From left, Scott Osborn, Sara Nikokhorsand and Matt Billett are the team behind Imperial Pizzazz, one of the Tower District's newest restaurants. Photo by Donald A. Promnitz
Written by Donald A. Promnitz
Imperial Pizzazz co-owner and bar manager Scott Osborn and chefs Matt Billett and Sara Nikokhorsand are pretty confident that their new restaurant will be a hit – in fact, they’re already getting regular customers.
“Everything here at Imperial Pizzazz is completely different,” Billett said. “You come in thinking one thing, and then by the time you leave – after me and Chef Sara feed you and Scott pours you a drink – you’re going to be like: ‘Wow, that was completely different from what I thought it was.”
That “something different” is a combination of Italian and Persian food, with options including ginger pasta with a side of sambusas – large meat (or vegetable) and cheese-filled dumplings that are fried until they’re golden brown. All of it, co-owner Billett boasts, is made fresh daily, with only a small freezer to store the fries.
The idea for Imperial Pizzazz originated with its owner/founder and Sara’s sister, Homa. Having come out of homelessness, she decided to open a restaurant after receiving an inheritance. The idea was to provide employment to others and feed the community.
The Persian part of Pizzazz comes from Homa and Sara, both of whom are immigrants from Iran. As for the Italian, that comes from Billet, who specialized in Mediterranean courses in culinary school.
“Iranian food is for people who want to show their love and so is Italian food,” Billett said. “So why not bring those two things together?”
Homa’s experience has also inspired her to provide stipend sfor rent for her employees (or employee housing) when they hire more people. It was this way of thinking that convinced Billett and Osborn to join.
“We had other jobs,” Osborn said. “We were making good money and we fell in love with Homa and Sara. We fell in love with the business model, the business plan.”
Imperial Pizzazz will be hosting their grand opening on Feb. 23. They have also been working closely with Full Circle Brewing Company’s new Tower location.
The restaurant, which opened in December, is located at 1140 N. Van Ness Ave., Suite 101, at the corner of Van Ness and Olive avenues.