Gozney Roccbox Outdoor Pizza Oven Review: Too Much Pizza


No one ever wants to know about the secret lives of tax preparers or bank branch managers. But since the journeys of Anthony Bourdain, everyone wants to learn the secrets and wield the tools of commercial cookery. Who wouldn’t want to be a swaggering night pirate that can also bake a perfect pie?

The $599 Gozney Roccbox is one of those tools that looks great on paper. I’ve met pizza chefs who use the Roccbox for commercial purposes, and they love it. The Roccbox is an imposing 45 pounds of smooth steel, silicone, and stone that heats up to 900+ degrees. It retains that heat well enough to bake pizza after pizza, at less than two minutes a pie.

While I like many things about the Roccbox, it’s too much for a backyard pizza chef. Does anyone really need to cook 30 pizzas in an hour? Probably not. It’s just too expensive and heavy—I put closed-toe shoes on every time I have to move it.

Trying to use the optional wood hopper to make it a wood-fired oven is also an incredibly difficult task. If you must have a wood-fired pizza oven, I recommend the Ooni Pro instead.

Heavy Lifting

If you can overlook the fact that the Roccbox is heavier than a Sisyphean stone, it has a few delightful features that make it particularly easy to set up as a propane oven. First, the oven’s stone baking surface is secured on the oven floor. I don’t have to remove a charred, loose stone to move it or worry about it slipping out of the oven and breaking.

Second, it comes with a padded handle. Just Velcro the wide strap around the oven’s body and haul it from your living room. Finally, the wood and gas attachments don’t require complicated assembly. Both use a simple, secure bayonet mount on the bottom of the oven. Just (carefully!) turn the oven over, insert the pegs into the holes, and slide to click it on.

Once you’ve hooked up your chosen fuel attachment (wood or propane), unfold the Roccbox’s jointed, stainless steel legs and let ‘er rip. The Roccbox’s body is made from a dense, insulating calcium silicate, covered by a thin, soft, silicone jacket. The flame rises from the back of the oven and flows over the top of the pizza, heating the body of the oven and its floor.

As measured by the included thermometer, it took about 30 minutes for the floor to reach 600 degrees—the minimum temperature at which I can bake a wood-fired pizza—with both the propane tank and the gas nozzles completely open. The temperature was consistent with the results that I got from my infrared thermometer.

The Roccbox oven door is 12.2 inches wide and 3.34 inches tall. It accommodates the included 12-inch “perfect pizza peel,” as well as my 10-inch Lodge cast iron skillet. I did find the peel a little annoying. It’s nonstick, but I still like a little cornmeal on the bottom of my pizzas. With a perforated peel, most of the cornmeal just dropped directly onto my counter.

Where the Roccbox especially shone was in recovery time. With smaller ovens, I have to wait 10 to 15 minutes between pizzas to let the stone heat up again, char the bottom properly, and not get the pizza stuck to the bottom.

But with its heavy steel layers and insulating jacket, the Roccbox retained heat exceptionally well. It worked so well that my friends and I could bake 10 pizzas in 30 minutes! Unfortunately, that was about four pizzas too many. I had to put a stop to the proceedings when people started pulling eggs and bacon out of the fridge and talking about breakfast pizza.

Total burnout

Propane leads to 30 pizzas an hour, but with wood I never made a single pie.

When I showed the Roccbox’s wood hopper to a pizza chef friend on my phone, he looked at it, turned to me slowly, and said, “I really don’t think this is going to work.” I was at his house to borrow some wood. But when I saw those huge, hard logs—almost as thick as my waist—I understood that making a wood-fired pizza in this thing might not be as easy as promised.

The Roccbox’s hopper is a small cylinder that utilizes secondary combustion to jack up the fire’s temperature. As the flame shoots out the top of the hopper and heats the body of the oven, the resulting vacuum draws oxygen back through the body of the hopper to feed the fire. It’s an ingenious, space-saving design, until you realize that you actually have to get wood into the hopper. The only fuel access is through a narrow chute with a door that can close, whose opening I measured at 3 inches by 2 inches.

Imagine that your friend has asked you to start the charcoal for a barbecue, but instead of dumping briquettes onto a grate, you have to slide them into the grill one by one, down a toilet paper tube and onto a flickering fire starter. Now you have a glimmer of an idea how difficult it was to light a wood fire in the Roccbox.

Roccbox recommends chopping kindling to about the size of a pencil, so I borrowed my husband’s hatchet. I split those darn things to splinters and stood in the dripping rain, sliding them down the chute … until I got fed up and took my kids out for bratwurst.

Once the sun was shining, I tried again. But, as my pizzaiolo warned me, any wood that was soft enough for me to split into tiny pieces wasn’t dense enough to get a really hot fire. I tried for an hour and never got the temperature to rise above 400 degrees. Finally, I gave up and bought pressed wood chunks and fire starters at the hardware store. But even then, maintaining the flame required constant maintenance. I thought longingly of the Ooni Pro and its easy-access wood tray.

Only for (patient) pros

If you’re a backyard pizza cook who is going to stick to propane, you might as well get the much cheaper and lighter Ooni Koda. The Roccbox does have plenty to recommend it: It’s great-looking, retains heat, and I appreciate a lot of its small design details. But unless you’re planning on catering your daughter’s wedding yourself, it’s just too heavy and expensive. And if you want a wood-fired pizza, look elsewhere.

(The Gozney Roccbox costs $599 at Williams-Sonoma and Gozney.)

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