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Best reason to learn Italian: Andrea Vedovato server at Masullo Pizza

Andrea Vedovato will serve you your Masullo pizza with a little <i>joie de vivre</i>.

Andrea Vedovato will serve you your Masullo pizza with a little joie de vivre.

Photo By ryan donahue

The way Andrea Vedovato explains it, he practically hired himself at Masullo Pizza. The pizza there is so good, the Italian expat said, he found himself making repeated visits to the small neighborhood pizzeria.

“It reminded me of home,” said the 39-year-old. “I became one of their best customers.”

And, after telling Masullo’s owners how much he’d love to work there—at the time, he was waiting tables at another area restaurant—Vedovato also became their de facto Italian pizza ambassador.

Dreaming of beaches and Baywatch babes, Vedovato emigrated from Verona, Italy, to California in 1999. Back then, he knew no English but immersed himself in culinary school and the Los Angeles restaurant scene, moving his way through the ranks: dishwasher, line cook, prep cook and, finally, chef.

But Vedovato exudes so much ebullient energy, he was all but banished from the kitchen by a former employer who, bemused by the number of guests that flocked to the kitchen to visit her chef, recognized a star in the making.

“She saw that I was always talking to people and told me, ’You’re good—you should be out front [on the floor].’”

There, Vedovato said, his English improved, and he found a new purpose.

“I want to be in the front of the house, [so] I restarted my career; I restarted my life.”

Now, Vedovato, who’s lived in Sacramento for more than a decade, is a fixture on the Masullo front line. Wiry, lithe and always sporting a flashbulb-bright smile, he loudly recommends dishes in a still-thick Italian accent, flirts with the ladies and keeps the tiny restaurant’s atmosphere buzzing.

Someday, he said, he’d like to get back in the kitchen—open his own restaurant, even—but don’t expect him to shrink into the background.

“This is the land of opportunity,” said Vedovato, who received his U.S. citizenship earlier this year.

“I want to do something— bring my culture here, my joie de vivre, my happiness.” 2711 Riverside Boulevard, (916) 443-8929,