ºF at the back near the burner and 200ºF at the front near the mouth of the oven. After 10 minutes, the back stone temp hit 600ºF and the front reached around 300ºF. Bertello doesn’t have a temperature gauge so you need an infrared thermometer to measure stone temps. I had no complaints on that since most built-in temperature gauges are worthless anyway.
My Neapolitan dough tends to cook best on a stone around 650ºF, and I was really hungry that day, so I gave the oven another 5 minutes (15 minutes total preheat time) and then launched the first pie. This first pizza, topped with pesto, pine nuts, gorgonzola, and yellow tomatoes, was cooked in less than 2 minutes. But I forgot to turn the dial to Low. The burner was at full bore, which gave the top of the pizza some nice leopard spotting, but the bottom wasn’t as crispy as I like it. That’s what happens when you’re impatient and don’t fully preheat your pizza stone. Click here for the Neapolitan dough recipe.
For the next pie, I let the oven recover for a full 30 minutes on High, at which point, the back of the stone registered 781ºF and the front around 450ºF. Notice there’s a pretty consistent temp differential between the back and front of Bertello. The back is about twice as hot, even when the oven is saturated with heat after 30 to 45 minutes. That makes sense. Like a traditional wood-fired oven, Bertello’s heat is concentrated in one area, in this case near the back burner. That means you need to rotate your pizza diligently for even cooking.
I turned the temp dial to Low, launched a broccoli-mushroom white pizza, then rotated it every 20 to 25 seconds. The stone was much hotter, so the pizza crust got nice and crispy and the whole pie was more evenly cooked. It was still done in less than 2 minutes.
Bertello’s preheating instructions were spot on. There’s one thing they didn’t say, though: with this unit, you have to completely remove the pizza from the oven to rotate it. With an 11″ pizza in a 12″ oven, there just isn’t enough room to spin it around inside. Instead, it’s best to use a metal peel to pull the pizza all the way out of the oven every 20-25 seconds, quickly rotate it by hand a quarter turn on the peel, then re-launch it onto the stone. That technique yielded an evenly cooked pizza with a crispy underskirt and some nice leopard spotting on the cornicione (rim).
Then it was time to test the gas-and-wood option. This method is essentially the same, except you add some wood pieces to the perforated tray over the burner just before turning the temp dial to Low and launching your pizza. The idea is to get some woodsmoke on the pie. You only need a couple of small wood chunks or kindling pieces. My splits were about 6″ L x 1″ W.
With the back door removed, the wood ignites pretty fast and flames start shooting out the back. Close the back door, and the flames are forced across the dome of the oven toward the mouth, bringing any smoke along with it (Bertello has no chimney).
I made a few pies with this gas-and-wood method, and they cooked slightly faster than the gas-only method: the extra fuel bumps up the temp a bit. But I noticed something strange: the woodsmoke smelled a little “off”. It had a slightly bitter, acrid aroma rather than a pleasant one. I also noticed more black and gray smoke coming out of the oven rather than white or blue smoke.
What’s going on here? I’m guessing incomplete combustion. Yes the wood ignited, but it also seemed starved of oxygen. Meathead has all the details in his article on wood, smoke, and combustion. As Dallas engineer Bill Karau, who designed the excellent Karubecue pit, says, “With oxygen deprivation you get bad flavors.”
I tried venting Bertello’s back door to give the wood some air, but the door has no holes and only has two positions: on or off.
Our Bertello contact responds, “Through our UL certification, we determined there was plenty of air flow to the wood, so I would say that me and any other customers that I’m aware of have not experienced any bitterness due to lack of oxygen to the wood.”
Fortunately, the pizzas cooked with wood tasted fine. In fact, they didn’t taste smoky at all. My solution? Skip the wood. Most of the “smoke” flavor that people love on pizza isn’t actually woodsmoke anyway: it’s the tasty bits of char here and there all over the pizza. Bertello does a fantastic job producing that flavorful char because it reaches such high temps.
If you’re dead set on using wood, you can also remove the gas burner insert and use the wood insert instead. Then you can cook with 100% wood, charcoal, or pellets. I didn’t test this method because the gas burner is the real draw of the Everything Bundle we tested. It’s infinitely more convenient, and the oven is ready for pizza in just 30 minutes. If I want to babysit a wood fire to get consistently high temps, I’d rather do it with whole logs, not tiny splits in a little tray. You’re call though.
Onto the next test: Bertello’s Warp 10 capacity. Just how hot could this little oven get? To find out, I preheated it for 1 hour on High. My IR gun registered 941ºF at the back of the stone and 623ºF at the front. Them’s super-hot temps! I launched a sausage and roasted pepper pizza and it cooked in about 90 seconds. That’s the holy grail for Neapolitan-style pizza and Bertello achieves it.
You can see from the intense leopard spotting on the rim and the underskirt that the air bubbles in the dough charred super-quick. This pizza had that pleasant, smoky char flavor I love without any unpleasant bitterness.
Next question: Is Bertello just a high-temp Neapolitan pizza oven, or can it maintain more moderate temps for other pizza styles? I’m working on a Detroit-style pizza cookbook, and the basic recipe calls for an oven heated to 700ºF. I ignited Bertello’s gas burner, set it Low, and let it go for 45 minutes. At that point, the back stone temp was about 700°F and the front about 350ºF. Very promising.
In went a buffalo chicken pizza, and after 12 minutes (with regular turning), it came out perfect, similar to other pizza ovens I set for 700ºF. I drizzled on the Buffalo sauce and blue cheese dressing, dotted it with crumbled blue cheese, and the family was mighty happy with dinner that night.
It’s good to know that Bertello isn’t just a one-trick pony. It has a temperature range of about 700ºF to 930ºF. That opens up lots of possibilities for high-heat roasting. Brussels sprouts? Why not. I preheated the oven on Low for 30 minutes and stuck a 12-inch carbon steel pan in there to preheat. In went the Brussels with a nice sizzle in the pan, I turned ‘em all flat, and they were roasted tender in about 15 minutes.
It was steak night, so I kept the Brussels warm and let the oven recover for 15 minutes on High with a small cast-iron pan inside. Bertello says you can remove the baking stone entirely and put a pan directly on the oven floor, which you may need to do if your pan is deeper than 2 inches. But I wanted the steak near the top heat. My thinking: broiling top heat of a salamander + blistering bottom heat of a pizza stone = perfect thick crust on my steak!
It worked. It also seemed easier than removing the hot stone and risking breakage. My 1-1/2″ thick prime strip steak cooked to medium-rare in about 12 minutes. The seasoning? Meathead’s Amazing Smoked Red Meat seasoning rubbed into the meat about an hour before cooking.
Gas usage and cleaning
For all my cook tests, I hooked the Bertello to a standard 20-pound propane tank. Bertello’s customer service rep told me his 20-pound tank “typically lasts me about two months, when using the oven 4 days a week for about an hour each time.” And that’s for the 16″ Grande model, which requires almost twice as many BTUs as the 12″. I started with a full tank and it’s still about half full after testing for months. The moral? You won’t be running to the hardware store every week for propane refills, even if you use Bertello several times a week. It runs efficiently, mostly due to its compact size. And if you’re a natural gasser, Bertello says they’ll have a natural gas burner available by the end of 2023.
A note on cleaning: DO NOT lean down and blow into this oven to try and remove burnt crumbs. Flames will just shoot back into your face, even with the unit on low. That’s because the mouth of Bertello is also its chimney. Just scrape the stone with a metal pizza peel between pies. If you’re burning wood, you’ll have to remove the gas burner assembly entirely to dump out the built-up ash. I didn’t have much. If you skip the gas-and-wood option, you won’t have any. After the unit cools down, cleaning the stone is easier: just remove it and scrape it clean with a metal brush.
I tested Bertello with steaks, shrimp, vegetables, and of course, pizza. The company markets the oven’s ability to use gas and wood simultaneously, and you can certainly do that. But I found it works best as a gas-only unit. The company also says you can cook a 12″ pizza in there, but a 10″ or 11″ pie is more realistic. The oven is very compact, so you have to completely remove the pizza to turn it on the pizza peel. Once you get the hang of it, that turning method becomes second nature.
Those are all minor quibbles. On the whole, this little portable gas oven is easy to use and has a very useful temperature range of about 700ºF to 930ºF, allowing you to sear and roast meats, fish, and vegetables, and cook various styles of pizza — from Detroit to New York to Neapolitan.
With all those plusses at a reasonable price, Bertello takes home the Gold.
Bertello just announced their warranty is upgraded from two years to lifetime excluding abuse and neglect. And yes, they cover shipping costs!
We thank Bertello for providing an Outdoor Pizza Oven Everything Bundle for our tests.
Where to buy (buying from this supplier supports this website):
Cooked On It
We have hands-on experience testing this product. We have also gathered info from the manufacturer, owners and other reliable sources.
Grill, Tailgater, Pizza Oven
Charcoal, Propane Gas, Wood Pellets, Logs, More Than One Fuel
165.26 Heat Flux is the BTU per square inch and is a more useful measure of how much heat a grill delivers than BTU alone.
95 square inches
Small(about 4 burgers)
Bertello was formed in 2017 by Minnesota brothers Eric and Andy Bert. Eric, a former structural engineer, designed a compact pizza oven that could use multiple fuels, while Andy, a finance pro, set up the business plan. A low price point was key to compete with the popular Ooni 3 pizza oven, the portable pizza oven pioneer with a very similar design. Like the original Ooni, Bertello’s design is more functional than flashy with a black exterior consisting of insulated powder coated stainless steel fastened mostly with rivets. The unique selling point? The ability to cook with multiple fuels from gas to wood to charcoal and pellets, including gas and wood simultaneously. Sales were good, so the Bert bros took Bertello to ABC’s SharkTank, where they won an investment from Kevin O’Leary (AKA Mr. Wonderful). That was in 2020, and Bertello has been gaining ground ever since.
Dave Joachim - Editor of AmazingRibs.com, David Joachim has authored, edited, or collaborated on more than 45 cookbooks, four of them on barbecue and grilling, and his Food Science column has appeared in "Fine Cooking" magazine since 2011. He’s a perfect match for a website dedicated to the “Science of Barbecue and Grilling.”