Traditional Pizza Ravanesi Pizzeria Napoletana Owner David Ravanesi makes his fior di latte cheese in-house, and his traditional long-fermented dough has exceptional flavor and texture. That accounts for the sublime Neapolitan pies that emerge from the giant wood-burning pizza oven.
The pizza scene in the Philadelphia area is a hotly debated, often contentious topic. To make the vast Philadelphia-proper scene even more confusin, let's add the great pizza of the 'burbs to the mix. Philly may have the best pizza in the country, with Pizzeria Beddia, but South Jersey, MontCo, and DelCo hold it down as well. Ravanesi is modeled after the Neapolitan pizza of Napoli, and Dave Ravanesi's obsession is apparent in the product.
Located in a small strip mall in Glen Mills for two years now, you would not notice this place as you drove by at night, until you see the line of people out the door. They have seven pizzas on the menu. That is it. BYOB, no reservations, and no take-out on the weekends. When you are this good, you make the rules.
Dave is a great guy, hand making every pie, start to finish. He puts a level of attention into them that I have only seen by my buddy Joe Beddia. Indeed, I said it, the pizza here reminded quite a bit of Joey's pies.
Dave uses a no-yeast, 38 hour dough that lends itself to the blistering perfection and ease of manipulation. He never has more than 3 pies in his custom wood-fired oven (all hardwoods, of course, with an oak preference) and he keeps them moving so there's little loss of heat and they cook consistently in a matter of minutes. By the time I got mine, I was drooling. Not that this was an aberration from my general state of consciousness, but this time it was food related. On top is the Sopressata Piccante, topped with San Marzano tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, spicy sopressata, Parmigiano Reggiano, chili flakes, garlic, & extra-virgin olive oil. On the bottom, a traditional Margherita, boasting San Marzano tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, Parmigiano Reggiano, fresh basil, extra-virgin olive oil & sea salt.
Look at the color on that crust. The fluffy, crunchy dough is unbelievable, with a perfectly browned hue. The sauce had the zip of the San Marzano tomatoes, and was perfect in its simplicity. The mozzarella is made in-house, and was rich and creamy with a velvety texture. Finished with basil leaves, this pie is simple perfection. Easily one of the best Margheritas I have ever tasted.
My favorite, unsurprisingly, had the extra addition of salty meat. Spicy soppressata with chili flakes made this pizza shine. Again, the crust was perfectly baked, the toppings beyond reproach, and the execution phenomenal.
This place blew away my expectations, and I encourage you to check it out as well. The only thing I can say is, if you go early to avoid a wait, be prepared for a lot of kids. Not that it's a bad thing, but it's something to be ready for. Also, don't forget the wine.
The focus here is on quality over quantity, which is why restaurant hours are from 4:30 p.m. until the dough runs out. Wood-fired pizzas are baked in a 1,000-degree oven from Italy, finished with house-made fior di latte and a selection of exceptional toppings. Come early, bring your favorite bottle, and savor a taste of Naples.
By Nathan Greenwood, The Town Dish.com April 6, 2015
It’s 5:30 p.m. on a Friday night in Glen Mills, and there is a line out the door. This is the kind of popularity that all restaurants strive for, and the type of cult following that Ravanesi Pizzeria Napoletana has. With limited hours (read: until out of dough) and limited menu offerings, the focus here is truly on quality over quantity, and that’s what keeps people coming back … in droves.
Ravanesi doesn’t even do takeout on their busiest nights because as chef and owner Dave Ravanesi says, “This food is meant to be consumed right away, hot out of the oven.” I had the chance to catch up with Dave and ask him some in-depth questions about his love for making and sharing great Neapolitan-style pizza. Here’s what he had to say:
The Town Dish: Your website says that your dough takes 30 hours to make. Can you tell us more about the process?
Dave Ravanesi: I made a natural starter about five years ago and have been working with it for years. The fermentation process is a touchy one, as sourdough cultures can be acidic. I personally don’t like it too acidic. This is about the length of fermentation time that works for me. I’ve tried every which way. There really are no big secrets. It more depends on the time it takes to reach the flavor profile I like. My dough mixes very little. I let time and folding work the dough.
It depends—it’s tough to say. Pizza is so diverse in the range it has. I’m all over the place. I like when people push the boundaries and try different things. I know a lot of purists, but I like it all, even if I wouldn’t eat it every day.
Italian is number one, but I love Mexican food. Italian and Mexican I can live off of—the hotter the better.
Any recommended beverage pairings for the Ravanesi menu?
I originally thought about doing that, but what I realized is people like different things all the time. There are so many diverse palates—whatever you want to drink with it is good by me. My thing is I want you to enjoy yourself.
I’ll say this: first of all it’s got to be in balance. The key to all good food is that there’s a balance. You have five senses and (as a cook) you’re playing against those. The perfect pizza has a crisp and light crust, one that has a crunch but is tender. I tend to prefer a chewier dough. Balance of the ingredients, where none are overpowering the others, is key. All the ingredients in harmony, that’s the goal for me.
6:40 p.m.—but I was making pizzas until after 8 p.m., which is why I don’t do takeout orders on Friday or Saturday anymore. This particular product is not meant to travel anyway.
There’s a few things I’d like to do, but it wouldn’t stick to the traditional Neapolitan pizzas. I’m working with some smoked speck … we’ll see. If it’s really a wow factor then I’ll put it on there, otherwise I won’t. What’s the point of having an item on the menu that’s not to die for?
Luckily for me, catching up with Dave also meant indulging in some of Ravanesi’s delicious pizzas straight from the oven. Dave’s pizzas are demonstrative of his attention to detail, as well as to how wonderfully he has honed his craft. The flavors, textures and balance of toppings were in perfect harmony with the slightly chewy, yet tender and crisp crust.
It’s evident that Ravanesi’s house-made fior di latte and pizza dough are central to the pies, which showcase only fresh, top-quality ingredients. For people who love great Neapolitan-style pizza, Ravanesi is the perfect place to enjoy pizza of uncompromising quality, baked by a true craftsman. Be sure to check them out online and on their Facebook page.
By Kathleen Carey, Delaware County Daily Times
Thursday, April 10, 2014
CONCORD — It’s a tiny, 28-seat pizzeria tucked into a mostly vacant strip mall along Baltimore Pike. It only has seven items on its menu. And it’s only been open for three weeks.
But customer demand has forced Ravanesi Pizzeria Napoletana to close early some Fridays and Saturdays because he runs out of his delectible hand-made pizza dough.
“When you come here,” David Ravanesi, the entrepreneur’s father, said, “it’s an experience that you’ll remember. (My son) puts his heart and soul into this place.”
Some might ask why - why another pizza place in Delaware County?
“It’s not another pizza place,” the owner, also David Ravanesi, said. “It’s not another pizza place. (Locals) don’t have Napoletana pizza, they have regular pizza.”
The story of the restaurant’s opening began 20 years ago at the Italian island resort of Capri when Ravanesi found the perfect pizza. “I remember it being very oily,” the 46-year-old Boston native said. “I was like, ‘What the heck?’ But, the flavor was unbelievable.”
He continued to taste test through Naples, Italy, where he found the perfect oven.
And, then it began - an obsession with pizza. “I think it’s the simplicity of it,” he said. “To make something so beautiful from just a few products.”
Some of the customers of his new business share that passion.
“We get a lot of people who order a pizza to go and they see it come out of the oven so fast,” said Ravanesi. “They go, ‘Oh, I want to eat a slice before I go.’ And, they’ve eaten the whole pizza before they’ve gotten to the door.”
His 5,500 pound oven itself is special. Ravanesi had it imported from the Napoli oven maker Gianni Acunto. It took a two-month Atlantic Ocean journey before bring hoisted into his shop through the front window with forklifts and wooden beams during a snowstorm.
Dome shaped, the heat from the oak wood burns to 1,400 degrees at its apex and to 800 degrees on the floor.
Ravanesi’s pizza recipe comes from a lot of experimentation. He tried many different ingredients and recipes for bread.
He makes the bread and cheese, by hand, every day. It takes 30 hours to make the bread. “To get the flavor in dough, time is your friend,” Ravanesi explained. “This is just flour, water and salt and time.”
He’ll make 50 pounds of dough for his 14-inch pizzas, fresh, every day.
“The dough never carries over,” Ravanesi said. “What I don’t sell, I throw out. I’m not giving somebody old dough. That’s just not happening.”
He also crafts his cheese, a fior di latte, cow’s milk mozzarella. He ladles 180-degree water over chunks of curd, then mixes and stretches it with his hands until it reaches the perfect consistency.
For Ravanesi, his product, developed to his own taste sensibility, will stand on its own.
“If you want a quality pizza, then hopefully, (you’re) giving me a chance,” he said. “This process takes a little time, but, to me, it’s all worth it in the end.”
And, in all cases, Ravanesi knows he’s poured all of his craftsmanship and effort into creating a delectable pie.
“Whatever you’re going to do, do it the best you can do it,” Ravanesi said. “Some people might not like it, that’s ok. Whatever it is, try to do it the best you can do it. When you come in here, I’m going to give you everything I can give and, hopefully, that’s enough.”
By Rick Nichols
Inquirer Food Columnist
Given his druthers, Dave Ravanesi would be the one making the pizza, not just eating it. But he was giving the impression, nonetheless, that he was enjoying himself one recent evening, the air balmy, the sidewalk scene easy outside Zavino, the pizza and wine bar at 13th and Sansom.
He lofted his Margherita, examining the constellation of chars (almost counting them, it seemed) on its bottom. He turned it sideways like a carpenter sighting down a board for evidence of warp, studying the bubbling in the crust.
A passerby could not be blamed for taking him for a shaven-headed food critic, or maybe - his expression so impassive - a not-entirely-pleased health inspector.
But he is something else entirely. Not just a student of pizza, though he has studied it closely. Not a mere appreciator, though he gets a visible rush discussing it.
No, he is a pizza geek of a higher order, far and away beyond your starry-eyed pizza blogger or average braggart (though he is not shy about his depth of learning).
There is a backstory to his story. But this is what's most important - and the hook that, after several e-mails, is what intrigues you enough to at least take him out for a bite: In frustration that at the age of 42 he did not yet have his own wood-burning oven, he went out to the Home Depot near the two-story Colonial he shares with his pharmacist wife, Jennifer, and toddler son south of Kennett Square, and bought a hacksaw.
With that hacksaw, he opened a whole new world in his kitchen. He sliced off the locking mechanism on his glass-topped GE electric range, enabling him to bake at the incinerating temperatures of the oven's cleaning cycle.
The cleaning cycle, in the event you have never stuck your head in to check, can hover easily upwards of 1,000 degrees. To a pizzahead, that is a beautiful thing. Ravanesi went out and spent $180 to buy the sort of infrared laser thermometer used by HVAC repairmen, a serious piece of equipment for a serious man.
There is a dome temperature in a pizza oven, and a floor temperature. The trick is to get the dome temperature to push the floor temperature up, but not so high that you burn the bottom of the pie.
After an hour at 1,000 degrees, Ravanesi says, you need to keep the pizza stone covered with heavy-duty aluminum foil so it doesn't get too hot too quick: He's looking for a floor temperature close to 810 degrees. At that temperature, he can bake a simple pie in a minute and 40 seconds.
Now and then, he invites friends and neighbors. Four came the first time; now 50 might show up. I've penciled in a June date, his next demo.
Yes, he would like to open a pizza shop one day. Maybe in West Chester, or if he comes by a sudden unexpected bequest, perhaps, in the city. But this has not been his singular dream. At 19, he tried his luck as a singer/songwriter in Los Angeles. The rockers told him he had more of a country sound. He went to Nashville. He played all over town: Dave Rav, on stage. He never really caught on major fire.
He went to the Restaurant School on Walnut Street. He has a day job as a corporate chef for Compass, sometimes even making - from its menu - a pizzalike thing that, in his view should probably be prohibited from appropriating a name he holds so dear and holy.
He learned the pizza basics at the knee of his Italian immigrant grandfather. His mother had a cooking show on cable in a suburb of Boston. He has studied the finer points of dough - he uses only flour, water, salt, and a little starter - and the differences that wild yeast makes, and how it affects the look of a slice. He has paid master bakers for tutorials.
He makes his own mozzarella, preferring cow's milk with 3.8 percent butterfat, not water buffalo milk which, at over 6 percent, he finds weeps too much liquid as it melts.
He has a dough-ball/ounces-to-pie-crust-diameter-ratio that he hews to religiously, asking puzzled servers what ratio their bakers use.
By the end of the evening, Ravanesi has moved on to Osteria on North Broad Street, having a nightcap of sorts - a pliant Neapolitan pie, slicked with mortadella, and a swirl of rich pistachio pesto.
He peers into the mouth of its wood-burning oven, and you cannot help but wonder if somewhere back there Dave Ravanesi is looking for something that looks, well, a lot like his future.
April 5, 2019
The first thing you have to do is find the place.
Yet, people who already know about Ravanesi’s line up an hour before they open as if they were waiting for tickets to the most popular rock star in the world.
Word of mouth.
It can make or break a business.
The first time we heard about Ravanesi Pizzeria was a good year before we ended up going there. Friends of ours mentioned how this was the best pizza around. They told us that you have to be quick about the pizza because they sell out quickly.
About six months later was the next time we heard the name Ravanesi. Of all places, we were at Total Wine in Delaware doing a wine tasting paired with pizza (but not Ravanesi that night). One of the hosts mentioned that Ravanesi was one of his favorite pizzas. Once again, we were prompted that this was a place we should go to for sure.
Fast forward another few months. I saw it on one of the local Facebook community message boards where once again the name Ravanesi Pizzeria (link to Ravavesi Pizzaria Napoletana FB page) was mentioned several times by several different people.
Having heard it from three independent sources, we were sufficiently intrigued to the point where we at least had to find out where this place was located. But we also knew we really needed to have a dining experience there.
It was clear before we even got there that word of mouth is making this business, and for good reason.
Every time someone told us about it, they told us that the pizzas sell quickly. They all said it was best to order the dough ahead of time and that Ravanesi did not do take outs. What does “order the dough ahead of time” even mean?We finally decided the date to go and invited friends of ours to join us for the journey of pizza exploration.First task was to go on-line to check their website for their hours. They open at 4:30.I figured I would call a little earlier, just to see if anyone answered, and, they did! They don’t take reservations, but they do allow people to “reserve their dough”. So, I reserved our dough, but not before she asked how many in our party. When she found out it was 4, she recommended reserving 3 “doughs”, which we did.She asked when we would be arriving. We said about 5pm, and she said we’d probably be in the second seating.Second seating, a half hour after they open.At this point we figured we would just have to take our chances on how long the wait would be.
Ravanesi Pizzeria is not just difficult to find. It is located on the very end in a very small shopping strip. It doesn’t help that if this shopping strip could easily be missed if you blink your eyes. We’ve been in the area for years, and had no idea the building was there.After passing this area several times, I finally managed to locate exactly where it was before our first trip here.We got there around 5:00. Only a half hour before the pizzeria officially opened. As we walked up to the door, the first thing we notice was the sign posted on the door, “SORRY, WE ARE SOLD OUT OF DOUGH”.
Ravanesi Pizzeria is not a large place. When we got inside, every seat was occupied.Of course, that isn’t hard to do when there are only enough seats for 28 people. That explained why we would be the second seating.We were greeted with the smiles of the people who work there, this particular night it was Nicole, Kristin, and Gianna. We were told that we had a wait of about 1 hour and that we were welcome to wait at the restaurant. Or they could take our cell number, go somewhere else and they would call us when it got closer to our seating time. We chose the later and found another location to wait.We decided to come back a little early and our table was close, but not quite ready yet. There were open seats for waiting only directly next to the pizza oven, so we sat there. As we watched the staff interacting with the seated people, we realized they obviously had a number of regulars.We saw there was one guy whose sole job was making and cooking pizzas. About one minute into the conversation we found out it was Dave Ravanesi, the owner himself. He starts work at 9am, and they close around 9pm. Dave doesn’t miss a beat. He talks to you while simultaneously and busily making the pizza.The place was frenetic, but incredibly organized. Nicole and Kristin were busy with their smiles, keeping everyone taken care of.
When all a restaurant serves is one item, it has to be good to stay in business. When you consider how many pizza places there are, it better be really good pizza, right?While we were talking with Dave, he described that he was seeking to emulate a Naples style pizza. He said he uses only fresh ingredients and he exclusively used ingredients from Italy – sea salt, olive oils, tomatoes, flours, all from Italy. The Naples style offers a lighter crust, but still excellent flavor. Dave even makes the mozzarella cheese himself!Earlier when we talked to Kristin, she mentioned they make 102 pizza doughs (by the batch). Because of the way the dough cures, they have to make them 2 days ahead of time for each day they’re open. So when they’ve sold the dough, they’re done, hence, this is why reserving your dough is important.Nicole seated us and got us settled in.We were just starting peruse the menu when she brought us a small Rosso Verde pizza for an “appetizer” to see if we like the consistency of the crust.Ultimately, the three pizzas we ordered were the Salsiccia, Soppressata Piccante, and one with half Bianca, half Marinara with cheese. While we were ordering the couple in back of us mentioned that the Margherita was good, but the Marinara had more spices and didn’t have cheese. So if you order the Marinara, be sure to add cheese if you want it.The pizza was delicious. Full disclosure, when we were in Italy in 2016, we weren’t able to make it to Naples to compare their pizza with Ravanesi.However, Ravanesi pizza was similarly fabulous to the pizza we had in Venice, Italy.
It was obvious there were a number of regulars that come by. You could tell when people said “See ya next week!”.Nicole said they estimate a little over 50% come back regularly. After experiencing Ravanesi Pizzaria personally, we understand why people go back.We certainly will. The pizza was well worth the wait and left us thinking about the next time.Word of mouth makes this business successful and they’ve earned it, all 5 years.