Obituaries

Goodbye, Gas. The Future of New York City’s Pizza Is Electric.

Something is changing about New York City’s pizza.

It’s not the continued farmers’ market-ification of ingredients, nor is it the ever-expanding definition of what can go on a pizza (ham and horseradish cream, anyone?). It’s not the natural wine pairings, or even the buzzy, inventive pop-ups.

Instead, the ovens themselves are in transition.

“The most famous version of pizza from New York is the gas oven pizza — the pizza by the slice, the pick-it-up-and-fold-it-grease-running-down-your-arm version,” said Scott Wiener, who leads pizza tours in the city.

But some of New York City’s most accomplished pizza makers have seen the writing on the wall: Gas isn’t getting any cheaper. Wood- or coal-fired pizza ovens, long-revered as the gold standard, are increasingly rare. And now electric ovens — once mocked as an Easy Bake-esque cop-out — are on the rise.

Upside Pizza, a New York chain known for its sourdough pies and fancy ingredients, recently switched from gas ovens to electric ovens. Credit…Lisa Corson for The New York Times

“The history of pizza is wood,” said Anthony Falco, a consultant who has worked with clients across New York City and the world. “And the future is electric.”

The switch, pizza makers from across the city said, is a chef’s choice: Electric ovens can get almost as hot as a wood or coal oven, which can burn at approximately 900 degrees. But in the lunch rush, when employees must repeatedly open and close the oven door, pizza makers say electric ovens retain their heat better than their gas-fired counterparts.

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