Optical stellar intensity interferometry with air Cherenkov telescope arrays, composed of nearly 100 telescopes, will provide means to measure fundamental stellar parameters and also open the possibility of model-independent imaging. In addition to sensitivity issues, a main limitation of image recovery in intensity interferometry is the loss of phase of the complex degree of coherence during the measurement process. Nevertheless, several model-independent phase reconstruction techniques have been developed. Here we implement a Cauchy–Riemann-based algorithm to recover images from simulated data. For bright stars (mv∼ 6) and exposure times of a few hours, we find that scale features such as diameters, oblateness and overall shapes are reconstructed with uncertainties of a few per cent. More complex images are also well reconstructed with high degrees of correlation with the pristine image. Results are further improved by using a forward algorithm.