Updated Sept. 25, 4:46 p.m.–
By Thomas J. Sullivan– Sergey Psarev, the new owner of 701 Pizza at 6916 Sunrise Blvd., might be a newcomer to the competitive pizza business, but he does know how to craft an exceptionally delicious thin-crust pizza.
The owners of Lil’ Blondie’s Pizza, which formerly operated out of the location, had placed their business up for sale earlier this spring. When Psarev saw it listed, he recognized the restaurant’s potential, and then quickly made an offer.
After his offer was accepted, the outgoing owners gave him a quick two-week course on the art of pizza making before officially turning their pizza paddle over to him.
In early May, 701 Pizza made its public debut, quickly earning a local reputation on Yelp, Google and Facebook alike for its flavorful pizza, wings and sandwiches.
“We were looking for a different identity when we created our new business name,” Psarev said in a recent interview with The Sentinel.
“I love numbers. Seven is a traditional lucky number, and the number one reflects my personal belief that our restaurant could be the first choice for pizza in Citrus Heights.”
Psarev was born in the former Soviet republic of Georgia and emigrated to the United States with his family in 2004. English may be his second language, he said, but his passion for owning his own business and seeing it succeed is straight out of the American dream.
“Pizza is one of the world’s most favorite foods,” he said. “And everyone makes it differently. The best pizza begins with a great crust.”
Pizza is as beloved in Psarev’s birthplace of Georgia as it is throughout the greater Mediterranean region. Georgia is a country with a proud culinary tradition — there are many parallels to European cuisine and indeed Asian influences.
It may not yet be that familiar to many, but the country lying between Turkey and Russia doesn’t fail to win over visitors thanks to its incredible traditional dish, khachapuri, its version of the classic cheese pizza.
701 Pizza is a decidedly family affair. His wife Marina, their four daughters, Illona, Melanie, Estell and Albina and his son Ervin, all work at the restaurant preparing dough, slicing up fresh veggies and cheese and take turns making pizza throughout the day.
Psarev also has a large extended family living in the Citrus Heights area and many are closely involved in helping him promote his new business venture placing flyers door to door. He is regularly behind the wheel, making pizza deliveries himself.
701 Pizza offers six different sizes: a personal 8-inch, a small 10-inch, a medium 12-inch, a large 14-inch and an extra-large 16-inch pizza. Prices range from around $8 to $23.
The specific pizzas currently listed on the pizzeria’s online menu have been replaced by eight different signature pizzas which include: all meat, combination, Hawaiian, chicken garlic, vegetarian, barbecue, hot and spicy and basil pesto.
In addition, 701 Pizza also offers a “create your own pizza,” with ingredients including pepperoni, sausage, Canadian bacon, salami, chicken, bacon, linguica, extra cheese, pineapple, artichoke hearts, fresh mushrooms, fresh diced tomatoes, purple onion, roasted garlic, bell pepper, sliced black olives and jalapenos.
Psarev, who lives in nearby Antelope, acknowledges he still has much to learn about how to succeed in the highly competitive pizza business, especially in an age of Door Dash, Grub Hub, and social media marketing.
In time, that will involve meeting with local representatives of the Small Business Administration in Citrus Heights and working with its volunteer counselors to help his business succeed.
Related: What goes on inside that huge SBA building in Citrus Heights?
He said his overall menu will continue to evolve with new specialty pizzas being added and a new salad bar, which he plans to debut soon.
701 Pizza is located at 6916 Sunrise Blvd. Delivery hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Sunday, with pickup hours available until 11 p.m. Additional information can be found online at: www.701pizza.com.
*Correction: An original version of this story included incorrect pricing on several pizzas. This has since been corrected.