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The Mugnaini Oven: Cooking with Fire
Wednesday, March 07, 2012
Here's a softball confidence-building question for today if you're having a rough day: what do The Terrace Grill's crispy pizzas, red pepper bisque and roasted cauliflower have in common? If you guessed that some component is prepared using our Mugnaini wood-fired oven, you're correct! See, your day is getting better already.
The Mugnaini oven is literally the beating heart of our kitchen with almost all of our dishes having some component or another (or the whole dish) prepared in it. Red bell peppers are slow roasted until they yield a deeper, smokier flavor; meats, especially game, take on a satisfying rustic flavor that harkens back to the days of cooking game quarry over an open fire.
The Rolls Royce of wood-fired pizza ovens, Mugnaini has perfected the art and science of food preparation in their specially designed ovens. It all started when Andrea Mugnaini travelled to Italy seeking the best pizza oven possible. Everyone pointed her to the traditional Valoriani oven, the patented benchmark of wood-fire ovens.
Before WW2 Italian villages used large communal wood-fired ovens, but in the aftermath of the war, many of these were destroyed. Enter Sylvio Valoriani, president of Refrattari Reggello, the company of artistans which had been making wood-fired ovens since the 1890s, and charged by the Italian government to come up with a quick solution to replace the ovens that had an immense cultural and logistic important to many Italian communities. Signor Valoriani's solution was to produce family size wood-burning ovens from cotto refractario (refractory clay) quarried from the hills of Tuscany. These newly designed ovens were far more fuel efficient and had great heat retention allowing individual families to afford their own ovens. Valoriani patented his unique ovens in 1945 and has been recognized as the "original Italian wood-burning oven" ever since.
Today, Mugnaini pizza ovens are hand crafted by Refratarri Valoriani and retain the soul of those original ovens. They are a hybrid of the original Valoriani oven, using their residential dome design and commercial grade floor for a unique combination resulting in quick start-up times and professional-quality and consistent results from a stable cooking temperature.
Andrea's efforts have resulted in a much-sought after oven used by the likes of Guy Fieri (he owns a residential oven) as well as restaurants all over the country looking for the character and quality of food prepared in the ovens. There are only a handful of restaurants in Texas that have a Mugnaini oven and Riven Rock Ranch has two, one in The Terrace Grill and one in La Cocina.
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