It is very easy to find good pizza in Helsinki. Putte’s is the classic. Daddy Greens is my favorite after homemade pizza. There are numerous other small places peppered around town that serve perfectly acceptable pizza. Then there is Via Tribunali.
Via Tribunali became famous after their first location opened in the more touristy section of Helsinki. The reason I am writing this post, however, is their new location at Sörnäinen. The pizza, wine and service are great, but there is something that does not quite make sense.
Hämeentie, on which Via Tribunali is located, is under major renovations. The specific stretch of road is known as “Kurvi”. It has a reputation of being a rough part of town. It is normal to see less fortunate and heavily intoxicated Helsinkians go about their business around Kurvi. There are a number of dive bars. While there have always been a few brave gourmands around Kurvi, it is not the place for a fancy restaurant. At least not one as loud as Via Tribunali’s new place.
It is only a pizza place, a good one, but it is difficult to adjust to the fact that Kurvi is now undergoing gentrification. It was inevitable, I suppose. Kallio has long since been established as a hip part of town and the label is being dragged down to Vallila as well. Kurvi has resisted the trend by being tough and mean. Until now.
There is certainly room for another restaurant at Kurvi. I will not lament the loss of Kurvi’s essence or the spread of gentrification. If you want to go to a dive bar or a cheap pizza place in Helsinki, they are easy to find. But it is surreal to watch Kurvi’s scruffy characters looking in at you looking out at Via Tribunali. It puts gentrification on a plate and serves it to you with a nice syrah. It all makes sense, but it does not seem quite right.
Then again, perhaps that uncomfortable contrast is what Kurvi is all about.