Sunset Modern

I have long been envious of my friend Abbie’s outdoor pizza oven. I admire the frequency with which she entertains, using the pizza oven as a gathering spot for guests.  After all, it is food that creates a sense of community, that connects even the most polar opposite of personalities.  I somehow missed the “pizza oven boat” when along came the opportunity for me and Hubby to design the outdoor space in our new home.  And, to be fair, I had never made a pizza from scratch before. So what would make me think that building a pizza oven would magically change that.  “If you build it, they will come”?

Something certainly divine intervened when I received word of Sunset Modern Living, a store on Cave Creek Road that promotes everything about outdoor living, with a focus on free-standing Portuguese pizza ovens. Owner Penny Warring recently opened this sunny space that, in addition to the ovens, sells everything you would need to make pizza, from the pizza peel to the ash bucket, to Chef Chris Bianco’s canned tomatoes and the olive oil he uses in his restaurants, Pizzeria Bianco and Pane Bianco. As well, in collaboration with a sister who owns a store in LA called Amsterdam Modern, Penny sells vintage and custom-made mid-century modern outdoor furniture, along with Turkish kilim rugs, mid-century West German ceramics, concrete planters, and some very cool cobbler’s benches.


A collection of candles and pizza slicers on a cobbler’s bench


Outdoor furniture


All things pizza: semolina flour, Chris Bianco’s tomato sauce, and pizza peels


Chef Chris Bianco’s canned tomatoes


Kilim pillows and rugs


Mid-century West German ceramics



At Sunset Modern, or online at, there are three oven types that range in price from $1,200 to $1,500: the Maximus, the Lisboa, and the Famosi. Fabricated in a village just north of Lisbon, each oven is insulated with a layer of brick and mortar, cement, and rock wool packed with another layer of cement. I love the size of these ovens…you could literally put them almost anywhere…on top of an existing counter or Penny can make a stand for you. For example, the black Maximus pictured below (on a stand that is sold separately) weighs a mere 150 pounds, heats up in 20 minutes, and can cook a pizza in 4 minutes.  The Maximus is 39″ wide by 39″ deep by 30″ high. All ovens burn on average 4-5 pounds of hard wood, the recommended types being pecan, walnut, or mesquite. Did I mention shipping in the continental US is free?  Giddy up!


The Famosi


Close up of the Famosi


The Lisboa crated for shipment


The Maximus comes in black…


…and red.

Penny hosts monthly cooking workshops catered by Dani Made This in the “usable urban concrete kitchen” at the back of Sunset Modern. The classes are called Playing With Fire, in which Dani cooks the entire meal in the pizza ovens, in addition to demonstrating how to light the fire in the oven and a quick tutorial on curing the oven. From her last class, the recipes included Wood-Roasted Chickpeas, Rosemary-Chipotle Nuts, Roasted Carrots with Arugula Pesto, Pizza and Toppings, and Mexican Chocolate Pots de Crème. The next one is Thursday, November 19. I am signed up…what are you waiting for?


The “usable urban concrete kitchen” is available for parties and events through Sunset Modern.

Penny rents the outdoor space (picture above) for events, and has mobile pizza oven on a trailer for rent as well (see contact information below). Can’t catch the cooking class on November 19? Head over to Sunset Modern on December 1st for a holiday trunk show between 12 and 3. Taste the some of the wood-fired pizza while shopping from valley vendors and 10-15% of the proceeds will go toward Hospice of the Valley.



Sunset Modern

13236 Cave Creek Rd.

Phoenix, AZ  85032


I was so inspired by my visit to Sunset Modern that I made homemade pizza dough with the kids from an online recipe recommended by Dani Made This.  It was a big hit, as the kids proclaimed it was the best pizza ever…wait till they taste it out of our new pizza oven! (To Hubby: we have a wedding anniversary coming up, hint, hint, nudge, nudge.)

Jim Lahey’s No Knead Pizza Dough

3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 t. active dry yeast

2 t. fine sea salt

1 1/2 cups water

In a medium bowl, thoroughly blend flour, yeast and salt.  Add the water, and with your hands, mix well and form into a ball.  I found that at this point, I should have covered the ball with a fine layer of flour to prevent sticking.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it sit 8-18 hours.  Time varies depending on temperature and humidity in your kitchen.  Flour a work surface.  Divide into 2-4 equal parts.  For each portion, start with the right side of the dough and pull it toward the center; then do the same with the left, then the top, then the bottom. (The order doesn’t actually matter; what you want is four folds.) Shape each portion into a round and turn seam side down. Mold the dough into a neat circular mound. The mounds should not be sticky; if they are, dust with more flour.  If you don’t intend to use the dough right away, wrap the balls individually in plastic and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Return to room temperature by leaving them out on the counter, covered in a damp cloth to prevent from drying out. To shape, Lahey recommends lifting the disk in the air and stretching it by rotating it on your knuckles.

Buon Appetito!

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