Caruso has long been of the establishments one is bound to notice while strolling down Bankastræti any given night. Its trademark of sorts is an inviting row of candle-lit windows, where one can usually observe a plethora of seemingly satisfied patrons engaged in conversation while gorging on the restaurant’s version of Italian food.
The restaurant Caruso, then, has an allure when seen from the street, so my companion and I were excited to have the chance to experience it first hand. We were not let down. The first thing one notices when entering Caruso is that it’s every bit as cosy as their window-display indicates. A warmly lit, comfortable establishment, the undertones of an Emiliana Torrini album quietly playing in the background proved a perfect companion to the relaxing dining experience we enjoyed.
Caruso’s menu is spun out of Italian culinary traditions, albeit with a twist; few of the courses are traditionally Italian in the strictest sense. While waiting to order, we munched on fresh baguettes smeared with a garlic-style sauce that accompanied (we were also provided with consumer size packages of smjör – an unfortunate style breaker). For starters, we decided to sample carpaccio with fresh parmigiano (1,550 ISK) along with an interesting course, thinly sliced tuna with tomatoes and mozzarella (1.490). The carpaccio was simply put impeccable. The tuna dish tasted good and was inventively presented.
The extravagant blend of veal and lobster-tails (4,390) was our main course, along with spaghetti Calabrese (1,790). Our otherwise competent waiter neglected to ask for our preferred cookng of the veal, so the too-well-for-our-tastes state it arrived in was a foreseeable disappointment. The course was satisfying and fine tasting however, although the lobster-tails didn’t serve any real purpose apart from adding an air of luxury to the meal. Also extravagant was the size of the veal-cut: fans of meat will not be let down by it.
The Calabrese was an altogether subtler affair. Plentiful and modestly presented, the course carried the pleasant taste of its fresh ingredients followed by a surprisingly hot aftertaste. The spaghetti was boiled to perfection, too, something often lacking in Iceland’s Italian restaurants.
We enjoyed our desserts in a pleasant Cognac lounge reminiscent of a larger version of some grandmother’s living room. While the homemade coconut ice cream ‘Caruso’ (1,150) was a standard affair, it managed to arouse our stomachs out of the slumber the heavy meal had put them in and thus served its purpose well. However, our order of liquid chocolate cake with ice cream (1,290) was a disappointment: although it had a pleasant taste, it simply wasn’t liquid – causing it to remind us more of a bakery-style ‘skúffukaka’.