When Uno first opened its doors in 2011 it was a revelation. Finally, there was an Italian restaurant in Reykjavík that served fresh pasta dishes without leaving the customer bankrupt in the process. But that was all in the beginning, and the establishment has changed hands quite a few times since then, as I understand it.
I was prepared to find an entirely new restaurant when I visited this time but, surprisingly, the menu hadn’t changed that much, if at all. Uno’s style can’t be considered classic Italian Cuisine save for a few dishes. It feels more like an Americanised version of classic Italian with a “family style” environment—in the same vein as The Olive Garden or Jamie Oliver-inspired restaurants. This is not necessarily negative and has long since been acknowledged as a genre in itself. An example would be fried mozzarella sticks (on the starter menu) with sweet chilli sauce. I somehow doubt that you will find sweet chilli sauce in the middle of Tuscany… even if it’s the size of North Dakota.
Uno also offers a tasting menu of five courses for 6,990 ISK, or 8 courses for 8,990, but my companion and I decided to choose from the menu, which consists of a dozen starters of various kinds, about the same number of risotto and pasta dishes along with some hardy meat and fish courses.
My companion chose the beef Carpaccio, while I decided upon the baked goat cheese. The Carpaccio was nicely seasoned and had generous amounts of Parmesan shavings. It was a bit grey in some areas, perhaps having been frozen for a bit too long. The walnuts could have been broken up a bit better. The goat’s cheese was excellent, oozing from the first touch. It was wrapped in Parma ham with roasted peanuts and fig jam. The jam was spot on and the Parma ham was crisp, providing a wonderful contrast to the melting cheese.
At this point it must be noted that the starters were of hefty proportions. Therefore, we were looking towards something light for a main course. My companion had the mushroom and duck risotto and I decided to see if the pasta was as fresh as Uno would have us believe by choosing beef and chilli rigatoni. The risotto was nicely cooked. You could still spot every grain, which means it was al dente, as it should be. It was served with a whole confit leg of duck, which was a bit odd. My companion had to start by stripping the meat off the bone, and yes there was plenty of meat to be stripped. The dish proved delicious, but the portion was simply huge—so huge that we almost felt guilty.
The rigatoni presented the same problem. The rigatoni itself was perfectly cooked and well seasoned. The meat came from slowly braised beef shanks, which had been stripped off the bone for me—a strange piece of inconsistency. It was served with pickled chillies, which were almost sweet to the tooth yet contained a touch of their original heat. That said, I came nowhere near finishing my dish.
The idea of dessert was out of the question. In fact, we could barely finish our drinks. Some might not find this problematic at all, and it isn’t. As stated above, this is a family style place that offers hearty meals for a fair price. And it seemed to be working as far as I could tell. The atmosphere is welcoming and friendly. Our servers, while quite young, were enthusiastic, presented everything eloquently and kept our glasses full the whole time. I think the next time I visit Uno, it will be for lunch, for something like a single main course. That will undoubtedly keep me well nourished for the remainder of the day.
What We Think: Italian cuisine with a touch of Americana.
Flavour: Italian, American, Southern-European.
Ambiance: Family style, laid back.
Service: Enthusiastic, friendly.
Price for 2 (with drinks): 14-15.000 ISK
Our Rating: 3.5/5