Cru Ovens might not be a brand you’re particularly familiar with. They haven’t been on the pizza oven scene very long, but their thoughtfully designed, handcrafted ovens are quickly establishing them as someone to be aware of.
They currently have three ovens to offer, with an option for every budget, but it was the mid priced Cru 32 Model that caught our eye. This stainless steel, barrel-shaped oven is known for its versatility, large cooking area, high temperature, and innovative, easy-clean design. All for a price of $775.
Sounds good? Well, let’s find out. Read on for our full review of the Cru Model 32 G2.
Design and Features
This oven can be used with wood, charcoal, or a combination of the two. I tested it using wood only since that’s my preference, but the option to use charcoal is a bonus for anyone who wants a little versatility or easier ignition.
We love the look of the Cru 32. The no-frills stainless steel design gives it a commercial kitchen vibe that will appeal to aspiring pro or home chefs. At 56lbs, it is also portable enough to be taken to friends’ backyards or on camping trips.
- Dimensions: L22″ x W20″ x H17″
- Cooking surface: L20″ x W16″
- Capacity 15″ pizza
- Weight 56 pounds
All the Cru ovens are handcrafted in Portugal, using tried and tested methods and high-quality materials. The Cru 32 is built from a dual layer of durable 304 stainless steel, ceramic fiber insulation, and Cordite pizza stones. These ovens are built to last and can withstand a lifetime of high heat and use.
The Cru 32 is an upgrade on the earlier Cru 30 model, and judging by the changes they’ve made, we can see that Cru really put some thought into the upgrade.
The main difference is improved thermal-efficiency thanks to a heat deflector added to the dome, which increases heat retention. And the second significant change is the size. The Cru 32 has a much larger cooking space than the 30, yet thanks to the removal of the large chimney it doesn’t take up much more space than the old model.
This oven can cook 15″ inch pizzas, but it’s also tall, so it can easily accommodate large roasting tins with joints of meat, casserole dishes, and pots. And, with the addition of a grill, it can be transformed into a barbeque or used for campfire-style cooking. This is where the Cru model 32 really excels – being an all-around wood-fired oven for a variety of outdoor cooking rather than only pizza.
Unfortunately, with the larger cooking space comes an 11″ opening, which, while useful for versatility and maneuverability, allows heat to escape. This can pose a problem for pizza. However, Cru provides two door options to reduce this problem, a full door that closes the oven completely, ideal for roasting or using charcoal, and a half door for use when making pizza. The half-door cuts down the opening while allowing you to see and rotate your pizza. You will need to keep this in place at all times when making pizza. Although this reduces heat loss, it doesn’t remove the problem entirely. This oven preheats slower and loses heat faster than some other ovens in its price range. As a result, you really need to keep a large flame fueled in the back.
Max Heat and Preheat Time
Cru says the oven reaches a top temperature of 900° F in around 30 minutes and cooks a delicious, Neapolitan-style pizza in 90 seconds. We found that it takes closer to 40 minutes for a proper preheat for pizza. These are decent speeds for a wood fired pizza oven; however, thanks to that wide opening (the door helps but it’s not insulated), this oven can lose heat during cooking. So if you want to cook multiple pizzas, we’d recommend checking the temperature gauge and the heat of the pizza stone between bakes to allow a proper re-heat. An initial preheat of 45 minutes helps reduce the between-bake reheats.
Set-Up and Use
Some assembly is required with the Cru 32 as the oven is delivered in six pieces. However, it’s such a straightforward procedure that their demonstration video takes less than a minute.
It’s just a case of standing the base on an appropriate surface, putting the two halves of the Cordite pizza stone into position, slotting the hood, flue and door into place, and you’re ready to cook!
This oven is easy to assemble and easy to use with no fiddly features or complicated technology. Start by lighting your fire in the center of the oven. Once it’s burning well, push the fire to the back of the oven, add the half door and allow it to preheat. Once the oven reaches optimum temperature – which you can easily monitor thanks to the built-in thermometer – slide your pizza in.
You need to keep an eye on the pizza and turn it regularly so that all areas of the crust get their chance to bubble next to that rear fire. Then, once it’s done, remove the pizza and enjoy.
To cook multiple pizzas, check the temperature gauge and the heat of the pizza stone in case they’ve dropped. If necessary restoke the fire and reheat the oven before getting that next pizza in there.
Once done, allow the fire to burn out and the oven to cool completely before cleaning.
The Cru 32 can cook so much more than just pizza. Thanks to the internal size, two door choices, and grill accessory, there’s no limit to what you can cook in this oven.
You have three main options:
- Move the fire to the back of the oven and place pizzas, flatbreads, steaks, or skillets directly onto the pizza stones. Use the half door and watch as your meals cooks rapidly.
- Move the fire to the back of the oven, slide an oven tray or casserole dish into the oven and close it up with the full door. This is ideal for roasting joints of meat, seafood, ribs or trays of vegetables.
- Leave the fire burning in the center of the oven and add the Cru Grill Grid. This sits above the flames and transforms the oven into a barbeque. Perfect for grilling burgers, steaks, skewers, corn, and well, anything really.
One of the best features of this oven is how easy it is to clean. The removable dome is a game-changer that sets this oven apart from most other ovens on the market.
Once you’ve allowed your oven to cool completely, simply lift off the dome with the easy handles, exposing the inside of the oven. Sweep the ash and embers away and remove the Cordite pizza stones to clean separately. Brush and wipe the stainless steel inside until all soot and ash are gone, and then reassemble, ready for next time.
What we think
We’re definitely fans of the Cru 32. We like the versatility it provides with all that cooking space and the grill accessory. We also like the look and the thoughtful design, and we love the removable hood and how easy it is to clean.
But what stops the Cru 32 from being in the same league as those high-end ovens, is that it doesn’t retain the heat quite as well as they do. Their extra layers of insulation and smaller interior dimensions mean they hold the heat in much better.
The Cru 32 is a quality choice for a low to mid range wood-fired oven. It’s solid enough to be a permanent feature of your backyard yet light enough to be portable when necessary. And it’s ideal for anyone who wants the versatility of an oven/pizza oven/barbeque all in one.