Come and enjoy “Sapori di 786 Degrees” The Shining Star of Pasadena
Most people associate a good night out in Pasadena with dining at a fine restaurant or bar in Colorado BLVD’s Old Town. Northern Pasadena’s East Washington BLVD is emerging as a more mellow, less crowded alternative to Old Town. Previously the business hub for the local Armenian community, recently trendy, multi-ethnic cafes have been springing up alongside Armenian owned shops and bakeries. Sapori di 786 Degrees is the newest addition to the rapidly gentrifying East Washington BLVD.
In Summer 2019, Master Chef Pizzaiolo, Ali Haider, brought his Award-Winning distinct pizza to Pasadena’s East Washington Village, by opening Sapori di 786 Degrees. His first restaurant, 786 degrees, opened in Sun Valley in 2015, since then there is a long list of accolades Chef Ali has brought back to the community.
In 2018, Mayor Eric Garcetti awarded Chef Ali’s restaurant 786 Degrees as the “business of the year” along with also awarding him “entrepreneur of the year” for innovative ideas he brings to better the community, Recently his pizzerias were again regarded as the best Restaurant in California by USA Today. Chef Ali recalls, “at that time, many Pasadena culinary critiques, friends, Top Television Personalities recommended that he should spread the pizza happiness in the beautiful city of Pasadena too. That is when they were offered this [second] opportunity. Pasadena is honored to welcome such talent and make it their own.
Born from a mixed ethnic background, Chef Ali did his schooling in Los Angeles. He is a mix of Italian, Indian, and Iraqi heritage because of which he is blessed to speak six different languages. He is the first in his family and friendship circle to become a restauranteur. Chef Ali states, “I always wanted to serve something unique and at the same time [including] flavors from all around the world. I could not find any restaurant doing that, especially halal being a foodie at heart. [So] I decided I might as well believe in my vision and let my passion take the lead .”
Chef Ali is a certified Pizzaiolo (Master of Pizza Making) from Naples, the motherland of pizza. He added, “I am honored to be part of the United States Pizza Team as the ambassador and proud to represent America internationally at different pizza competitions. [we have been blessed to achieve ] National and International world pizza championship awards 8 times till now.” Besides competitions, some of his national awards include recognition from Yelp, for “Highest rated pizzeria in the nation,” and also “best-tasting pizza in the nation” by Food Network. “Being someone’s favorite pizzeria is more prestigious to me than being the best ” he says.
Sapori di 786 Degrees-Most acclaimed pizzeria in Pasadena now
Chef Ali’s pizzas consist of international flavors, which spans several regions and continents. He says, “flavors are beautiful everywhere all around the world. Then why just stick to one style. Why not take the best of the best from different countries and present it as a painting on the pizza. The pizza is like a canvas.” Furthermore interesting fact, Chef Ali owns two out of the 14 authentic imported wood-fired ovens custom made of Mt. Vesuvius lava rock, in the USA which he uses to bake all his award-winning pizzas for his happy guests.
Every recipe is Chef Ali’s signature creation and the majority of the spices are sourced internationally. For instance, his saffron comes straight from Iran, and the spices for his Habibi Pizza come from Alexandria, Egypt. Chef Ali mentions, “All of my food is gourmet. Sadly I cannot just walk into a store and pick up any sauce or spice. It has to be from an authentic source because it’s a matter of complementing and representing the flavors from those countries.”
The period of COVID has largely impacted Sapori’s business strategy. Prior to the pandemic, his business was 70% dine-in, and 30% take out, and now it is 100% take out; Safety comes first. His gourmet pizzas are specifically designed to be served as soon as they come out of the oven hot and fresh just like in Naples, Italy. However, this overnight change in the norms has forced him to quickly readapt. Now Instructions are provided on how to reheat the pizzas at home so that people can taste it as close as possible to how it is coming straight out of the wood oven.
Chef Ali insists to go above and beyond with all the requirements the City has requested. He says, “whatever the city requires, we are doing 20% extra to make sure all guests and teams health is a number one priority. He gets his restaurant disinfected and sanitized every week by professionals. In order to ensure minimal contact, the restaurant has redesigned their website to suit the times. Customers place their orders online at 786degrees.com and can watch videos to learn more about the different pizzas. Once they arrive, they take their hot and fresh pizza from a food warmer near the entrance, and they are out the door in 30 seconds. This ensures zero interaction, and still allows customers to enjoy quality food with family at home.
“It’s our turn to give back“
During these times of crisis, Chef Ali and his restaurant have become extremely valuable assets to the community. They have been making fresh Pizzas (Lunch & Dinner) on the House to Support the Elderly who are in quarantine or are unable to leave their house and the front line workers. “I’m all about community,” Chef Ali says. “If the community did not support us all this time we were nobody. This is the time to give back and give back double as there are so many community members facing difficulties with their livelihood”. In short, he believes, “because you were a fan and supported us until now, it is our turn to give back.”
During COVID he shows his gratitude for his patrons by extending his generosity to those who remain in constant isolation. In both his Sun Valley and Pasadena locations, Chef Ali donates about 50 to 60 pizzas a day to society’s isolated and vulnerable citizens “BUT we need your Delivery Help he says”. “If you know any neighbor, any community elder that is in need of some Hot & Fresh Food, their Pizzas will be on us, Please DM me directly on Facebook or Instagram and Help us by taking the Pizzas directly to them. Pizza Addicts, you made us who we are, Lets together share our Pizza Happiness with our Seniors in this time of need. Together we are strong. In these times of uncertainty, your continued support helps me maintain the livelihood of all our team and we Genuinely Thank You from the bottom of our Heart.”
Chef Ali’s fame nationally and internationally is due to his unique, artistic take on his craft. His knack for creating a colorful world map on pizza dough, allows Angelinos to enjoy one of their favorite foods while savoring other international delicacies. His business presence on Pasadena’s Washington BLVD has broadened the local’s culinary palette while providing them with the love and care they need in the midst of the toughest of circumstances.
In conclusion, Chef Ali remarks, “I appreciate all our pizza addicts who keep coming back. In return, I promise the highest caliber of pizza they expect from us and lots of love and respect.” As the Famous actor and comedian, Jay Leno, says “if you have not tried their pizzas yet what are you waiting for, you have to come by and give it a shot. It is a guarantee it will blow your mind away.”
8879 Laurel Canyon Blvd
Sun Valley CA 91352
1709 E Washington Blvd
Pasadena CA 91104