One of the city’s most beloved Persian restaurants is closing at the end of the month. Taste of Persia — which first developed a cult following at the Union Square holiday market and then established itself as a counter-service spot tucked inside a pizzeria at 12 W. 18th Street — will serve the last bowl of its popular ash reshteh, a Persian soup, on January 31.
An announcement by owner and chef Saaed Pourkay on the restaurant’s Facebook page confirmed the impending end. New owners have come on board at the pizzeria, Pizza Paradise, and Pourkay’s lease will come to an end on January 31.
A flood of comments left on the Facebook post expressed deep disappointment about the closure, with many expressing hope that Pourkay will reopen elsewhere. Pourkay confirmed in a brief phone call with Eater that he hopes to find a new location, but did not go into details.
Pourkay ran a print shop across from Pizza Paradise for two decades before he got into the food business. His Persian soup was a hit at the Union Square holiday market in 2012, and the success propelled him to open the counter-service spot in March the following year.
Soon after its opening in 2013, the restaurant quickly established a reputation for being one of the best Middle Eastern spots in the city. Aside from the soup, Taste of Persia is also known for its gheimeh bademjan, a beef stew made with yellow split lentils and eggplant; and ghormeh sabzi, a mix of dark greens, kidney beans, and pieces of beef.
But many of its fans also considered it an important part of the community. Taste of Persia briefly shuttered at the end of 2017 after a fire broke out in the pizzeria, and loyal fans raised thousands of dollars through a GoFundMe campaign, helping the business reopen early the following year.
“You provide so much for the Iranian-American community and for anyone willing to try Persian food,” one fan wrote on the closing announcement. “Food brings down barriers and brings people together — that’s what you’ve always accomplished.”