I have walked passed Rossopomodoro (“The Red Tomato”) nearly every single day over the past couple of years and never once have I seen it empty during opening hours. Since its opening a few years ago, Rossopomodoro has maintained a steady clientele and, despite the fact that few restaurants seem to thrive so far up Laugavegur, which is the main thoroughfare, it seems to have carved itself a permanent niche on Reykjavík’s restaurant scene. I decided it was finally time to go and see for myself what has made it such a relative hit.
The first thing I noticed is something I would never have considered before my friends all started having babies: it had a casual, child-friendly appeal, without being unromantic. There also was plenty of space between tables, something that nobody fully appreciates until they’ve had to navigate strollers around people’s chairs while carrying a monstrous diaper bag.
I’m a danger-seeker when it comes to pasta, but the selection on the menu, with its absence of gnocchi or any exotic ravioli stuffing, quickly bored me. Pizza lovers, on the other hand, shouldn’t be disappointed; there were about two dozen varieties to choose from. The wine list contained well-known international labels as well as a few interesting Italian wines, mostly Chiantis and Valpolicellas.
Bottles were reasonably priced; however, a single glass of the house wine at 1490 ISK was one of the most expensive I’d seen at a restaurant.
Since the restaurant played it safe with the menu we decided to do so as well, and stuck to our long-standing favourites: spaghetti Bolognese and the mushroom ravioli in sage and butter sauce. Our food arrived promptly, served in bowls the size and shape of upside-down sun hats. My ravioli came doused in a silky butter sauce, perfectly salted, although the pasta itself was a bit starchy. The sage, while fresh, was barely audible of over the noise of the cream and butter. Nevertheless, the food was hearty and my helmet-sized portion disappeared much sooner than I’d anticipated at the first bite. The same fate befell my partner’s spaghetti, although the meat in his sauce was slightly dry and crumbly.
Neither of us walked out disappointed, though from the start our expectations certainly hadn’t been soaring. While serious foodies will need to go elsewhere to electrify their palates, there is comfort to be had in the simplicity of Rossopomodoro, which is almost refreshing in the wake of so many trendy sushi restaurants popping up in Reykjavík every 15 minutes. If you’re looking for a relaxed and unpretentious time, Rossopomodoro will please the crowd, if it’s a none-too-picky one.
Laugavegur 40a, 101 Reykjavík
Tel: (354) 561-0500
Mon-Thurs 11-22, Fri-Sat 11-23, Sun 17-22
WHAT WE THINK: Not overly exciting, but good for groups looking
for a common denominator
FLAVOUR: Homely Italian, basic but reliable
AMBIANCE: Family-friendly, cosy and casual
SERVICE: Quick and efficient, neither friendly nor inattentive
PRICE FOR 2 (WITH DRINKS): 6.000–9.000 ISK