Fluorescently lit pizzerias serving by means of the slice are town staples dotting each borough of New York City. One pizzeria, however, Pizza Paradise in Manhattan’s Flatiron neighborhood, has a unique nook. Saeed Pourkay, firstly from Iran, ladles out his home cooked Persian soups and stews for clients who line up at his minuscule corner counter area in the pizzeria.
Pourkay, who has a distinguished salt and pepper mustache and dons a shiny crimson chef’s jacket, opened Taste of Persia NYC, six years ago. Word has unfolded among Iranian meals enthusiasts, gourmands and those who relish unconventional eating reviews. Purkey’s area is cramped however sufficiently contains several stainless steel soup servers, warming platters, and rice cookers. Customers can take their meals to go or eat with plastic forks at no-frills tables some of the pizzeria’s clients.
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Taste of Persia NYC is a lunch and early dinner spot; its small menu is written on a whiteboard modifications day by day. Dishes in the rotation may consist of the hearty lamb stew abgoosht, or ghormeh sabzi, a stew of sautéed veggies and beef or lamb, amongst others. Classics like ash reshteh—a wealthy vegetarian noodle soup with legumes topped with fried mint, caramelized onions and garlic, and a swirl of whey white sauce, called kashk—are almost continually available.
Behind the scenes cooking prep photos, like trays of vivid inexperienced okra pre-stew, are regularly determined on Taste of Persia NYC’s Facebook page; all dishes are organized in the pizzeria’s back kitchen.
Since opening, Pourkay has gained culinary popularity. Taste of Persia NYC’s evaluations and write-America from The New York Times and New York mag, amongst other courses, are proudly taped to the storefront window searching onto 18th Street.
But Pourkay’s entrepreneurial achievement became no longer a smooth or instantly trajectory. In between clients and cooking, Pourkay defined how he released and ran photos and printing commercial enterprise together with his brothers for nearly 30 years, tried a green products enterprise which failed and led to 9 months of homelessness and, subsequently, how his former printing enterprise pals helped him launch Taste of Persia NYC.
Who is Taste of Persia NYC’s customers? Are they Iranians or of Iranian descent?
A lot Iranians, however often Americans. Neighborhood people come for lunch, and it’s also becoming, I don’t need to say it, a traveler appeal. I get clients from all around the United States, San Francisco, L.A., additionally Japan, Australia… If they’ve heard approximately me, they want to come and attempt the food.
I observed you provide quite a few samples to human beings coming in.
Some humans have in no way attempted Persian food, it’s now not like Chinese food that everybody knows. I’ve found a pleasant way to introduce our cuisine is to let them attempt a little bit. If I ever have time, I provide five or six samples, they pick out.
Are people amazed after they locate Iranian meals being served in a pizzeria?
No, everyone says, “There’s a hidden gem inside the corner of a pizzeria.” If you check the opinions, they are saying it’s the best Persian food in New York, the manner your grandma or mom makes it. I inform people, “It’s no longer a fancy place, I don’t actually have a waiter to serve you,” that’s why they arrive here.
I make all of the food in that small area [points to the kitchen] and that hobbies human beings. They come here, they revel in, they recommend, take pictures and post them [on social media], that’s how my commercial enterprise has grown.
Do you do any advertising or is all of it word of mouth?
It’s all phrase of mouth. When it comes to meals, New York is a small metropolis and word goes round very fast. You can not fool anyone on the subject of flavor; your judgment is your judgment.