Meet the Maker: Vittorio Senerchia, of Napolitanos Ovens

Mobile Wood Fired Oven

Mobile Wood Fired Oven

Vittorio Senerchia , of Napolitanos Pizza, reached out to us in the early planning stages of Gulf Coast MakerCon 2016, originally interested in bringing out his homemade mobile oven to sell pizzas at Gulf Coast MakerCon. Due to Fairgrounds restrictions, he’s not able to do that, so he’s bringing out his oven to showcase his craftsmanship.

We asked him to tell us more about his ovens, which we admit will make you hungry for pizza, but which we think is also an exemplary example of the consummate Maker!

Meet Vittorio Senerchia!

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I have been building what I needed since age 8. I grew up outside Philadelphia, PA. loving pizza.

My mother made a fine whole wheat thick crust southern Italian pizza and many of the local small pizzerias made a fine thinner crust pie. In recent years as I traveled the west coast I discovered some shops making a crisp thin crust pie that has become my favorite pizza style. It is the dry high heat of a hard wood fire actually in the oven, on the baking deck and the low ceiling oven design that allows the high gluten dough made from very finely ground pastry quality imported flour to bake into a strong yet light and crispy crust.

Most pizza makers in the US bake in a gas or electric oven at 500ºF – 650ºF. When cooking pizza in a wood oven, the deck is kept at 650ºF – 850ºF, with the air in the oven at 800ºF – 1000ºF. The other requirement I had for my unit is the ability to control the fermentation speed of the dough. The humidity and the high temperatures here in Florida cause the dough manager difficulty. I built a refrigerator that could hold my dough boxes to help me manage this process.

After working with a mason building a backyard pizza oven for a chef, I realized that a 9cbc836c-23ca-46b0-9ec9-f24e4e8e0307brick oven was impractical as a mobile oven. Both the weight and the vibration of over the road travel caused me to look for a better oven material. I discovered precast concrete.

These too turned out to be too heavy and not practical for me. Then I discovered that some importers were beginning to bring in stainless steel pizza ovens. After speaking with some manufacturers of wood oven liners and metallurgists in the US, I realized that thin stainless steel was a viable option. Over this period I had developed the internal dimensions of the pizza oven I wanted to have.

Oven specsI super insulated the stainless steel oven liner with ceramic kiln insulation which resulted in a high temperature oven that burns very little wood. I was able to get, at auction, a recreation trailer with a good frame. I traded for a used Chicago Electric 90 amp flux core welder and a metal cutting chop saw and built my oven in place, piece by piece, after I had developed detailed working drawings and a material list.

I will have some images and stories of the process at Gulf Coast MakerCon at the fairgrounds on April 9th.

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You can see Vittorio’s homemade wood fire mobile oven, and hear about his build process,  at Gulf Coast MakerCon on April 9, at the Florida State Fairgrounds.

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