Windsor·Pinto on Food

Feast on Persian kebabs, stews and rice at Windsor's Alborz Restaurant

The former Snack Bar-B-Q space on Chatham Street is now a Persian restaurant.

Restaurant opened in the former Snack Bar-B-Q space on Chatham Street

Jonathan Pinto learns about the Persian food served at Windsor's Alborz Restaurant. He spoke with Reza Alirezaee and his mother, Sahereh Nezhad Hossien — and shared the feast with CBC videographer Vincent Robinet. 1:55

I love Persian food.

It was first introduced to me by my friend and CBC reporter Anis Heydari. When he was here in Windsor, we were always on the hunt for the food he grew up with.

Sadly, we never found anything on this side of the border — and the couple of places in Metro Detroit were a bit of a drive. So my education in Persian food ended up being through eating whatever he would cook.

It was a good way to learn.

What is Persian food?

While it's hard to generalize any national cuisine, Persian cuisine is focused on nuts, saffron, mint, pomegranate, eggplant and earthy herbs, with wonderfully fluffy rice and hearty stews. Sour and fruity flavours play a big role, too — two elements that are right up my alley.

And you can't talk about the cuisine without mentioning kebabs. Some say that Persians actually invented them in the first place.

Alas, Anis now lives in Calgary, and my skills at Persian cooking are limited, to say the least. So when I noticed a place advertising Persian food pop up in the former Snack Bar-B-Q space on Chatham Street East, I got really excited.

Reza Alirezaee, centre, his mother, Sahereh Nezhad Hossien, right, and employee Afsaneh Baghery at Alborz. (Jonathan Pinto/CBC)

Alborz Restaurant opened in mid-January, the brainchild of Shahpour Alirezaee, an engineering professor at the University of Windsor and his wife Sahereh Nezhad Hossien, who is the restaurant chef. 

Their son, Reza Alirezaee, manages the restaurant, while also studying electrical engineering.

"My family moved to Canada about four or five years ago," Reza said. "Ever since, my dad always wanted to have a Persian restaurant, as we owned a couple of restaurants in Iran — and we still manage them [today]."

Tap the player below to hear my conversation on Afternoon Drive with Chris dela Torre.

Jonathan Pinto told us all about a new Persian restaurant in downtown Windsor. 6:26

Besides wanting to expand their restaurant empire, Reza explained they also wanted to create a bit of a community hub, explaining that before they opened up, many local Persians — his family included — would drive up to London and Toronto to dine.

"There are some restaurants in Michigan," he said. "But most of the Iranians in Windsor aren't citizens yet, and they're usually on work permit visas and student visas [and may not be able to cross into the United States.]"

Since opening in January, Alborz has been embraced by the city's Persians and non-Persians alike.

The restaurant is catering a big community Nowruz (Persian New Year) celebration, and has a number of reservations for the evening of March 21.

Alborz Restaurant is located at 39 Chatham St. E. in downtown Windsor.

A feast of some of the items on offer at Alborz, including (from front) ash reshteh, a thick, herbal soup with noodles and beans, torsh kebab, made from beef tenderloin with pomegranate molasses and ground walnut, joojeh kebab, made with marinated chicken, the iconic saffron-infused rice, koobideh kebab, made with ground beef and barg kebab, made with flat veal tenderloin. (Jonathan Pinto/CBC)

Jonathan Pinto is CBC Windsor's "food dude." Know of a place you think he'd enjoy? Have a craving for a food you haven't been able to track down? Send him an email: jonathan.pinto@cbc.ca — and be sure to follow his adventures on Instagram.

About the Author

Jonathan Pinto is a reporter/editor at CBC Windsor, primarily assigned to Afternoon Drive, CBC Radio's regional afternoon show for southwestern Ontario. Email jonathan.pinto@cbc.ca.

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