Have you ever wondered what kind of pizza they eat in Iran? One new
pizzeria has introduced Iranian-style pie to Toronto, and is finding
popularity beyond the Persian community.
Have you ever wondered what kind of pizza they eat in Iran? One new pizzeria has introduced Iranian-style pie to Toronto, and is finding popularity beyond the Persian community.
|The crispy, crunchy crust does a solid job supporting the myriad of toppings typical of pizza in Iran.|
“Pizza back home in Iran is all square and heavy on toppings with a thin crust,” explains Haman Shirvani, who co-owns Perperook pizza shop with his friend of 10 years, Fred Diant.
Perperook is a unique name to hear in Canada, but it is actually the same name as that held by a popular pizzeria in Iran. Shirvani and Diant sought permission to use the name from the pizza place in Iran for their venture in Canada.
The friends gutted and rebuilt the modern quick-serve eatery from a former sports space, which gave them 400 square feet on the ground level for a small counter and a few tables, plus 350 square feet of kitchen upstairs. It’s a tight space, but the uncluttered black and red modern design keeps it feeling more spacious than it is.
Perperook offers 12 different pizzas, fries, onion rings, salads, sandwiches, wraps and burgers. Their signature pizza, and one of their top sellers alongside the Spicy Steak, is fully loaded to say the least: cheese, beef kielbasa, chicken bologna, roasted chicken breast, beef and turkey hotdog, roasted portobello mushrooms, onions, olives, and green, red and yellow peppers.
The use of cold cuts and the sheer number of toppings is inherent to the Iranian style. The most popular toppings in Iran are kielbasa, hotdogs, green peppers, olives and onions, says Shirvani. Believe it or not, the 9 x 9 inch square pizza that carries that long signature pie list has a thin crust that is crunchy and can support the weight, even with the generous amount of five-blend cheese on it. The thick, almost cracker-like crust, which is baked in a conveyer oven, took six months, and two chefs (one American and one Italian) to develop. Once ordered, the pizza takes seven minutes to land in the box.
The rest of the featured pizzas carry fewer toppings and are more North American while still being different. The restaurant uses only portobello mushrooms, the Meat Lover pizza has two meats plus olives, and the Aloha Chicken pizza pairs pineapple and sundried tomato: all creative twists on classic North American pies. Corn is featured on more than one pizza, and the BT pizza uses turkey bacon instead of regular bacon. There is one halal pizza on the menu, which is their simple cheese and beef pepperoni.
Shirvani and Diant felt their concept would be a good fit in North York, Toronto, where they are situated in a mixed Persian and Korean community. They also serve Istak, a fruity, non-alcoholic Iranian beer, and Zaban sandwiches (Zaban being beef tongue that the restaurant stews for 13 hours). However, they were surprised by the repeat business and word of mouth spread by customers outside their known market. Perperook opened January 15 and celebrated its grand opening May 18.
“We had over 2000 people come for the grand opening,” says Shirvani. “We ran out of food and discovered Koreans and non-Persians liked it too.”
Popularity can be a challenge in a small kitchen. Currently they use almost 100 per cent fresh ingredients, right down to grinding their beef in house daily. While fresh is an appealing narrative for customers, part of the methodology for the business partners comes down to the fact that there simply isn’t space for a freezer in the kitchen. All marinades and dipping sauces are scratch house recipes too.
Shirvani and Diant are on the lookout for space for a second, larger location that could help service their original space. For now, the business partners are continuing to look for more ways to bring new customers in to try a slice of their unique pizza.
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