The Pyongyang Pizzeria, named otherwise “Italy Pizza” is a pizza parlor located on Mirae Scientist’s Street, Pyongyang. Opened at some point within the last decade, the restaurant serves a variety of pizza styles and pasta dishes, the former of which are prepared live in a professional style. It is a venue for both locals and foreigners alike, with North Korean customers also being present in the restaurant. With the price of the pizzeria being slightly more expensive than others visited by tourists to the country, the parlor is not automatically included on North Korea tour itineraries and must be requested in advance by the group. Like other restaurants, musical performances are hosted by the staff to visitors.
Anywhere else in the world we take the existence of pizzerias for granted. It’s one of the most popular, universal and easily to attain foods. In North Korea, however, the creation of a pizzeria in the early 2000s proved to be a significant development. As a closed country of a socialist system, the DPRK initially did not have the training, cultural background or economic incentives to provide pizzas. That would change. As Andrei Lankov wrote in “the real north korea” (2013) changes in North Korea’s economy from the 1990s onwards would see the rise of de-facto private restaurants and businesses in North Korea, with the way people live in the DPRK capital changing significantly. Eventually these changes would accumulate in the demand to establish a pizza business in North Korea. At some point an Italian chef was invited to the country where he would directly train locals the art of pizza making. Thus was born the Pyongyang Pizzeria.
The restaurant is decorated with what might be described as a “retro-Mediterranean style“, attempting to live up to its name as “Italy pizza”. The parlor’s interior is lined with marble, which is carved into regional styles such as columns and pillars. In terms of food, it offers a wide variety of pizza toppings including ham, salami, Pepperoni, Margaretta, fish and an unusual “fruit pizza”. The quality of these dishes are not bad at all, although inevitably given the context they cannot be as good as those produced by quality western chains (so keep expectations managed with a view to national conditions). Its pasta dishes are also worth trying. The Karaoke performance which often follows is less typical than standard North Korean restaurants, with the waitresses playing western songs rather than DPRK ones. This has even included Disney and songs from the Lion King.
Overall, if you’re interested in dining in North Korea in a unique and atypical environment, the Pyongyang pizzeria is ultimately well recommended. The existence of such a venue is a sign of a changing country which increasingly influenced by the trends and styles of the outside world! Whilst some people poke fun at the idea of travelling all the way to the DPRK for the appeal of having pizza, not everyone after all can handle Korean cuisine with its strong spicy tastes, so it is okay to try something different for once! This restaurant is pricey for North Korean standards yet it offers a pleasant and interesting experience.