La Trattoria’s oven fires back up for business
The pizza oven at an Italian restaurant had never fully cooled down in almost quarter of a century — until state-of-emergency measures for the Covid-19 pandemic meant it had to close its doors for four weeks.
Yesterday the one-tonne oven at La Trattoria in Hamilton was again being fired up to its operating temperature of about 600F after the shelter-in-place regulations were relaxed.
Nicola Russo, the manager of the Washington Lane restaurant, said: “Since it was installed 24 years ago, it has never gone cold. Even if you close the restaurant for one or two days and you don't have the fire, the oven is still warm.
“But now, because we have been closed so long, the stone has gone back to room temperature, so you cannot start the fire and crank it straight up to 600 degrees because you would be damaging the stones. So you have to do it slowly.”
Mr Russo said it took at least a day and a night to get the wood-burning oven heated to protect the volcanic rock it is made of. The oven is expected to be back to operational temperature by lunchtime today and ready to produce piping hot pizza for kerbside pick up and takeout customers.
Mr Russo added it was the island's first pizza oven and, because of its weight, the floor of the restaurant had to be checked to ensure it was strong enough to support it.
He said when it was first installed it took 2½ days to increase the heat inside to cure the oven's volcanic rock lining.
Mr Russo said the oven never completely cooled because, even when there was a short break, such as a few days when it was closed, it retained much of its warmth.
The four-week closure in April meant it had be refired from scratch for the first time.
The oven has a gas burner for the bottom plate, but most of the heat is generated through the burning of wood, almost all of it casuarina.
La Trattoria, in line with the Bermuda Government's phase one regulations, will from today provide a kerbside pick-up and takeout service.
Mr Russo said: “We are anticipating a tsunami of orders.”