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Customer of the Month: Thomas Calabrese

Authentic Pizza Ovens are beautifully handmade and crafted by some of the finest artisans in Portugal and have become a pillar of enjoyment for people from all around.

Our ovens create an inviting atmosphere and are one of the best ways to entertain family and friends while embracing traditional-style cooking and creating memories that will last a lifetime.  

Spring is one of the busiest times of the year when the warmer weather welcomes people outdoors to engage in the fun Spring festivities, and for a lot of people, enhance their backyard spaces to celebrate the new season. 

It is simply one of the best times to celebrate the endless possibilities of our ovens and host pizza nights after baseball games, cook wood-fired BBQ for your friends and neighbors, or simply treat yourself to a refreshing cocktail and a savory steak dinner in the cozy vibes of your very own backyard space.

Meet Thomas Calabrese of Matawan, NJ, and read about how he enjoys the limitless possibilities of his Lisboa Stone Arch Premium oven by cooking various foods ranging from pizza, eggplant, shrimp, and so much more. 

Where are you from and a little background information on you?

My name is Thomas Calabrese and I am from Brooklyn, NY. I am happily married to my wife, Maria, whom I met through my mother and sister who set us up on a date.

We haven't looked back since and together we share three beautiful children; two daughters ages 6 and 3, and we just welcomed our new precious baby boy a few months ago. We couldn't be more smitten with him and in love with all our children!

I have been an iron worker for over fifteen years in New York City and my wife works in the medical field as an OBGYN. My wife and I both share an Italian heritage from Naples, Italy, where some of our family still reside.

We enjoy traveling as much as we can and love visiting all-inclusive resorts. By far, Aruba has been our favorite venture with its beautiful weather, and we love the waterparks in Jamaica.

We've explored so many beautiful places and are total foodies- We love to try different foods from all around the world! We also enjoy making wine and going fishing as much as possible. We go on charter boats throughout the year with our friends and have the best time!

We are genuinely family-orientated and we love to spend time together at our home, especially in our outdoor kitchen cooking our favorite recipes and trying new foods in our woodfired pizza oven.

My greatest joy and accomplishment in life is my family, there is nothing better in life quite like spending quality time with your family and those you love! 

Which oven did you choose and why did you choose an Authentic Pizza Oven?

We chose the Lisboa Stone Arch Premium oven because we loved the overall design and the fact that the oven was handmade in Portugal with quality authentic materials.

The rich shade of the slate stone and mortar facade of this oven compliments our outdoor space perfectly! We were impressed by the consistently positive customer reviews about Authentic Pizza Ovens which made our decision even easier and ultimately led us to purchase our oven.

We have loved the versatility of the oven in that we aren't just limited to cooking pizza and can enjoy all our favorite dishes. There's nothing like true Italian-style Neapolitan pizza or a wood-fired steak!

We have been very pleased with how well the oven maintains temperature with its triple-insulated design. We've cooked a variety of dishes, especially pizza and our dough comes out perfectly each time!

Also, we love that we can cook freshly baked bread hours after we've cooked in the oven. Some of our best times have been spent with family and friends cooking in our woodfired oven, and we enjoy sitting around the open fire and sipping on a refreshing drink to ease the hustle and bustle of life! 

Did you build a setup or have someone else do it?

Being an ironworker with many years of experience, I had a vision for my outdoor setup and built it myself. Our foundation is made with marbly shades of white, grey, and charcoal-color pavers, and the base for our oven and countertop space is made with cinderblocks.

Our countertop is granite with the same shade of colors as our floor space with hues of natural brown tones bringing it all together seamlessly.

Most recently, I customized our oven with Mozaic recycled glass and we love how great it turned out! It matches the stone facade of our oven and adds character brilliantly.

Everything has turned out great! It has all the modern and cozy vibes and has become our favorite place to spend time together with family and friends! 

What is your favorite thing to cook in your oven? And have you tried other foods besides pizza?

Coming from an Italian background, naturally, pizza is my favorite thing to cook! We have also cooked steak and shrimp, eggplant, freshly baked Focaccia bread with buffalo mozzarella, woodfired calzones, sandwiches, and so much more!

The versatility of all the foods you can cook in Authentic Pizza Ovens is endless, not to mention, the woodfired taste of all the food is unmatched! 

Woodfired Steak


Steak cut of your choice
Olive oil
Salt & Pepper
Rosemary, and smashed garlic cloves (if desired)


1. Heat your woodfired pizza oven to approximately 700 to 750 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. Allow your steak to rest at room temperature.

3. Rub the steak with olive oil and season the steak liberally on both sides with salt and pepper (You can also use any of your favorite steak seasoning as desired).

4. Place the steak in a well-seasoned cast iron pan or on a grill rack and set inside your wood-fired oven.

5. Cook the steak for approximately 3 to 4 minutes. (Adjust the time based on the thickness of your steak).

6. Remove the steak and add butter to the top of the steak. (Add Rosemary and garlic if desired).

7. Place your steak back into your oven and cook the steak for approximately 2 to 3 minutes more.

8. Use a long-handled spoon and ladle the butter on top of the steaks then flip the steaks and ladle the butter on the other side.

9. Cook your steak to your desired preference.

10. Remove the steak and allow to rest for 5 minutes before slicing and serving.


Wood-Roasted Eggplant Parmigiano


3 large eggplants
Olive oil spray
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic
4 cups canned San Marzano tomatoes, whole with juice
Pinch of cinnamon
1⁄2 cup fresh basil leaves, torn into 2 – 3 pieces
1 pound fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
1⁄2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano


1. Heat your wood-fired oven to approximately 550 to 625 degrees Fahrenheit depending on your environment.

2. Peel the eggplants and then slice them into 1/2-inch rounds; set them on an oiled sheet pan.

3. Place the eggplant into your wood-fired oven and roast for approximately 2 minutes, or until the top sides are lightly browned. Turn the eggplant slices over and repeat with the other side.

4. When lightly browned on both sides and slightly tender, remove them from your oven and sprinkle with salt; set aside.

5. Place a large sauté pan with olive oil into your wood-fired oven and heat, then add garlic and cook for approximately 1 minute.

6. Add tomatoes and cinnamon to your pan and cook for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the tomatoes break easily with the back of a spoon.

7. Remove and set aside. (Sauce may be prepared two days in advance and stored in the refrigerator.)

8. Oil the inside of your Portuguese terra cotta dish and line the bottom with the slices of eggplant. Cover with the tomato sauce and top with one-third of the basil leaves and one-third of the mozzarella.

9. Sprinkle with one-third of the Parmigiano. Repeat two more layers with the remaining ingredients. Drizzle the top of the completed dish with olive oil.

10. Place into your wood-fired oven and cook for 20 to 30 minutes, or until heated through and bubbling slightly. (Do not overcook or allow to boil or cheese will be rubbery.)

11. Remove and let rest for 10 minutes before serving.





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