It’s a big leap from selling insurance to opening an artisan pizza restaurant, but that didn’t faze Mano Vrapi of Roseville’s Flour Dust Pizza Company. Vrapi, an entrepreneur who emigrated from Albania at age 18, started making pizza in his backyard about eight years ago, around the same time he began to tire of his office job. “I built a brick oven with my dad. We had no idea what we were doing, but it was a fun little project,” he says. Before long, friends were complimenting him on his pizzas, and Erick Johnson, owner of The Chef’s Table in Rocklin, encouraged him to start a mobile pizza business.
Vrapi spent a year restoring a 1952 International Harvester truck with a colorful history (it was once used to deliver goods to San Quentin prison) and soon starting booking catering gigs. He also got serious about perfecting his craft, enrolling in an intensive program at Biverò Pizza Academy in Florence. “I wanted to train professionally,” he explains. “Making pizza in the backyard for a few friends is one thing; running a business is something else.”
The truck was a success, but the pizzaiolo had bigger dreams. In late 2019, Vrapi and his wife, Stefanie, launched their restaurant. “Once I found the location, I knew it was right because it had an open-kitchen concept, which was similar to how I made pizzas with the truck, with customers seeing how we do everything,” he says.
Vrapi’s dough is made from Italian double zero flour—prized for producing a thin, crispy crust—and rises for three days in the fridge before he transforms it into gorgeous pies. “Pizza is like a house,” he explains. “You can have beautiful toppings, but if you don’t have a good foundation, you don’t have anything.” He doesn’t go overboard on toppings, favoring the simplicity of a few quality ingredients. “Neapolitanstyle pizza has a thin bottom; if you overload it, you’ll have a very sloppy pizza,” he explains.
Menu standouts include Ali’s Special, with four types of cheese along with pistachios, red onion and habanero honey, and Kami, featuring a piquant Calabrian pepper sauce and house-made sausage. Fans also swoon over the hand-pulled mozzarella appetizer, served with flatbread and a wonderful caramelized onion and pepper jam.
Flour Dust Pizza Company
5080 Foothills Blvd., Roseville;