If you go to a authentic restaurant, there's a good chance that you're going to find at least one dish on the menu that advertises itself as wood-fired. If you make that a authentic Italian restaurant, you might see it—or it might just be implied that a wood-fired oven is the norm for the best meals.
There's a reason for it. Even as cooking has become more convenient with the advancements in grills and ovens, nothing can yet match the flavor that comes from a wood-fired grill or the speed at which it produces perfect pizza and other Italian dishes. If you've ever wondered why so many Italian restaurants in Brooklyn NY, opt for a wood-burning oven for their baked dishes, here are just a few reasons why.
It Cooks Evenly and Quickly
Take a look at your home oven. No matter how new or high-quality it is, chances are that it tops out at just over 500 degrees to allow you to broil food. There's nothing wrong with a home-cooked meal, but the reality is that a home oven doesn't allow you to get the proper cooking done the same way that a wood-fired oven does.
A wood-fired oven can reach temperatures of 800 degrees, and not only does that cook a pizza faster, the oven cooks it better. A pizza that's cooked in a wood-fired oven will be crispy and chewy rather than soggy because the fast cooking time prevents any moisture from developing in the dough. That's why a true Neapolitan pizza can only be cooked in a wood-fired oven.
It Adds Flavor to Dishes
If you've done much with your grill, you might know that the kind of fuel you use for your fire adds its own flavor to whatever you're cooking. When it comes to Italian dishes, flavor is critical, and wood often adds the perfect touch of flavor to the finished dish. That's why Italian restaurants are careful to select the right type of wood for what they want to cook.
Usually, either red oak or white oak is selected because both kinds of wood burn evenly and add enough flavor to complement the dish without overwhelming it. If a dish has strong flavors, red oak will usually be the preferred choice because it adds more flavor than white oak, giving that perfect smoky finish. If the dish's flavors will get overwhelmed by red oak, white oak is an excellent alternative. In either case, the wood's flavor is often the necessary step to make a great dish memorable.
It's Healthier for You
You probably know that ovens are a healthier way to cook food than frying it in oil, but did you know that a wood-fired oven is actually a healthier way to enjoy Italian dishes than other ovens? That's because the intense heat that cooks your pizza or other Italian favorite doesn't just get it cooked quicker, it also locks in the nutrients from the vegetables on your meal. The less time your meal takes to cook, the less chance there's for nutrients to get cooked off during the process, so you get all of the flavor and all of the things that your body needs at once.
When it comes to quality Italian food, there's nothing like the taste and the quality of an Italian meal that's been cooked in an old-fashioned wood-fired oven. When you sit down to a meal at one of the great Italian restaurants in Brooklyn, NY, you're going to enjoy a real treat the way it's been prepared in Italia for centuries. Come check out the delicious food at Barano. Bon Appetit!