Walk into any restaurant serving authentic Neapolitan pizza, and you can’t miss it: the large, cylindrical wood-fired oven. Its ability to reach and sustain extremely high temperatures (over 450°C) in a dry environment does three things that are impossible via any other medium: 

  • Infuses every inch of what it cooks with a distinctive, wood-fired taste
  • Creates ‘oven spring’ (when dough puffs up to form soft, airy channels)
  • Forms a crisp, charred crust from direct contact with the hot clay
The DeliVita oven does all of this, but thanks to its size and other user-friendly features, it takes only 25 minutes to heat up, making it ideal for pizzaiolos and enthusiastic home cooks. You can use it for much more than pizza and flatbread—any meat, seafood, and vegetable can be cooked with wood fire, with gorgeous results—but pizza is the best place to start and build confidence.

There’s no electricity, gas, or complicated set-up—just a robust interior made from Italian volcanic clay, which retains high levels of heat and absorbs the aromas and seasoning of what you cook in it. Unlike similar pizza ovens, it’s not just the base that’s a pizza stone, but the entire inside, which hyper-concentrates the heat and flavour. The DeliVita is like what you’d see in an Italian restaurant, or a restaurant that makes really good pizza, but smaller. That’s why it delivers on its promise of 100% authentic wood-fired taste.

About DeliVita

Started by an Italian family living in Britain, DeliVita was born out of a desire to use a wood-fired oven that was not too big or too slow to reach cooking temperature. Conventional ovens, AGAs, and barbecues make decent enough pizza, but not pizza with the taste and texture that the founders recognised as Italian.

With advice from manufacturing experts in Sheffield and opinionated family members, they created a pizza oven that requires no assembly and takes only 25 minutes to reach optimal temperature. The portable oven weighs 30kg—not exactly light, but not so heavy that you can’t transport it to a friend’s house. It measures 65cm x 59cm wide (about the size of a small dining table), with a height of 35cm.
Left: Pre-heating a cast iron skillet in the DeliVita for making steak. (Notice how a hand can be placed on the exterior of the oven.) Right: Using the DeliVita pizza cutter on a freshly made pie.

While the inside of the oven is made of clay, the exterior is made of fibreglass. This composition, plus an insulated ‘blanket’ between the clay and fibreglass, prevents the oven’s exterior from being too hot to touch. The perfect pizza stove, you can place the oven on any stable surface without worrying about it causing damage. The oven is also easy to clean: Just sweep away the ashes and finito.

Every DeliVita oven is handmade in Yorkshire. While Italian in origin, cooking with wood-fire is a popular cooking method worldwide. Michelin-starred London restaurant BRAT, for example, blends Basque and Welsh influences to cook everything they serve, from whole turbot to bread, over wood fire.

How Does the DeliVita Oven Work?

The DeliVita oven does not ‘work’, because it’s not a device or a gadget. There’s nothing to assemble: Just find a stable surface to place the DeliVita oven on and it’s ready to be lit. You don’t use gas or electricity to get this oven working, just wood and fire. This elemental way of cooking makes it so satisfying to use, and you can be confident that what you’re tasting is a result of pure, 100% wood fire.

So, how do you use an outdoor pizza oven? To begin, light a fire in the centre of the oven using firelighters and kindling (the smaller, thinner, rectangular pieces of wood with a smooth surface). When that’s going, add logs and move the fire to the back of the oven. Once at temperature—the whole process takes about 25 minutes—add pizza or flatbread to the area in front of the fire and cook.* Pizza and flatbreads take about 90 seconds to cook, and though there’s only space to fit one at a time, you can cook items back-to-back for as long as you keep adding wood to the DeliVita oven (we do not recommend using it for over 5 hours at a time). This is not a common feature in most pizza ovens, which require a rest time between each pizza for the oven to get back to optimal temperature. There’s also no pizza stone needed, because the floor of the oven *is* one—the interior of a DeliVita oven is made entirely from Italian volcanic clay.
Left: Using a DeliVita Pizza Peel to transfer prepared dough directly onto the oven floor. Right: Pizza straight out of the oven—notice the high rise of the dough and the blistered crust.

This clay, which is excellent at absorbing and retaining high levels of heat, is what makes the DeliVita oven so fuel-efficient. (You’d expect no less from clay sourced from Mount Vesuvius!) Burning two to three logs at a time is all the oven needs to reach peak temperature. The clay also imparts a beautiful, earthy taste to anything cooked in it, and this taste only improves over time as the clay gets seasoned with use. There’s no chimney outlet in a DeliVita oven, so the clay absorbs all the heat and flavour.

*While pizza and flatbread can be baked directly on the oven’s floor, use a tray or a pan for other foods, especially ones prone to sticking. Just make sure the tray or pan is narrow enough to fit into the oven, and compatible for cooking at such high temperatures. DeliVita carries a range of accessories for these tasks. Also, our range of iron skillets and griddles from Lodge and Finex, as well as Vaello Campos carbon steel paella pans, are compatible here, as long as they are less than 30cm wide (so it fits inside).

Curing the DeliVita Oven: Why, When & How

The DeliVita oven needs to be completely dry when you cook in it. Not only does this allow the flavours of wood-fire to properly infuse and bake your food, but it also prevents the clay from cracking. We’re not talking about small, standard hairline cracks, which is natural, but large ones that make the oven ineffective. In other words: It is extremely important that you cure the oven prior to initial cooking. Since clay naturally contains water, curing the oven ensures that the water is dried out of the clay. It also tempers the clay before cooking. Think of it as the equivalent of seasoning a cast iron or carbon steel pan before use.

DeliVita ovens do not come pre-cured, and cannot be purchased pre-cured. This is so that the pizza oven can withstand the rigours of shipping and transit, and arrives in pristine condition. Once cured, the clay becomes more brittle, and should be transported with care.

Curing is done by slowly heating the oven, starting at a low temperature of 50°C, and increasing the temperature by 25°C every half hour until you reach a maximum of 200°C. An oven thermometer, particularly DeliVita’s wide-range Infrared Gun, is useful for this, but it can be estimated as well (see the video, followed by step-by-step instructions, below).

Curing the DeliVita oven takes five hours of active time, with a 24 hour rest in between. We are aware this is quite the commitment, but considering the DeliVita oven requires no assembly—and produces such an authentic, inimitable taste—it is worth it. The process also gives you a good feel for how to use the oven initially. DeliVita calls it a ‘bonding session’. Though you only need to cure the oven once before initial use, it is best practice to cure it if it has not been used in several months, or if the inside of the oven feels damp on the inside.

Every DeliVita oven purchased as part of a set comes with a box of eco-firelighters and kindling wood for curing, plus split-wood logs for initial cooking. These items can also be purchased in most hardware stores and large supermarkets.

How to Cure a DeliVita Oven

Think of the curing process as happening in three key sections: the first third of the oven (front section), second third of the oven (centre section), and final third of the oven (rear section), allowing more time for the rear section of the oven due to its larger size.

  1. Prepare: Place the oven on a stable surface covered with a tarpaulin sheet or other covering you don’t mind getting wet. This is not completely necessary, as the water and steam released by the oven during curing are minimal, but it’s important for preventing stains on wooden tabletops
  2. Start the Fire: Place an eco firestarter towards the front of the oven (the centre of the front third of the oven floor, precisely). Stack pieces of kindling around it—two lengthwise (pointing towards you and the back of the oven). Then place another two pieces of kindling crosswise (pointing towards the sides of the oven) on top of the existing kindling surrounding the flame. Finally, put another two logs lengthwise on top, so the flame is surrounded. Think of it like a game of Jenga, or a tower. Use a long fire lighter or long matchstick, light the eco firestarter to start the flame
  3. Cure the Front Section: Leave the fire in the front third of the oven for 30 minutes, adding a piece of kindling every 10 minutes or so, as the flame dies down
  4. Cure the Centre Section: After 30 minutes, push the logs to the centre of the oven using a DeliVita Brush or Prod & Blow. Repeat the process: Keep it in the centre of the oven for 30 minutes, adding a kindling log every 10 minutes
  5. Cure the Rear Section: After 30 minutes (one hour total for the front and centre of the oven), move the fire to the back of the oven using the Oven Brush or Prod & Blow. The fire should be lit in the back of the oven for another 3 hours, with kindling added every 10 minutes or so to keep the fire going. It’s a good time to plan your first DeliVita party—dream up the food, build your guest list, the works Rest & Final Cure: Once the full four hours of curing (above), let the DeliVita oven rest for a full 24 hours. Then, cure the oven, as above, for 30 minutes in the front, and another 30 minutes in the middle. Now, your DeliVita oven is ready to cook
  6. Rest & Final Cure: Once the full four hours of curing (above), let the DeliVita oven rest for a full 24 hours. Then, cure the oven, as above, for 30 minutes in the front, and another 30 minutes in the middle. Now, your DeliVita oven is ready to cook
Pictured: The 'Jenga' formation of kindling surrounding a firelighter, before being lit.
  • The curing process does not need to be done in one 30-hour chunk, as instructed above. It can be done over the course of a few days—i.e. the front and centre of the oven first, then the back of the oven, and the final hour on the last day—or whichever timeline suits your schedule. But all the steps must be completed in order for the pizza oven to perform well, and to eliminate the risk of cracking the clay

  • It’s okay if a fire dies out mid-curing. Just add another eco firestarter to the pile and resume the process

  • Be careful when handling fire, making sure to wear heat-resistant gloves and use tools that allow you to work with fire from a safe distance

  • The temperature should increase gradually but never exceed 200°C (a thermometer is useful for this). Only use kindling, not split logs, as split logs may cause the fire to exceed the 200°C mark

How to Start a DeliVita Oven

To light a fire for cooking, follow these instructions:

  1. Place an eco firestarter in the centre of the DeliVita oven. Follow step 2 from the curing instructions above for starting a kindling fire (see the video above for additional reference)
  2. Slowly add two pieces of split hardwood logs into the sides of the oven, surrounding the flame. They should not come in contact with direct flame just yet. This is to acclimatise them to the environment of the oven. Once all the kindling is on fire, push the kindling to the back of the oven with a Brush or Prod & Blow, and then position the logs on the flames. Nudge the logs, so they are overlapping, and add another firelighter if needed
  3. Allow the logs to catch flame, and once both are lit, wait for 7 to 10 minutes for the oven to reach peak temperature: 450°C. Clean any debris from the front and centre of the oven using a DeliVita metal brush, or similar tool, and you’re ready to cook. If roasting, or if you need a lower temperature for food that is not pizza, bring the oven up to 400°C first and then let it cool down to lower temperatures; for example, 150°C to 220°C for roasting
Pictured: The DeliVita oven after a split log has been added.

Cleaning, Maintenance & Storage

Cleaning the inside of a DeliVita oven couldn’t be easier. Once the oven has cooled completely, use a DeliVita metal brush, or similar tool, to sweep the ash inside into a bin. If you enjoy gardening, note that wood ash makes an excellent addition to the compost heap or your plant beds. To clean the outside of the oven, use a damp cloth with soapy water.

To restore the shine of the stainless steel front, which can collect soot, simply scrub the area with the abrasive side of a sponge while it is warm. As you scrub, rub away the dirt with a sheet of kitchen roll. For additional shine, drop a small amount of food-safe oil onto a piece of kitchen roll and polish the stainless steel with it. Ensure that the oven is warm rather than hot when you do this, and wear gloves to be safe.

Since the exterior of the DeliVita never becomes too hot to touch, you can use it on any stable surface, including a large table. DeliVita offers a Fold Away Oven Stand that we think is perfect, because it is easy to set up and includes hooks and a tray for storing wood and accessories as you cook. When the DeliVita has cooled completely, it is best to store it indoors, or outdoors with the DeliVita All Weather Cover. If using the cover and stand, both are suitable to keep outdoors all year, but accessories and wood should be stored indoors.

Tips for Success

Cooking over wood-fire takes time to master. Like barbecuing, a lot of the skill comes from instinct. With time and practice you’ll learn how to determine the perfect heat, when to add a log, how to cook a steak, and so much more. But the DeliVita is very forgiving for first-time users (as long as it’s been properly cured!). Due to the oven’s efficiency, there’s no need to fuss over the fuel as you cook. Follow these guidelines to make the most of your DeliVita oven—and to guarantee it is in good condition.

  • Use untreated, dry hardwood with a moisture content of less than 20%, which produces the most heat and the least ash. Eco-lighters are essential, as they are free of additives like kerosene that could soak into the floor of the oven and affect the taste of food. Likewise, coal and lighter fluid should never be used in a DeliVita oven—only dry hardwood

  • Work quickly when cooking, especially when making pizza. If the sauce sits on the dough for too long, for example, it could cause the dough to become too moist and stick to the base

  • Make sure you are wearing protective gear like gloves, and take care not to put your hands too close to the fire. DeliVita and barbecue tools are ideal for cooking safely

  • Never let water or liquids get inside the oven. If it does, cure the oven before cooking again

  • Do not use more than two split logs in the oven at any given time, as that would make the heat unnecessarily high and damage the clay

  • Do not use the DeliVita oven in an enclosed space, unless you have a chimney system that connects to a burner. In that case, you can attach it to the DeliVita oven using the DeliVita Chimney attachment

  • Unless you have a weatherproof cover, store the DeliVita oven indoors Invest in a compatible thermometer. Once you use the oven a few times you’ll develop a knack for gauging temperature levels without it, but it will be indispensable in helping you along the way
Pictured: DeliVita Complete Collection, featuring all the accessories you need for pizza and wood-fired feasts.

DeliVita Packs & Accessories

The DeliVita oven is a unique item, which means the best accessories to compliment it will come from its makers. Every DeliVita accessory has been vetted by their team and is perfectly suited for use with the DeliVita oven. In our opinion, the essential tools for any DeliVita Oven are the Infrared Gun (thermometer), Prod & Blow, Oven Brush, and Pizza Peel. If you don’t already have a surface in mind for the DeliVita oven, we recommend investing in their Folding Stainless Steel Stand, with handy hooks and a tray for storing accessories and wood.

We carry their range of accessories, and we sell the oven as part of three different sets:

  • DeliVita Pizzaiolo Collection: Everything you need to master wood-fired pizza, from a pizza turner that ensures your pizzas go full circle to DeliVita’s vegan pizza dough to get you started. Shop here

  • DeliVita Wood-Fired Collection: If you’re looking to build your outdoor space into a second kitchen, this collection features items like an oven door, which lets you bake and roast, as well as a cookbook full of recipes to get you started. Shop here

  • DeliVita Complete Collection: The whole nine yards. Shop here

Our Verdict

We chose to carry the DeliVita oven over other pizza ovens because it is a mini version of what you’d see in an Italian restaurant—no gizmos, no gas fuel to fuss with; just authentic wood-fired flavour. Using the DeliVita trains you to cook by instinct, knowing when a pizza or a dish of garlic prawns is ‘just right’, or when you’re at peak cooking temperature, based on your five senses. The quality of the clay is unparalleled, and we love how it builds a unique flavour and seasoning over time. The oven’s efficiency, not to mention how easy it is to light up and clean, is another plus. We see it as an addition to a barbecue rather than a substitute, or the ideal item for a beginner looking to expand into outdoor cookery.