Where diplomacy fails, pizza connects, because a crispy crust, sizzling meat and gooey cheese have no secret agenda other than being unified in deliciousness.
Pizza is the United Nations of food, offering a treaty in its toppings — which may be how banana curry pizza came to be one of Sweden’s most popular pies.
Banana. Curry. Pizza. Allow that to bend your mind. It’s now available in Petaluma at Stockhome restaurant, along with another Swedish favorite, kebab pizza, and, coming soon, steak and Béarnaise sauce pizza.
If you’ve never experienced the mixtape of Swedish pizza, prepare to be astounded. It starts with a thin cracker crust and a light-handed swipe of either traditional red (tomato-based) or white (cream-based) sauce. That’s topped with cheese and then, well, whatever Swedes think will go well on a pizza. Like bananas and curry.
Sweden also has “normal” pizzas, but some of the most nostalgic for expats are the uniquely Swedish creations, according to Roberth and Andrea Sundell, owners of Stockhome restaurant.
“Most people are like, ‘No,’” said Andrea Sundell about initial reactions to the banana-curry pizza combo. “But with anything new, it takes a minute to catch on. People are trying it because we love it, and we’re telling them to give it a chance. I took one bite, and it became my favorite pizza,” she added.
Chef Roberth Sundell is a native Swede who likes to introduce restaurant visitors to the specialties of his home country, like tunnbrödsrulle (hot dog and mashed potatoes wrapped in a soft flatbread), Skagenröra (shrimp mixed with mayonnaise, crème fraîche, dill and lemon juice on toast), the traditional julbord (Christmas buffet) and street food classics, which, thanks to the immigrant population in Sweden, include dishes like kebab plates and pita wraps.
“We’ve always wanted pizza on the menu and realized now was the time to do it,” Roberth said.
An a-peeling history
The first pizzerias in Sweden were opened by Italian immigrants in the 1940s. They were later adopted by international guest workers and refugee communities as low-cost first businesses, bringing forth the kebab pizza (Turkish) with gyro meat; Baltic pizza salad (“pizzasallad” in Swedish) made with vinegar-marinated cabbage and red bell pepper; and the banana curry pizza, with Caribbean bananas and spice influences from North Africa.
Pizza is not the only Swedish dish that’s benefited from the addition of bananas. The sweet yellow fruit arrived in Sweden in the 1940s, far later than in other European countries. It soon took hold, not just as a snack and breakfast food, but in savory dishes like Flygande Jakob (Flying Jacob), a potato and chicken casserole that includes roasted peanuts, bacon and bananas. So why not throw it on a pizza?
Chef Sundell makes his version with a light housemade tomato sauce (onion, thyme and red wine vinegar), three kinds of cheese (including the tangy Swedish cheese Svecia), sliced bananas and curry powder sprinkled on top.
“It’s just fun and silly and nostalgic,” Andrea said.
More to try
If you’re nervous about the banana curry pizza, try the Pizza Bianco ($22) made with a three-cheese blend of Swedish fontina, Gruyere and mozzarella, lemon crème fraîche and thyme. It’s so good we ate it for three days straight, reheated and cold.
Kebab pizza ($25) is the darling of the lineup, with crisp slices of lamb, roasted tomato, pepperoncini and garlic yogurt with cheese and red sauce. You will become a Swedish pizza convert.
As for the Banana Curry pizza ($23), it’s one of those things that sounds horrifying but makes absolute sense once you’ve tried it. The sweet, thin slices of banana become infused with curry flavor. Think of them as Indian-style pepperonis? Just go with it.
The Sundells will be adding more Swedish pizza to the menu soon, like the Bea pizza (thinly sliced steak with Bearnaise sauce). Their restaurant also serves Scandinavian beers with the pizza to complete the Swedish experience — or to help your courage with that Banana Curry pizza.
220 Western Ave., Petaluma, 707-981-8511, stockhomerestaurant.com