While many places use gas or oil to keep the temperature steady through the day, Revolution House’s Chef Luca Sena, Jr., believes that would ruin the flavor of the oven. He burns red oak instead.
As legend has it, the wood-burning pizza oven at Revolution House in Old City was built by a man in a three-piece suit.
The materials, made from three different kinds of stone (some from Mount Vesuvius), were shipped bit by bit via freighter to Philadelphia from Napoli and Sorrento, the “king and queen of pizza,” said Chef Luca Sena, Jr.
“The sand, the brick, it all came at different times. We had the guy come with it. A real classy guy,” he said. “Sharp, slick. If you looked at his hands, you’d never think he was a contractor.”
While under construction, the oven was covered from view to veil its progress, said Sena.
It was tempered at over 1,000 degrees.
It cracked, was resealed, and then finally it was ready to go, he explained. The finished product is actually an homage to its neighborhood, covered in white subway tile and set back from the frame, mirroring the SEPTA station that can be seen caddy-corner across the street.
While many places use gas or oil to keep the temperature steady through the day, Sena believes that would ruin the flavor of the oven. He burns red oak instead.
The wood is broken down into small pieces and lit with a bit of paper. That’s all it takes to get things running. Once the oven is heated to its ideal 850 to 900 degree temperature, the 10.5 inch pizzas cook in about 60 to 70 seconds
In keeping with his heritage and tradition, Sena serves Neapolitan pizzas.
“We have the margarita, the marinara, the sausage and broccoli rabe,” he said. “This kind of style is not made to have lots of ingredients.”
They also offer a white pizza with cauliflower and asiago. It held up as an exceptionally solid contender in what has proven to be an adventure in pizza crusts: doughy around the egde, but sturdy through the slice and finished with just a little olive oil and salt.
While Revolution House is a pretty new to the neighborhood, its bones go back over 60 years. The Snow White Diner stood in its place for generations until John Poulas and Luca Sena, Sr. (owner of Panorama and La Famiglia) decided they were ready for something new, closed the doors, and began a two-and-a-half year long construction project to reopen in June 2011 as Revolution House.