The Spark That Fueled Our Founders’ Culinary Dream
Much like all segments of the food industry, people come to the custom pizza oven sector from various backgrounds. When the Marra brothers created Marra Forni, it was their love of authentic Italian food and the culinary culture of their native Naples, Italy that inspired them. In honor of National Culinary Arts Month, we’re sharing a piece of their incredible journey and discussing how their dream began….
When the Marra brother emigrated in 1995 to the U.S. from Naples, Italy, they immediately began working in the food industry. Francesco Marra was a professional chef who ran the kitchens of some of DC’s most prominent Italian restaurants. With both his culinary knowledge and back of the house experience, he was able to witness first-hand the type of ovens that would work best not only in various type spaces but also for different types of business as well.
It is precisely this type of hands-on insight that came in handy when Marra Forni was was conceived in 2011. As Francesco witnessed many years ago, the one-size fits all modality is as outdated and inappropriate for ovens as it is for clothing. “We enjoy creating new innovative ideas and solutions to respond to our clients’ demands,” said Francesco and his brother Enzo. We now manufacture ovens which work in a wide variety of physical spaces and can use wood, gas, or electric heating (including our newest ventless option). Our double-mouth rotator allows for easier high volume pizza-making from even lesser experienced pizzaioli, which addresses two increasingly important needs of restaurateurs outside of Italy.
Marra Forni started out as a sister company of Euro Gourmet and Euro Restaurant Solutions, which brothers Francesco and Emiliano started in 1999 to import specialty foods from Italy. They got into the pizza oven business after a client asked if they could get him one from Italy. With increased requests and a desire to make a better product with a quicker turn-around time and customization options that the Italian manufacturers were not willing to create, the brothers opened Marra Forni in 2011. Their main goal was to create something different – a sleek style that combined Italian tradition with American technology.
Since Enzo Marra came from a technical and electronic background, he took it upon himself to learn how to produce the ovens more efficiently by working with experienced engineers. Using a mixture of materials – the ovens are made of Italian bricks, metal, and volcanic pumice stone for insulation.
“Approximately 80% of the materials and all of the electronics are American,” says Enzo. “We really modernized the look. Before, they were a lot more traditional,” Francesco said of the ovens. “We made it into something in a more modern Italian style.” They also use newer technology and constantly evaluate restaurant requests to fuel their passion for innovation.
Now in its 8th year, Marra Forni has become an award-winning, VPN certified leader in the pizza oven industry. Our staff has grown from 4 to 55 people with numerous partners and contractors as part of their expended team. We produce approximately 400 ovens per year with over 10 domestic and 2 international test kitchens to try them out in. Known as the “Ferraris of the pizza oven world,” Marra Forni’s ovens can be spotted everywhere from Whole Foods to Food Network shows, hospitals, military bases, and the world’s foremost food and pizza festivals. While their culinary visions continue to grow, both Francesco and Enzo Marra believe that they and Marra Forni have achieved a “small slice of the American dream.”