Solo Pi review: Great pizza in minutes
The same company that makes one of the most popular smokeless fire pits is applying its technology to something far tastier. The Solo Stove Solo Pi is an outdoor pizza oven that can cook pies in just two minutes. Starting at $469, it’s affordable and works on both propane and wood. But is it? best pizza oven for your garden? You should check out our Solo Pi review – and get hungry reading about all the pizzas we’ve made – before you decide.
Solo Pi Review: Price and Availability
The Solo Pi went on sale in Spring 2022 and can be purchased in a few configurations. The stove with just the wood-fired assembly is $469; If you want it with the propane attachment, it’s $645.
Solo also sells two bundles: the Pi Starter Bundle, which includes the wood burning attachment, an IR thermometer, a stainless steel bowl, and a pizza cutter, costs $554.99; The same bundle with the propane attachment is $729.99. The Pi Essential bundle, which adds a rotating bowl and protective stove cover, costs $624.99 for the all-wood model and $794.99 for the wood and gas version.
You can also purchase these accessories separately, either through Solo or through a third party. At the very least, I recommend getting a pizza peel — those extra-large spatulas you see in pizza places — which is an absolute necessity if you want to safely get a pizza in and out of the oven. An infrared or laser thermometer is also handy for knowing how hot it is in the oven. Each of these accessories costs between $20 and $30.
Solo Pi Review: Design
The Solo Pi looks a lot like the company’s fire pits. It is a large, round, stainless steel oven, about 20 inches in diameter. A metal grille at the front, just below the mouth of the stove, makes it look like a cousin of Gort from The Day the Earth Stood Still.
Still, its design is much more modern than other pizza ovens and definitely sets the Pi apart from the rest. At 30 pounds it’s fairly light but not as portable as the Ooni Fyra, another excellent outdoor pizza oven.
In front is a nice big opening; Unlike other pizza ovens, there is no door, so you can see your pizza while it’s baking.
There is a fuel port on the back of the Solo Pi. The Pi comes with a wood burning assembly, but you can pick up a propane fuel attachment for about $175. You don’t get that nice woody smell, but it makes things a lot easier to manage, especially if you’re new to pizza ovens.
Solo Pi review: performance
Using the propane attachment I was able to get the Solo Pi’s internal temperature to around 750 degrees Fahrenheit.
This isn’t as hot as some other pizza ovens we’ve tested; I was able to get the Ooni Fyra to over 900 degrees, but it was hot enough to make a Neapolitan cake in about two minutes. A 1/4 inch cordierite pizza stone heated up in about 15 minutes and held its heat well as we baked half a dozen pizzas.
I’ve used the pizza oven to make about a dozen pizzas using a 60% hydration Neapolitan dough recipe. Each pizza had a variety of toppings, from a simple margherita to caramelized red onions, sausage, mushrooms and more. The Pi’s nice wide open mouth made it very easy to monitor the pizza to make sure it wasn’t burning and also made it easy to flip the pizzas in the oven.
Even when it was scorching hot inside, the Pi’s exterior stayed relatively cool. While it felt hot, it wasn’t so hot that if you accidentally touched it you’d instantly burn your hand.
I’ve also tried the Solo Pi as a wood-fired pizza oven, befitting its lineage. However, I found it cumbersome to use. To put wood in the stove, you need to go around its back and remove a panel. You also can’t just add wood through the front of the stove because there is a metal wall between the firebox and the main body of the stove.
Like its fire pits, the Solo Pi is very efficient at burning wood, requiring you to refill the Pi’s firebox every five to 10 minutes. Trying to feed a crowd and having to keep going to the back of the stove to add more wood can get tiring quickly.
In comparison, the Ooni Fyra uses wood pellets that you load into a chute at the back of the stove. In addition, the Fyra’s damper makes it easier to control the temperature of the oven by limiting the airflow; The Solo Pi has no such mechanism.
From an aesthetic point of view, the front of the Solo Pi also gets very sooty when using wood. Since there is no chimney like the Ooni, opening the stove is the only way for heat and smoke to escape.
Solo Pi Review: Verdict
The Solo Pi is a good looking and well designed pizza oven that can bake excellent cakes in minutes. It’s also light enough that you can easily move it around when not in use, and its wide mouth makes turning cakes during cooking a breeze.
The Solo Pi isn’t our top pick for wood stoves though – for that, check out Ooni’s pellet stoves, which are much easier to feed and control. However, if you choose the Solo Pi’s propane burner attachment, you won’t be disappointed – and neither will your guests.
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