In 2005, former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi declared that Finns ate only “marinated reindeer.” He also described the Finnish diet as something he “endured” on a visit to the Nordic nation. Finns responded to the diplomatic faux pas by creating an Italian dish in homage to Berlusconi. And what could be more Italian than pizza? Almost anything, at least compared to “Pizza Berlusconi.”
Kotipizza, based in Vaasa, Finland, created the prime minister’s namesake pizza. It originally featured a rye crust smothered in smoked reindeer, onion, and chanterelle mushrooms. Three years after the politician publicly slandered Finland’s culinary heritage, Kotipizza won an international pizza contest held in New York City. Their entry of Pizza Berlusconi even beat Italy.
The restaurant made their winning pie a menu staple. When the Italian embassy insisted the title be removed on the grounds that Kotipizza was advertising using their prime minister’s name, the CEO suggested Berlusconi come to Finland and discuss it with them. He never did.
The company’s motto, “Pizza, Love, and Understanding,” couldn’t have been better chosen.
Need to Know
Kotipizza distributes Pizza Berlusconi from its hundreds of locations. Due to scale of distribution and limited availability of reindeer, the mushroom-speckled rye pizza now uses smoked ham instead.