Finland boasts a number of classic restaurants specialising in hearty, unfussy Finnish cooking. Well-loved by both locals and visitors, these institutions have fed customers for decades. Turku, the thriving former capital of the country on the southwest coast, is a city with vibrant scenes in art, music and dining. Here, Pippurimylly lovingly offers up a delicious combination of food, ambiance and history, as it has done for nearly 50 years.

Located in the central Martinmäki neighbourhood, Pippurimylly (meaning ‘the Peppermill’) was opened in 1974 by Osmo and Helena Ravantti. At first, there was doubt that a restaurant could be successful in this area, which was known for its working-class roots. However, the restaurant has become an institution in the city, praised for its straightforward cuisine and welcoming atmosphere. On July 18 2024, Pippurimylly will celebrate its 50th anniversary.

The name Pippurimylly was originally floated by Helena’s friend Armi Ratia, the founder of the iconic Finnish design brand, Marimekko. Viljo Ravantti, the son of Osmo and Helena and the current owner of Pippurimylly, still has the original letter Ratia wrote suggesting the name.

Pippurimylly: 50 years of delicious food and friendly service

Left: Vintage posters along Pippurimylly’s Staircase. Right: A classic fish main course.

Classic cuisine, local ingredients

In 1993, the Ravantti family also opened Hugo, a more informal restaurant located downstairs in the same building as Pippurimylly. Hugo offers a broad selection of beer, including labels from local microbreweries, as well as tasty pub-style food.

Pippurimylly’s menu is classic, focusing on meat and fresh, local fish. “Our signature dish is Pippuriphivi, or pepper steak,” says Viljo Ravantti. “It has won a number of national competitions, and is often highlighted as a customer favourite.” The restaurant also offers themed cuisine weeks throughout the year, including game, Lappish and blini weeks. Local Finnish ingredients always play a starring role in Pippurimylly’s cooking. “The menu still includes some dishes that were prepared as they were in 1974,” says Ravantti.

The clientele of Pippurimylly is diverse. Weekday business lunches happily occur alongside pensioners having a meal out, or those enjoying a day away from work. On the weekends and holidays, families with children savour long, relaxed meals at the restaurant, while groups of friends are beside them, out for the evening.

A restaurant full of stories

One customer remembers visiting the restaurant as a small child with her parents for special nights out. Another says he chose Pippurimylly for his first ever date. “A lasting memory for me is the night we had both the Finnish and Swedish national hockey teams eating in our restaurant at the same time,” reminisces Ravantti. “Our dining room was completely filled with both of the countries’ toughest opponents on the ice. With good food, however, the evening went really well and everyone was satisfied.”

The Ravantti family owns other restaurants in the Turku region. Their latest venture is a bakery opened near Pippurimylly in 2021. Here, they bake bread for many local restaurants as well as offering a wide variety of cakes and baked goods to the public.

Pippurimylly also cooperates with local educational institutions in training young chefs. They offer student apprenticeships that benefit both the trainees and the restaurant itself. “We learn from their experience and benefit from their knowledge. At the same time, they gain an understanding of what it’s like to work in a restaurant with such a long history and connection to its location,” Ravantti states.

Pippurimylly: 50 years of delicious food and friendly service

Left: A vintage view of Pippurimylly. Right: Making pizza at Pippurimylly.

Taking pride in Turku’s community

The city has received a number of accolades in recent years, including for the Michelin-starred restaurant, Kaskis. Ravantti believes that Turku’s restaurant community is tight-knit and supportive, even though they employ different styles of cooking: “Pippurimylly is proud to be a part of such a special food scene like the one we have in Turku.”

Ultimately, Ravantti believes the success of Pippurimylly is down to the restaurant’s loyal customers and the care and dedication shown by its staff. “At times, we have three generations from the same family working here. They know how to take care of our visitors. Our customers are loyal; many people, especially those from Turku, have been visiting us since they were little children.”

Pippurimylly: 50 years of delicious food and friendly service

The symbol of Pippurimylly.

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