Fuggedaboutit: New York City Considers Pizza Oven Ban

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June 26, 2023

Proposed environmental regulations in New York City could end the use of wood- and coal-fired ovens in many of the city's historic pizza restaurants.

"All New Yorkers deserve to breathe healthy air and wood and coal-fired stoves are among the largest contributors of harmful pollutants in neighborhoods with poor air quality," Ted Timbers, spokesman for the city's Department of Environmental Protection, said on Sunday. "This common-sense rule, developed with restaurant and environmental justice groups, requires a professional review of whether installing emission controls is feasible."

The rule, if implemented, could force pizza owners who use coal- or wood-fired ovens installed before May 2016 to purchase expensive devices that control emissions. The mandate would require restaurants to cut pizza oven emissions by 75 percent, the New York Post reported.

Restaurant owners would have to pay for an official to examine the kitchen and determine how to reduce pollution. Owners who can't make it work or can't afford the device need to prove hardship to receive a pass from the city government.

One pizza restaurant owner told the Post the mandate would destroy his product and cost a "fortune."

"If you f—k around with the temperature in the oven you change the taste," the restaurateur, who asked to remain anonymous, said. "That pipe, that chimney, it’s that size to create the perfect updraft, keeps the temp perfect, it’s an art as much as a science. You take away the char, the thing that makes the pizza taste great, you kill it."

"And for what? You really think that you’re changing the environment with these eight or nine pizza ovens?!" he added.

The proposal comes after New York became the first state to ban natural gas connections in new buildings. Beginning in 2026, new buildings with seven or fewer stories will have to use induction and electric devices. Larger buildings will make the transition in 2029.

The city's focus on environmental bans comes amid rising crime. Violent crime is up in the subway compared with 2020, with 132 felony assaults in the first quarter of 2023. Last year, a black nationalist gunned down 13 people in a Brooklyn subway station.

In May, a man believed to be homeless pushed a 35-year old woman in front of a train, leaving her paralyzed from the neck down.

Published under: New York City