Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Lampus Paves Way to Pizza Ovens

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Lampus Paves Way to Pizza Ovens

Article excerpt

In 40 years of working at R.I. Lampus Co., Bob Welling has come up with some pretty good ideas for new cast concrete products. In the time he has been trying out one of them, a wood-fired oven, he has gotten pretty good at making pizza, too.

As two hungry reporters watched, Mr. Welling slid a cheese and pepperoni pie through the arched opening and onto a 600- or 700- degree brick hearth. Within 30 seconds, mozzarella cheese on the side closest to the burning logs started bubbling so he and his steel peel began turning. A minute later it was done -- and delicious.

"I've practiced a lot," he said. "It's fun."

From 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. today, Springdale-based Lampus will be serving up pizza and a preview of its new Lifestyle Collection (www.lampus.com) at its annual outdoor living expo at the Syria Shrine Center, 1877 Shriners Way, Cheswick (15024). Mr. Welling is expecting hundreds of visitors to come see three working ovens, firepits, bars, benches, countertops, flaming columns, outdoor kitchens and other concrete items.

Mr. Welling's favorite is the oven, which sells for $3,989 as a build-it-yourself kit and $7,595 already assembled. But it's just one piece of Lampus' response to the growing demand for outdoor dining/entertaining spaces. It's a bold new path for an 88-year-old company best known for Omni-Stone pavers and Versa-Lok wall blocks. Over the past 15-20 years, Mr. Welling said a big part of his job as vice president of the concrete products division has been to come up with new products. Luckily for him, the public seems to like the things that interest him, like the pizza oven.

When he started baking in one several years ago, he quickly discovered "wood-fired oven people are kinda like a cult." Soon he was spending 20-30 minutes kneading homemade dough and baking bread. That required letting the fire die down to about 400 degrees and placing a steel door in the opening. He's also made roasts and chicken in an earthenware container called a Chicken Brick. …

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