New England Patriots fans add wood-fired pizza oven to tailgating party
FOXBOROUGH — When Rich Caturano decided to add a wood-fired pizza oven to his Gloucester home four years ago, it didn’t take long for one thought to rush into his head.
“I said, ‘Wouldn’t it be great to have one of these for tailgating?’ ” Caturano recalled. “It’s traditional, it’s nice.”
A year later, Caturano and Peter Carbone partnered to purchase a 6,000-pound oven from Forno Bravo, and they have been enjoying pizza at Patriots games ever since.
Sunday was no different, as Caturano, Carbone, and their friends were cooking pizzas, calzones, and mac and cheese in the Gillette Stadium parking lot before the game against the Dolphins.
“We cook everything in it, not just pizza,” said Caturano, whose son, Anthony, is the chef and owner of the restaurant Prezza in Boston’s North End. “We inspire each other. Sometimes we do lobsters. You cut it up, and it comes out really good.”
Carbone is responsible for hitching the oven — which was painted by Danilchuck Auto Body to replicate a Patriots helmet — to his Cadillac Escalade and driving it to Foxborough.
“We make sure we have a full tank of gas before we leave the house, that’s for sure,” Carbone said. “We go through half a tank getting it here and pretty much the same to get back.”
It didn’t take long for the oven to become a hit in the parking lot. The first year they had it, 2010, Patriots owner Robert Kraft stopped by and got a pizza-making lesson.
Throughout the day, they’ll use 20-25 pieces of wood to keep the oven hovering around 750 degrees, although Caturano said the temperature can climb as high as 900 degrees.
On Sunday, Ryan Hutchins was turning around pizzas faster than Peyton Manning could franchise a Papa John’s restaurant.
“It was a little too cold before, but now it’s around 700 degrees. It only takes seven minutes to make a pizza,” Hutchins said. “Rich is the pro since he has one in his house.”
Carbone also takes the coals from the oven and uses them to power a grill, where on Sunday he was cooking Kobe beef burgers made by Caturano.
“Everyone chips in,” Carbone said. “My favorite thing is after the games, whatever left over dough and food is left, we make calzones out of it.”
Mark Allara, a season ticket-holder since 1992 and a good friend of Carbone’s, brings the seafood, a variety of fine wines, and the TV. On Sunday, it was swordfish, shrimp, lobster, and stuffed clams.
“Everyone does a signature pizza,” Allara said. “I do a white pizza with shrimp. We’ve had grills, a bunch of other ways to prepare food, but the oven was the major addition.”