>> Persepolis Pizza & Subs | Eat the World Los Angeles

Tuesday, 14 September 2021

Persepolis Pizza & Subs

Facade of restaurant

COVID-19 UPDATE: There are four tables which a few people might use inside. Most people are picking up orders. Plastic screens and masks are the norm.

If you have ever spent much time in Iran, you come home with a very clear feeling about how important both food and hospitality are to Iranians. Make friends and suddenly you are the guest of honor in their home, course after elaborate course set in front of you. But the other feeling you will take away is that just like Los Angeles and most other cities, Tehran and Iran's other urban areas love their pizza and sandwiches.

Los Angeles has a large and established enough Iranian diaspora to cater to both of these types of meals as well. Persian sandwiches, led by the beef tongue at Attari Sandwich Shop in Westwood, are seen at quite a few spots in neighborhoods with many Iranians, while Persian-style pizza joints are a little more rare.

On one wall, a history in photos of Persepolis F.C.

Since 2002 Persians in the Valley have been able to enjoy their pizzas from a tiny spot in Reseda named after the former ceremonial capital of the First Persian Empire. Stepping inside you start to feel that it is actually named after one of Tehran's biggest football clubs and perennial Asian Champions League contender Persepolis F.C., which has an entire wall devoted to its history.

There is also a good chance you will walk in to see a football match from Iran or Europe on the television and a group of men watching it at the tables. There may be a pizza in front of them, but there is an even better chance that each has their own "sub" in one hand. Reseda Blvd. seems to be the secret location to find interesting foods at places with "subs" in the title, as just up the street in Northridge the word hides some tasty Sri Lankan food behind it.

Olovieh and mortadella Persian sub

The Persian beef tongue sandwich may have been made famous or put into the lexicon of non-Persians in Los Angeles by rave reviews of Attari, but it is made in other places along with a range of other Persian sandwiches. A large pot sits on the stove in the back of Persepolis which may appear to be some stew or soup being cooked, but it is actually the home to the beef tongue, by far the most popular sandwich made.

Having never strayed from that choice at Attari, it was time to sample some other favorite sandwich ingredients from back home in Iran. Under the "special subs" list, the olovieh and mortadella ($11.99, above) stood out on the initial visit, a combination of two things you can also find commonly on their own. Persian mortadella is actually kalbas, a halal deli meat made from beef or veal rather than pork like in Italy, and filled with pistachios rather than peppercorns. It has a nice strong garlic note and really bumps up the tastiness when paired with the relatively subtle potato salad olovieh (commonly spelled elsewhere as olivieh).

Ash e jo (barley soup)

While they list both a lentil and barley soup available daily, it is more likely that you will find the latter, known as ash e jo ($10.99, above and below). This version is paired down from what you may be used to served in a fancier restaurant, but it acts the part of pizza shop stew, still filled with good comforting flavors.

Pick up a spoon and you will also find plenty of lentils mixed with the barley in this vegetarian stew, as well as some chickpeas and leeks. The top is covered with a mound of freshly chopped parsley, which should be mixed in well for more flavor.

A spoonful of barley

If you happen to dine in the small restaurant and stay long enough to enjoy your soup and sandwiches, you will start to crave those pizzas as you see many of them being picked up. Hardly a word of anything in the shop besides Farsi makes it apparent that these will be of the style you will find in Iran, incredibly cheesy and without a hint of sauce.

There are many pizza styles around the world that a pizza snob would turn their nose up to, but all sorts of these are the ones people knew from back home and nowadays make them have those feelings again. When food makes someone feel home, this is arguably much more successful than another type that earns a "prestigious" award.

"Persepolis" pizza with sossis, mortadella, green peppers, and mushrooms

In Los Angeles, this tiny pizzeria in Reseda may be the closest two Iranian-born parents can come to bringing their family out for pizza night and feeling what it is like back home. Persian pizza is not super different than other pizzas in the States, but would satisfy that small percentage of overlap in a Venn Diagram of folks who love pizza and also do not like marinara sauce.

In its place, another layer of cheese finds its way to the pie, covering the top and many of the toppings. On a Persepolis ($13.99 for a 12", above and below), the namesake pizza has sossis (sausage/hot dog), more mortadella/kalbas, mushrooms, and green peppers above and below the cheesy layers. The whole thing is baked at a high temperature, which allows the cheese and the toppings peeking out to be nicely browned and crisp.

Closer look at the pizza toppings and crust

Like any good Persian pizza purveyor, they offer you ketchup and ranch dressing whether you are eating in or carrying out. Before COVID, you would find squeeze bottles of each on the table when a pizza was ordered. This may seem odd to people having their first, but watch everyone else and you will soon see that both of these are important and heavily used.

The whole pie is dashed with a healthy portion of oregano, making for a pizza with many tastes coming together. For the customer who is willing to transport themself to another land rather than compare with what they might think is a top-quality pizza, Persepolis is guaranteed to hit the right spot. It sure does for its many longtime regular customers.

📍 6900 Reseda Blvd., Reseda, San Fernando Valley


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